Lawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday

Lawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday
© Greg Nash

Lawmakers broke up their meeting on Tuesday with no deal to fund the government as the clock ticked toward a Dec. 20 deadline.

Appropriators face a long series of obstacles to reach a deal and prevent either having to pass a short-term spending measure to keep the government open, or seeing federal agencies shut down.

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyTop House Democrats call for watchdog probe into Pompeo's Jerusalem speech With Biden, advocates sense momentum for lifting abortion funding ban Progressives look to flex their muscle in next Congress after primary wins MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate GOP eyes early exit Dems discussing government funding bill into February GOP short of votes on Trump's controversial Fed pick MORE (R-Ala.) had hoped to button up a deal by Sunday, and kept working into the week on a slew of tough issues that include President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE’s proposed border wall, immigration enforcement, abortion-related issues, and Trump’s use of emergency powers to reprogram money toward the wall.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMcConnell focuses on confirming judicial nominees with COVID-19 talks stalled Overnight Defense: Top admiral says 'no condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' | Intelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings Pelosi must go — the House is in dire need of new leadership MORE (D-Calif.) hosted a Tuesday meeting with Lowey, Shelby and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinMcConnell focuses on confirming judicial nominees with COVID-19 talks stalled Hillicon Valley: FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden | Treasury Dept. sanctions Iranian government-backed hackers On the Money: Pelosi draws line at .2T | Jobless claims dip | Swing-state jobless numbers an issue for Trump MORE, but after just 24 minutes it split up. Appropriators said they had agreed to meet again Thursday in the hopes of working out most of the issues.

“Certainly we understand as appropriators that we have to get our work done, and we can finish our work, but with a couple of loose ends by the end of the week,” said Lowey.

“We’ve got a long list.” Shelby added. “They told us to get that list down.”

Congress is set to end its session next week, but has a lot of work ahead of it.

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In addition to needing to pass the 12 spending bills funding the government for the fiscal year, Democrats want to pass a newly renegotiated trade deal with Mexico and Canada. They also are expected to vote on two articles of impeachment against Trump.

If there is no deal on the spending bills for the full year, lawmakers could agree to another stopgap measure. But that would at least raise the risk of a shutdown since it’s not entirely clear the president would agree to the measure.

But Lowey said they were still far from considering a continuing resolution (CR), or even a plan to pass a combination of some spending bills with a partial CR for the remaining ones.

“I’m not focused on a CR at all. We’re adults, we’re appropriators. Mnuchin was there representing the administration, and if there’s a commitment to get our work done, I intend to keep that commitment,” she said.

Lowey even played down the importance of the Thursday deadline, comparing it to a deadline parents give children.

“If they don’t get their work done by Thursday, you say ‘mmmm, maybe I’ll give them a little more time,’” she said.