Shutdown Threat Looms as Senate Attempts to Forge Through Flurry of Votes, House Departs D.C.
Should Congress pass legislation to prevent future government shutdowns by extending funding automatically?
What’s the story?
- The Senate adjourned Thursday evening without a clear path forward on approving legislation to avoid the beginning of a partial government shutdown this weekend, while the House adjourned until at least Tuesday and may not return to the Capitol until deals on government funding and coronavirus relief are reached.
What’s happening in the Senate?
- Senators are hoping to pass two pieces of legislation on Friday, a continuing resolution (CR) to extend government funding for one week to avoid a shutdown, and the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2021.
- To do that they will need to reach a unanimous consent agreement to bypass procedural hurdles that would otherwise preclude the passage of either on Friday, and that will likely require unanimous consent to hold votes on amendments potential holdout senators insist upon.
- There are reportedly several senators looking to secure votes on amendments Friday. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wants to vote on an amendment to the NDAA that would remove provisions restricting President Donald Trump’s ability to draw down troops from Afghanistan, although it may not be practical due to Senate rules governing conference reports. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wants to vote on an amendment to the one week CR that would provide another round of COVID-19 stimulus checks.
- Additionally, a group of senators that includes Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), wants a vote on legislation to prevent future government shutdowns by automatically extending funding at current levels. The group hasn’t indicated that they will delay a vote on the stopgap funding bill without the amendment vote.
- If an amendment is adopted to the CR, the House of Representatives would have to return to pass the bill again before it could be enacted because of changes to the legislative text.
What’s happening in the House?
- The House passed the NDAA on Tuesday and the one-week stopgap spending bill on Wednesday before adjourning on Thursday.
- Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced Thursday that the House isn’t expected to return until Tuesday at the earliest, and may not reconvene a deal is reached on spending legislation for the rest of FY2021 and on coronavirus (COVID-19) relief.
- Lawmakers have made little progress in resolving outstanding issues in COVID-19 relief negotiations, including funding for state and local governments, liability protections, and stimulus checks. A bipartisan group that outlined a $908 billion package still hasn’t translated their framework to legislative text.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Gino Barasa via Flickr / Creative Commons)
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