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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 LoweyDeLauro wins Steering Committee vote for Appropriations chair This week: Congress races to wrap work for the year Congress set for chaotic year-end sprint MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyTop GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week McConnell: COVID-19 relief will be added to omnibus spending package Bipartisan, bicameral group unveils 8 billion coronavirus proposal 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 TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump 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 PelosiPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Houston will send residents checks of up to ,200 for pandemic relief MORE (D-Calif.) hosted a Tuesday meeting with Lowey, Shelby and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines 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.