House Democrats prepare stopgap until early December to skirt shutdown

It’s still unclear which funding and policy exceptions, or anomalies, will be included in the continuing resolution.

Democrats were fighting for a contentious provision that would extend the Census Bureau’s Dec. 31 deadline to turn over apportionment data used to divvy up House seats to the president — potentially punting the final handling of census data to Democratic nominee Joe Biden if he’s elected this November. They’ve argued that it would ensure an accurate 2020 census, while noting that Senate Republicans like Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) have already endorsed legislation to this effect.

Democrats have also pushed for $3.6 billion in election security grants. Republicans have wanted an anomaly requested by the White House, which Democrats oppose, that would ensure farmer bailout payments can keep flowing through the Commodity Credit Corporation, which otherwise would soon run into its $30 billion borrowing limit.

Democrats think it’s foolish to keep throwing money at a problem that President Donald Trump created with his trade policies.

“We have serious concerns about giving President Trump a blank check to spread political favors,” a Democratic aide said. “It is an abuse of taxpayer dollars to give this administration more money so the president can grab headlines with announcements at campaign rallies.“

Meanwhile, a senior GOP Senate leadership aide slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for being “so out of touch with flyover country that she’s essentially telling our nation’s farmers to ‘drop dead’ by withholding funding for this critical program.”

Despite the discord with less than two weeks until a federal funding lapse, lawmakers and White House officials have signaled that a catastrophic government shutdown — which would throw the country into further turmoil during the pandemic just before the presidential election — isn’t a concern.

Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said Thursday that the December date is “non-negotiable.”

“The cleaner it is, the quicker it will be,” he said of provisions that could be tacked onto the continuing resolution.

Even if the stopgap lasts until December, lawmakers could still punt the government funding deadline into early next year if there’s little appetite for bipartisan negotiations on a massive appropriations package in the weeks after the election.

“If it ends in December, then it could go either way,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chair of the subcommittee that oversees military construction funding, on Thursday.

“We could negotiate in earnest and finish before we adjourn for the year,” she said. “I think a lot of it is dependent on the outcome of the presidential election … There are a lot of balls in the air that are being juggled right now, a lot of uncertainty.“