Source: China State Council Information Office
The U.S. Senate passed a temporary spending bill on Wednesday to fund the federal government into December, just a few hours before the annual spending bill would expire and the government was set to shut down.
The upper chamber approved the bill in an 84-10 vote, following the House’s passage last week. The measure has been sent to President Donald Trump, who will likely sign it into law to avoid a federal funding lapse just weeks before the presidential election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reached an agreement with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Republicans on the so-called continuing resolution (CR) legislation last week, which includes 8 billion U.S. dollars in additional food assistance and 21 billion dollars in farm aid.
Following the agreement, House lawmakers passed the bill with a bipartisan vote of 359-57.
Pelosi on Wednesday night thanked Democratic congresswoman Nita Lowey for shepherding the CR through the Congress, “averting a catastrophic shutdown in the middle of the ongoing pandemic.”
Once signed into law, the agreement will take the threat of a shutdown prior to the November presidential election off the table, but sets up the possibility of a funding fight and potential shutdown after the election and just before the start of a new Congress, according to a report by CNN.
The last government shutdown, from December 2018 to January 2019, was triggered by an impasse over funding for Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. It lasted for 35 days, the longest on record.
The stopgap funding measure came as Democratic and Republican lawmakers remain deadlocked over the next COVID-19 relief package, which is much needed to salvage an economy reeling from the pandemic.
“Let’s be clear, the fact that we are passing a CR without having already passed an additional COVID stimulus bill represents cruelty and gross incompetence of the highest order,” said Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a House Democrat from Florida.
Amid mounting pressures to roll out an aid package, Democratic and Republican leaders have repeatedly blamed each other’s sides for the lack of progress on the negotiations.
Pelosi and Mnuchin resumed their talks earlier this week over a 2.2-trillion-dollar relief package newly proposed by House Democrats, a scaled-back package of a 3.4-trillion-dollar proposal the Democratic-held House passed in May.
In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Pelosi said she had an extensive conversation with Mnuchin earlier in the day in which they “found areas where we are seeking further clarification,” adding that their conversation would continue.
Some Senate Republicans have signaled they are not willing to support any package that costs over 1.5 trillion dollars. Sticking points in negotiations include more aid for state and local government and liability protections for businesses.