Trump signs short-term spending bill to avert shutdown
President Trump on Thursday signed a funding stopgap measure just hours ahead of a shutdown deadline, extending funding levels from the last fiscal year until Dec. 20.
The measure, which passed in the Senate earlier Thursday and in the House on Tuesday, bought Congressional negotiators an additional four weeks to hammer out a deal on how to spend the agreed $1.37 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, and tackle thorny issues including Trump’s request to fund a border wall.
“I am optimistic that the passage of the continuing resolution today is something Congress can build from, a sign that appropriators from both sides of the aisle are ready to work together to settle government funding by the end of the calendar year,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday morning.
But behind the scenes, appropriators are far from sure they will be able to work out a deal in time, with many raising concerns that an additional stopgap measure could be necessary ahead of Christmas.
“Well we have deadlines, and then they come and we create more deadlines,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said when asked about progress on allocations.
Progress on a deal has been fleeting.
Last week, the White House sent Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), a signal Democrats saw as a sign they were willing to strike a deal. Mnuchin has in the past played the role of dealmaker in contentious negotiations, including a top-line spending deal agreed to over the summer.
But since then, progress on how to allocate the funds has hit several bumps, complicated by Trump’s demand to include $5 billion in funding for the wall in the Homeland Security bill, and backfill $3.6 billion in military construction accounts he reprogrammed toward the wall using emergency powers.
Democrats also seek to block Trump from continuing to use transfer authority in the current fiscal year.
Lowey insisted on Thursday that she remains, as ever, optimistic
While Democrats have been steadfast in their insistence that none of the funding bills be finalized until there is agreement on all of them, in recent days they have begun warming to the possibility of a so-called “Cromnibus.” This is a package that would combine new funding for most of the government alongside continuing resolutions for the most problematic bills, such as Homeland Security.
“The wall I think is the major impediment. But that’s only one bill: the Department of Homeland Security,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) noted earlier in the week.
“But it ought not to adversely affect the other 11 bills. They’re being held hostage, essentially,” he added.
Scott Wong contributed to this article