| November 19, 2019 03:05 PM
The House passed a stopgap funding bill that will keep federal government operations running until Dec. 20.
The bill, passed by the House 231-192 Tuesday, now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to pass it by Thursday when a temporary funding measure expires.
The bill marks the second stopgap measure, or continuing resolution, that Congress has authored in place of full fiscal 2020 spending bills, which are stalled due to partisan differences in the Senate.
“This continuing resolution ensures critical government funding will remain in place through Dec. 20,” Rep. Tom Cole, an appropriator, said.
“While short-term measures are never ideal, this extension of funding is necessary to ensure that the House and Senate can continue to negotiate and reach agreement on a full-year appropriation for fiscal year 2020,” said Cole, an Oklahoma Republican.
The House, run by Democrats, is working with Senate Democrats and Republicans to settle differences on fiscal 2020 spending bills so that the two chambers can work out an overall compromise.
Much of the dispute appears to center on the Senate GOP’s move to dedicate money for the construction of a southern border wall, which Democrats oppose.
Democrats want to start over on allocating money for each of the 12 federal spending bills to reduce or eliminate the wall funding.
Top bipartisan negotiators in the House and Senate are hoping to reach a deal by Wednesday, but so far there is no accord.
“These talks must continue because it is vital that we work in good-faith to fund important priorities for the coming year,” McConnell said Tuesday.
If lawmakers can’t reach a deal this week, the new stopgap measure leaves only a few weeks to work something out when lawmakers return from a weeklong recess that is scheduled to begin Thursday.
Lawmakers acknowledge they may end up passing 11 of the 12 spending bills and leave out the homeland security spending bill, which includes the disputed wall funding.
But Cole said he thinks the two parties can work out a deal on the full dozen bills.
“I’m actually somewhat optimistic that in the next 30 days we can get that job done and get out of this cycle of continuing resolutions and actually have a fully functioning government with 12 appropriations bills,” Cole said.
Democrats blamed McConnell, who they say is holding up not only spending bills but hundreds of House-passed measures, although that is common when the chambers have opposing majorities.
The House passed spending measures earlier this year, but they do not comport with a bipartisan deal on spending caps and are far out of line with what the GOP would accept.
“The Senate majority leader should be sued for malpractice for his inaction,” House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern said.