Lawmakers Agree on Stopgap Spending Bill

Bipartisan leaders agreed Monday on a stopgap spending measure to avert a government shutdown later this week, buying themselves an additional two weeks.

If passed, the short-term bill would fund government agencies and extend expiring programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program through December 21, The Hill informs, adding that the deal would also postpone a disagreement over funding levels for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

The Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Richard Shelby, noted his goal was to “fund the government, to try to work around where we are.” Shelby added that Democratic and GOP lawmakers were “obviously working toward an impasse.”

Intense fighting over the proposed border wall was subdued over the weekend by the passing of former President George H.W. Bush. His death changed the course of what was expected to be an intense week of negotiations ahead of a December 7 funding deadline. The week will now be marked by lawmakers remembering the late president.

A meeting scheduled for today at which funding for the border wall was to be discussed was canceled, while Speaker Paul Ryan canceled votes for the week, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell postponed Senate business until Wednesday afternoon.

The break has provided lawmakers with more time to negotiate a bigger deal regarding funding for the wall. However, Republicans are aware that the chances of reaching a significant agreement on border security and immigration are slim and decreasing every day. The only leverage President Trump has is restoring protections for DACA recipients, which he revoked last year, but bipartisan lawmakers do not see that happening.

“The idea that they’re going to do a big exchange for DACA right now does not strike me as tenable,” said a Senate Republican strategist. “This has been discussed many, many times before.”

Republican lawmakers stress that they want to avoid a government shutdown as it would be counterproductive and could inflict political damage on their party heading into the 2020 election cycle. However, a possible shutdown this time would only affect parts of the government. Congress appropriated about 75 percent of its annual spending in five appropriations bills ahead of October 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

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