Lawmakers hope to pass full-year funding by Dec. 20, but caution the president could still throw a wrench into those plans.
President Trump on Thursday signed a month-long stopgap spending bill with just hours to spare before a government shutdown.
The House voted in favor of the continuing resolution through Dec. 20 on Tuesday, though it did so with little Republican support. The Senate approved the measure Thursday, but with overwhelming bipartisan support. 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. 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 could now 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 senators easily rejected an amendment from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to implement an across-the-board 1% spending cut.
“I’m optimistic that the passage of the continuing resolution today is something the 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 Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Thursday.
The Senate previously approved a package of appropriations measures to fund several agencies with overwhelming bipartisan support, 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. Negotiators have met in recent days to advance those talks, but have still not set the allocations.
Schumer warned Trump’s involvement could derail congressional progress. He suggested there are two paths the negotiations can go: one that is fruitful and bipartisan that sidelines Trump, and another in which Trump intervenes.
“On the second path, Trump stomps his feet makes impossible demands and prevents his party, the Republicans, from coming to a fair arrangement,” Schumer said. “The second path leads, as we all know, to another Trump government shutdown.”
On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., bemoaned the necessity of a second CR.
“We lack the will to work together,” Hoyer said. “We lack the will to do the American people's business on time, rationally, and without creating a sense that this institution cannot and does not work. I hope we use these days that are left between today and Dec. 20 in a productive, effective way so that the appropriations process can be concluded on Dec. 20 or before.”
This story has been updated to reflect that President Trump signed the CR into law on Thursday evening.