- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell applauded the House’s preparations to avert a government shutdown, but he said Tuesday that Congress must still complete the appropriations process before the end of the year.

“Failing to secure funding for the federal government before the end of the year is not an option,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor. “Today these efforts are ongoing, and with our deadline to prevent a funding lapse rapidly approaching, I’m encouraged that the House will apparently—apparently—be voting today on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded to December 20th while talks continue.”

The House is prepared to vote on a stopgap spending resolution as early as Tuesday that will keep the government open for business through Dec. 20. Funding for the government expires Thursday, Nov. 21, absent any such agreement.

Congress has authorized appropriations for several federal departments and agencies, but a controversial spending bill covering the departments of Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, and Labor remains hotly debated. Mr. McConnell said the talks on the bitterly debated appropriations must continue because a resolution is needed before the end of the 2019 calendar year.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer has blamed President Trump for the impasse on spending, while Mr. McConnell has pointed to Democrats as the main obstacle.

As the leadership of both parties has feuded in public, congressional appropriators have worked behind-the-scenes to reach an agreement punting the spending crisis past next week’s Thanksgiving holiday. House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat who is preparing to retire rather than run for reelection, met with Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby, Alabama Republican, in the bipartisan push to extend the shutdown deadline.

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