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Senate passes spending bill to avert shutdown hours before deadline

Senate passes spending bill to avert shutdown hours before deadline
© Bonnie Cash

The Senate on Wednesday passed a short-term funding bill just hours before the deadline to prevent a government shutdown.

Senators voted 84 to 10 to keep the government funded at current levels through Dec. 11, setting up another funding fight after the November elections and right before the holidays.

The funding bill, passed by the House earlier this month, now heads to President TrumpDonald TrumpDonald Trump Jr. calls Bruce Springsteen's dropped charges 'liberal privilege' Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow McConnell says he'd back Trump as 2024 GOP nominee MORE’s desk, where he is expected to sign it before midnight to keep the government running.

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In addition to extending government funding, the bill adds $8 billion in nutrition assistance programs; allows for the farm aid distributed through the Commodity Credit Corporation but with measures sought by Democrats to prohibit payments to fossil fuel refiners and importers; and expands an expiring program providing low-income children with meals to include child care centers impacted by pandemic-related closures.

The last-minute passage of the legislation comes after the Senate punted the bill last week as a burgeoning fight over the Supreme Court has diminished day-to-day cooperation in the chamber. Republicans had hoped to pass the continuing resolution (CR), which continues funding at fiscal 2020 levels, last week, but argue Democrats wanted to keep them off the campaign trail in the final stretch of the election.

“Right now I think they're just trying to throw a wrench into anything we do. Obviously it's retribution for the decision on the court and they just want to be difficult. I don't know why, it doesn't make sense to me either to bring everybody back,” said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneCruz hires Trump campaign press aide as communications director Senate GOP works to avoid having '22 war with Trump Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy MORE (R-S.D.).

To avoid a shutdown on Dec. 12, lawmakers and the Trump administration will need to pass either another CR or a dozen fiscal 2021 funding bills.

Getting a deal on all 12 appropriations bills would be a herculean task given the deep disagreements between the two parties and the short timeframe. The outcome of the November elections will also play a role: If Democrats win back the White House and the Senate majority they could try to pass another CR into early 2021, when they would have more leverage.

Though the House has passed 10 of the 12 fiscal 2021 spending bills, the Senate has not taken up any amid a disagreement in the Appropriations Committee about the amendment process.

“It was a demonstration of failure … to the extent that what we ought to be doing is passing 12 appropriation bills in the House, 12 appropriation bills in the Senate,” House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi: Dems want commission focused on Capitol mob attack Democrats call for relief package to waive taxes on unemployment benefits George Floyd police reform bill reintroduced in House MORE (D-Md.) told reporters about the need for a CR. “That did not happen. It has not been happening."