NOVEMBER 24, 2020
Top House and Senate appropriators on Tuesday clinched a deal on a bipartisan set of funding levels, paving the way for a $1.4 trillion spending package to avert a government shutdown next month.
The agreement on the funding allocations, confirmed by a House Democratic aide, establishes overall totals for 12 appropriations measures that will be rolled into one massive omnibus bill that would boost federal budgets for the rest of the fiscal year. Negotiators plan to keep the numbers — known as 302(b)s — under wraps until a bipartisan, bicameral omnibus is finalized, the aide said.
The deal comes at a time with little margin for error. After the Thanksgiving break, both chambers will have just two weeks to flesh out the finer points of the 12-bill spending package and pass the legislation in order to avoid a government shutdown by the Dec. 11 deadline.
Key context: House Democrats unveiled their funding allocations earlier this year and passed most of their spending bills in two big bundles over the summer, while Senate Republicans only released their numbers earlier this month and haven’t passed any bills.
Appropriators and staff have worked for days to resolve a number of outstanding issues between the two sets of figures, including how to classify veterans health care spending, funding for nuclear cleanup and state unemployment costs as joblessness remains high during the pandemic, according to aides close to the talks.
It’s unclear whether any stimulus measures will accompany the government funding package. Senate Republicans have been increasingly pessimistic about attaching coronavirus relief to the spending bill, while Democrats have remained somewhat optimistic.
“We have been working on the omnibus bill and I thought that would be a segue into” coronavirus relief, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday during her weekly press conference. “Let’s hope that it is.”
Top Senate Republicans have signaled that the White House will sign off on an omnibus, rather than another continuing resolution that would keep federal funding flat while avoiding a shutdown. But officials’ assurances as to what President Donald Trump will ultimately support have been somewhat vague.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Capitol Hill last week that he can’t “guarantee” a government shutdown is off the table, but “it’s a high priority to make sure we keep our government funded.”