With no deal on government funding, House Democrats prepare fallback bill

Tribune Content Agency

WASHINGTON — Negotiations to avert a partial government shutdown in 10 days were at a standstill Monday morning.

House Democrats were planning to file their own version of a bill before the Rules Committee meets at 1 p.m. that would remove agriculture and nutrition policy riders that were in dispute late Friday. That decision wasn’t sitting well with Senate Republicans, however, increasing prospects for a legislative ping-pong match and sending an amended version back to the House close to the Sept. 30 deadline.

The House bill would preserve the Dec. 11 end date both parties had agreed to Friday, but would drop a $30 billion replenishment of Commodity Credit Corporation funds for farm payments, which the White House and congressional Republicans have sought. It would also drop a $2.7 billion extension of the expiring Pandemic EBT program sought by Democrats, which provides meals for children who would normally receive free or reduced-price lunches when schools are open.

Those provisions had been tentatively agreed to as part of a “deal in principle” on Friday, according to sources involved in the talks. But when word got around, some Democrats balked at what they viewed as insufficient food aid for low-income families compared to the generous funding for farmers and ranchers.

Democrats also didn’t get the longer continuing resolution they wanted, with many pushing for a bill that would last until at least February. Nor did Republicans agree to Democratic asks for an extension of the census’ redistricting-related deadlines or more election security funding.

The standoff comes amid frayed nerves rattled by the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and President Donald Trump’s pending pre-election nomination of a potential successor. Democrats expressed outrage at the potential move, citing hypocrisy on the GOP side after President Barack Obama’s 2016 high court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, didn’t even get a Senate hearing.

For now, though, top Democrats say they want to keep Supreme Court politics out of the government funding fight.

“None of us has any interest in shutting down government,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” program. “That has such a harmful and painful impact on so many people in our country, so I would hope that we can just proceed with that.”


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