Lowey expects short-term funding bill to carry into 2020

Lowey expects short-term funding bill to carry into 2020
© Greg Nash

Congress will need to punt its spending debate past the Nov. 21 deadline, likely into February or March, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyHouse Democrats unveil coronavirus economic response package Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins Trump, Congress struggle for economic deal under coronavirus threat MORE (D-N.Y.) confirmed Thursday.

“That’s what’s going to happen,” she said.

Senate appropriators have speculated that another continuing resolution would be necessary to avoid a government shutdown, but House appropriators had mulled a shorter timeline, considering a Christmas deadline.

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Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyInfrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens Coronavirus bill includes more than billion in SNAP funding White House billion emergency request balloons to 2 billion in Senate coronavirus stimulus talks MORE (R-Ala.) suggested a longer horizon would be necessary because of potential impeachment proceedings. The House on Thursday voted on rules for the next, public phase of the impeachment inquiry.

But Lowey pushed back on the idea that the timeline was linked to the possible impeachment of President TrumpDonald John TrumpIllinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipments it's requested Biden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll Tesla offers ventilators free of cost to hospitals, Musk says MORE.

“We can walk, chew gum, skip and hop at the same time," she said.

Talks have been held up over the fact that negotiations between the House and Senate on how to divvy up overall spending among the 12 bills — a step Democrats say is key to moving the process forward — have not borne fruit.

“Right now there’s no progress,” Lowey said.

Fierce disagreements over funding Trump’s proposed border wall and use of emergency funds to reprogram funds toward it have thrown sand in the gears of passing annual spending bills.

While the House passed 10 of the 12 annual bills along party lines in early summer, the Senate voted to pass its first package of several small, noncontroversial spending bills on Thursday, but was expected to reject taking up a second, larger package.

That group includes the two largest bills, one covering the Department of Defense and the other covering the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.

House Democrats argue that until they address the wall issue in a broader deal on allocations, they cannot finalize any of the bills. Without any appropriations bills signed into law, a potential lapse in funding would lead to a wider shutdown than the partial, 35-day lapse that began late last year.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMcConnell launches ad touting role in passing coronavirus relief Joe Biden can't lead the charge from his home in Delaware Texas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill MORE (D-N.Y.) raised concerns this week that Trump would instigate a shutdown over the impeachment inquiry.

"He always likes to create diversions. I hope and pray he won’t want to cause another government shutdown because it might be a diversion away from impeachment," he said Tuesday.