- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The House passed an emergency short-term funding bill late Tuesday night, easing concerns that Congress would tip into a government shutdown amid a coronavirus pandemic that shuttered the American economy.

The bipartisan 359-57 vote came on a new bill, which funds the government for a month past the presidential election, came after a flurry of last-minute negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin throughout the day, which secured a deal.

The bill has eight days to pass the Senate and be signed into law before the Sept. 30 deadline.

In addition to funding the government through Dec. 11, the bill includes $8 billion in nutrition assistance, a Democratic priority, and billions of dollars for trade-relief payments to farmers hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which was a top priority for the White House.

The deal also included accountability measures for the Commodity Credit Corporation program, which provides those aid payments, to guard against funds going to oil producers.

“To help the millions of families struggling to keep food on the table during the pandemic, Democrats have renewed the vital, expiring lifeline of Pandemic EBT for a full year and enabled our fellow Americans in the territories to receive this critical nutrition assistance,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said in a statement announcing the deal.

“We also extended key flexibility for states to lower administrative requirements on SNAP for families in the middle of this crisis,” she added.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill often use these temporary funding measures, known as continuing resolutions (CR), to give themselves more time to work out a deal without the government funding lapsing. Partisan infighting still can make these stopgap measures struggle to pass the finish line though.

Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin made working on a CR their top priority over the past few weeks, setting aside the far tougher — and stalled — talks on coronavirus relief. Lawmakers expected an easy passage until talks reportedly hit a snag last Friday.

Even with the expiration date looming, lawmakers across the political spectrum have been adamant about avoiding a shutdown in an election year with millions already out of work because of the pandemic.

The gap widened Tuesday when House Democrats released their own CR without the farm aid that the White House, Republicans and even some of their own members from rural areas demanded.

“House Democrats’ rough draft of a government funding bill shamefully leaves out key relief and support that American farmers need. This is no time to add insult to injury and defund help for farmers and rural America,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said about the initial proposal.

The Kentucky Republican did not immediately comment on the deal passed by the House.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide