The House and Senate are expected to consider a continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government through December 20 next week as the current CR expires next Thursday (November 21). The White House has indicated that the President will sign the stopgap measure once it is passed by the Congress, thereby avoiding a pre-Thanksgiving shutdown.
Top appropriators from the House and Senate met this week in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office to discuss a deal to avoid a shutdown. Their goal is to reach an agreement by next week on spending allocations for all 12 FY20 spending bills. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attended the meeting Thursday, reprising his role as the administration’s chief liaison with Congress in spending negotiations. This is a positive sign that a deal is near as Mnuchin enjoys more cordial relations with Democratic leaders than acting White House Chief of Staff and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) said she expects that they will get their work done by December 20.
Negotiations are stalled over how to allocate the $632B in nondefense spending. Senate Republicans approved allocations that gave the Department of Homeland Security an 8% increase over FY19, while the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill only received a 1% increase. The White House may be receptive to a deal to lower the Homeland Security allocation, and may be willing to consider scaling back their $5B request for border wall construction. But Democrats would have to abandon their effort to curb the President’s power to transfer $3.6B in military construction funding to wall construction.
Other legislation is being teed up now to ride on an end-of-year spending bill including a surprise medical billing bill and a short-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.