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House Passes Month-Long Spending Bill With Two Days Until Shutdown

Congress appears likely to avoid a Thanksgiving lapse in appropriations, but will face a new deadline near Christmas.

The House on Tuesday approved a stopgap spending bill, this time hoping to kick the can on full-year appropriations to Dec. 20. 

The measure will now go to the Senate, which is expected to approve the bill before the current continuing resolution expires Thursday. The White House has indicated President Trump will sign the stopgap spending bill to avoid a shutdown. Federal agencies have been operating under a CR since Oct. 1. 

Lawmakers negotiated the month-long temporary spending bill to give leadership more time to finalize full-year measures for fiscal 2020, which would set line-by-line appropriations for each federal agency. Still, House Republicans overwhelmingly voted against the stopgap bill. 

Top negotiators in Congress previously speculated the stopgap would last into February or March, but bumped up the timeline in hopes of avoiding more CRs later in the year. Most federal agencies are in line for spending bumps over the fiscal 2019 levels thanks to a budget deal Trump signed into law earlier this year. The new shutdown deadline will now likely coincide with votes on Trump’s impeachment. 

The CR includes $7.3 billion for the Census Bureau to carry out its decennial count next year, as well as a 3.1% pay raise for military members. 

The Senate has easily approved a package of appropriations measures to fund several agencies, while the House has passed most of its spending bills largely along party lines. Some spending measures were held up in the Senate due to Democratic concerns over funding for physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

In the coming weeks, congressional leaders hope to set allocations for each of the 12 spending bills lawmakers must pass annually. Once those funding levels are set, appropriators can attempt to complete the work of writing each bill and resolving the remaining sticking points.

On the House floor Tuesday, Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said American families, businesses and communities “need the certainty of full-year funding.” She reiterated her caucus must still reach an agreement with Senate Republicans over the allocations for each of the 12 bills before that process can move forward.