Hopes Dim For Omnibus Spending Bill Before Looming Government Shutdown Deadline


Even though appropriators had seemingly reached an agreement on overall funding levels for next year’s federal budget, lawmakers in Washington are preparing for the possibility that they won’t be able to pass an omnibus spending bill before a December 11 government shutdown deadline. 

Key Facts

If no comprehensive budget bill can be passed in time, lawmakers can pass a short-term continuing resolution that would extend government funding at current levels for a few months.  

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) indicated Wednesday that a “stopgap” continuing resolution looks likely given how much work still remains on an omnibus bill, according to Bloomberg’s Erik Wasson.

Disagreements still remain over border wall funding, veterans healthcare funding, and police budget restrictions, among other issues, and a separate defense bill worth $740 billion is also under threat amid a showdown between Congress and President Trump over legal protections for social media companies.

Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have indicated that they would prefer an omnibus bill to a short-term continuing resolution. 

Lawmakers are also juggling a renewed push for another federal stimulus bill: McConnell suggested earlier this week that pandemic relief measures might also be bundled with a spending bill, but there’s no indication yet there’s no indication that lawmakers could pull that together in time

Crucial Quote

“If we don’t finish it by the ninth and that’s next week, we’ll have to have a short CR,” Sen. Shelby said, according to Roll Call. “I think it’s where we’re headed at the moment.”

Big Number

8 days. That’s how long until the December 11 deadline. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday that both he and McConnell want to reach an agreement on coronavirus legislation and the federal budget by the end of this weekend, the Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis reported, so that the legislation can pass in Congress and be signed into law by President Trump in the middle of next week. 

Key Background

A $908 billion stimulus framework released by a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday received support from Democratic leadership on Wednesday. In a major concession, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)—who have not until now supported any proposal smaller than about $2.2 trillion—said the new framework could be used as a “basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations.” 

Further Reading

Stimulus Isn’t Dead Yet: Pelosi And Mnuchin Are Talking Again, McConnell Unveils Another Skinny Bill, And Moderates Are Pushing A New $900 Billion Plan (Forbes)

Congress Faces Tight Deadlines On Government Shutdown, Border Wall Funding, Stimulus, Trump Judges Before Year’s End (Forbes)

Pelosi And McConnell Want An Omnibus Spending Bill To Avert Government Shutdown, White House Chief Of Staff Says He ‘Can’t Guarantee’ It Will Happen (Forbes)

Last-minute snags complicate massive spending deal (Politico)

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