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Shelby expects another funding stopgap, potentially through March

Shelby expects another funding stopgap, potentially through March
© Greg Nash

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyHouse Democrats pick DeLauro to lead Appropriations panel The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dem leaders back smaller COVID-19 relief bill as pandemic escalates Congress faces late-year logjam MORE (R-Ala.) on Wednesday said deadlock over spending negotiations would likely require Congress to pass a new funding stopgap measure, called a continuing resolution (CR), to prevent a shutdown after Nov. 21.

“Unless a miracle happens around here with the House and Senate, we will have to put forth another CR,” Shelby said.  

While the eight-week stopgap extended funding past the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, Shelby said rumors of a longer CR into February or March were “probably in the ballpark.”

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The prospect that the House would impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE and the Senate would have to take up a trial, he said, added to the need for a longer stopgap.

While the House has passed 10 of its 12 annual spending bills, the Senate has not yet succeeded in passing a single funding bill, largely due to disagreements over Trump’s proposed border wall.

On Tuesday, the Senate introduced a package of four smaller, noncontroversial spending bills and is expected to begin the process of voting on amendments next week.

But the chances of getting any spending bills signed into law in the near future remain slim. Shelby and his House counterpart, Rep. Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyOvernight Defense: Lawmakers release compromise defense bill in defiance of Trump veto threat | Senate voting next week on blocking UAE arms sale | Report faults lack of training, 'chronic fatigue' in military plane crashes Rep. David Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel House Democrats pick DeLauro to lead Appropriations panel MORE (D-N.Y.), have been negotiating how to divvy up spending between the 12 appropriations bills, with particular controversy arising over wall-related allocations that Democrats say pull funding from other priorities.

On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse Democrats pick DeLauro to lead Appropriations panel Congress faces late-year logjam Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms MORE (D-Md.) emphasized the need to reach agreement on the allocations before putting any agreed-upon spending bills to a vote, a condition that dampens the chances of near-term progress on even noncontroversial bills.

A return to regular order for even a few bills, Shelby said, would require a “very, very optimistic” outlook.

In the meantime, the Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to release the spending bill dealing with military construction and veterans affairs, which is stuck over Democratic insistence against backfilling project funds that Trump redirected toward building the wall under emergency powers. 

The committee has also not yet marked up a bill covering the department of Labor and Health and Human Services, which is second in size only to defense, over abortion-related issues. Democrats have objections to cuts they say were made to accommodate new wall funding.