Political News

Bipartisan negotiations over spending bill are not finished yet but moving in right direction

Posted September 17, 2020 4:53 p.m. EDT

— Democrats and Republicans are still trading proposals to keep the government open after September 30. One of the key sticking points is a disagreement over how long the spending bill should go through.

According to one Democratic aide familiar with negotiations, Democrats sent a proposal to Republicans Wednesday night and are waiting to hear back. Democrats want a continuing resolution to go to February, when there is a chance Democrats will have won the White House or the Senate. Republicans are looking for a shorter-term continuing resolution to run through mid-December.

House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said Thursday that Democrats planned to introduce the stop-gap bill on Friday, with a likely vote on Tuesday of next week.

Democrats are asking for two key "anomalies" (a fancy way of saying additional spending or unrelated legislation) to be connected to the CR. They are asking for $3.6 billion in election security funding. They are also looking to include bill language that seeks to extend the 2020 Census by four months. The census extension, though it has the support of some Republicans like Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, is considered a non-starter by the White House, according to an administration official.

"Part of the thing is the dates. Some of it we are not going to agree to. The cleaner it is, the quicker it is," Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby told reporters Thursday.

Republicans, meanwhile, have requested that more funding for the Commodity Credit Corporation be included. The CCC is an entity that provides money for farmers who have experienced losses. It's been responsible for paying farmers for funding lost as a result of recent trade wars.

The process has started to smooth out over the course of the last day or two, people involved said. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin walked through pieces of the proposals in a phone call on Wednesday night and each proposal has brought the two sides closer to a resolution, the people said.

"I don't think anybody wants to be responsible for shutting down the government on the eve of an election in the middle of a pandemic, so it's a rare outbreak of common sense on both sides," said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a veteran House appropriator.

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