House to vote Wednesday on a weeklong stopgap to avoid government shutdown

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a stopgap measure to avert a government shutdown after current funding expires this Friday, an acknowledgment that negotiators need more time to reach a longer-term deal.

Democratic aides confirmed Monday that the stopgap is expected to last through Dec. 18.

House Democratic leaders initially hoped to wrap up work on an all-encompassing spending package, coronavirus economic relief and an annual defense policy bill by Friday and send members home in time to quarantine for two weeks before spending Christmas with their families.


Senators were less optimistic last week about getting all that work done so quickly.

“Will we do it by the ninth? I’d like [to] but probably not. There’s some challenges that have got to be dealt with,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyOn The Money: Sanders: Democrats considering trillion spending package | Weekly jobless claims rise for first time since April Shelby signals GOP can accept Biden's .5T with more for defense Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior MORE (R-Ala.) said last Wednesday.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerBiden signs Juneteenth bill: 'Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments' House passes political spending, climate change corporate disclosures bill House to vote Wednesday on making Juneteenth a federal holiday MORE (D-Md.) pushed back a day later, insisting that "if we think it will not get done, it will not get done."

In the end, House Democrats are now acknowledging that negotiators will need more time.

Hoyer expressed frustration on Monday that progress is moving slowly on a spending package and coronavirus relief.

“Not getting a deal is not on the table,” he told reporters in the Capitol.


Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyShelby signals GOP can accept Biden's .5T with more for defense Bipartisan lawmakers want Biden to take tougher action on Nicaragua Biden budget expands government's role in economy MORE (Vt.), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, lamented the need for a stopgap.

“I think it’s stupid. We could have done this weeks ago,” he said.

Congressional leaders are leery of staying in session for much longer given the spike in COVID-19 cases nationally and among lawmakers.

Three House members tested positive for COVID-19 last week alone. And of the 35 lawmakers who have tested positive since March, about 40 percent have been within the last month.

Several other lawmakers have also had presumed cases or tested positive for antibodies.

The House is also expected to vote Tuesday on an annual defense policy bill that includes a provision to change the names of military bases that currently honor Confederate leaders, despite a veto threat from President TrumpDonald TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat MORE.

A deal on coronavirus relief has eluded congressional leaders since the summer. But with COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths rising across the nation, lawmakers are under pressure to reach an agreement to extend expiring unemployment insurance and eviction moratorium measures as well as provide resources for distributing a vaccine.

—Updated at 3:41 p.m.