House of Representatives passes bipartisan bill to fund government until early December
Despite tense negotiations between Democrats and Republicans, the House of Representatives passed the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act on Tuesday, September 22, to keep the government funded until December 11. The bipartisan bill attempts to push several highly debated issues until after the November election and avoid a government shutdown in the wake of a global pandemic.
The deal, which was negotiated between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, hit multiple road blocks in the past several weeks. Before the bill successfully passed on Tuesday, September 22, talks fell apart on Friday, September 18, and House Republicans rejected an initial draft presented on Monday, September 21. A deal was not made until Pelosi agreed to include tens of billions in funds to fund the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). The CCC distributes funding to farmers that have been hurt by the trade war with China. In exchange for funding for the farm bailout program, an additional $8 billion was secured for various nutrition programs, including the expansion of the Pandemic EBT program, which provides nutrition assistance for schoolchildren and families affected by the pandemic.
In addition to the above, the bill contains several other proposed appropriations and restrictions, including, but not limited to:
- Prevents the start of new activities outside the Department of Defense.
- Establishes a daily rate for operations for agencies unless approved by Congress.
- Reiterates that all funding should be spent in the most limited manner possible.
- Allows the Food and Nutrition Service and the USDA to spend at a higher rate and continue to issue loans to farmers.
- Extends the hemp pilot program, which allows for the continued legal growth and cultivation of hemp as directed by the Department of Agriculture.
- Provides additional funding for the Presidential Inauguration and transition.
- Allows the Small Business Administration to spend at the rate necessary to meet the demand for 7(a) business loans.
- Extends funds to several Medicare and Medicaid programs.
A section-by-section summary of the legislation can be located here.
The Senate is expected to vote on the funding bill immediately. Congress must pass the new legislation by Wednesday, September 30, to avoid large shutdowns throughout the government. President Trump has indicated that he will support and sign the new legislation if and when it passes through the Senate.