Democrats, GOP Agree on Stopgap to Avoid Government Shutdown

Republicans and Democrats in Congress have agreed in principle on a stopgap spending bill needed to keep the U.S. government open after the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. The bill extends current levels of spending for agencies through Dec. 11.

The continuing resolution was the subject of negotiations among Democratic and Republican congressional leaders along with the White House. Both sides were still working through some of the details on a farm aid provision and the bill text had not been finalized yet, according to a Democratic aide.

House leaders have been planning for a vote next week in the chamber, and then it will be up to the Senate to act.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed earlier this month to keep talks on a virus relief stimulus package separate from the funding bill. Talks on stimulus have stalled since early August with both sides about $1 trillion apart in their offers.

The funding bill was subject to a last minute fight over farm aid that both sides were working to resolve Friday afternoon. Senate Republicans from farm states pushed for $30 billion to replenish funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corp., a government-owned entity that aims to stabilize farm income.

Trump announced $13 billion in new aid to farmers at a rally in Wisconsin on Thursday, and the corporation had already projected an increase in demand for agriculture risk coverage, price-loss coverage, and marketing-assistance loans.

Democrats had preferred to keep he farm aid debate for a separate stimulus bill but agreed to the change after securing $2 billion in food assistance for children. But the final language was still being worked on.

Some Democrats had sought to extend funding into next spring, betting that the Nov. 3 election will put them in charge in the Senate and White House. Republicans resisted that push with the argument that it would force Congress to finish work on full funding bills.

Lawmakers will try to complete work on the 12 annual appropriations bills for fiscal 2021 in the post-election lame-duck session in November and December. So far the Senate hasn’t drafted any of the bills, and there’s likely a battle ahead over paying for President Donald Trump’s wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and replacing military funds he raided to pay for the wall last year.

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