U.S. House Democratic leaders hope for Tuesday vote on bill to avoid shutdown

By Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic leaders of the U.S.

Reuters September 23, 2020 03:11:17 IST
U.S. House Democratic leaders hope for Tuesday vote on bill to avoid shutdown

US House Democratic leaders hope for Tuesday vote on bill to avoid shutdown

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives said they hoped to have a vote later Tuesday on a stopgap government funding bill, after putting the legislation on hold earlier in the day while debating whether to include farm aid sought by President Donald Trump.

With government funding running out on Sept. 30, leaders of both parties were working on legislation to continue funding most programs at current levels and thus avoid a government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic, and with the Nov. 3 elections fast approaching.

House Democrats announced Monday they had filed the stopgap funding legislation to last until Dec. 11, but they angered Republicans by leaving out some farm money that Trump wanted.

The House Democrats paused the vote on the bill Tuesday as bipartisan talks continued. Addressing a possible vote later in the date, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "I would hope so," adding that there would be an announcement soon.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, also a Democrat, said the bill might be brought to the floor later Tuesday with an amendment. A House Democratic aide said the expected amendment would deal with farm relief and nutrition programs, but gave no details.

The version that House Democrats filed on Monday did not include the $21.1 billion the White House sought to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation, a program to stabilize farm incomes, because Democrats considered it a blank check for political favors. Trump, who faces a tough fight against Democratic rival Joe Biden in some farm states, had promised more farm aid last week during a political rally in Wisconsin, a key battleground state in the Nov. 3 elections.

Republicans were furious at the omission. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Pelosi's resistance to including farm aid in the bill was "basically a message to farm country to drop dead."

The rest of the bill generally continues current spending levels. It would give lawmakers more time to work out spending through September 2021, including budgets for military operations, healthcare, national parks, space programs, and airport and border security.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and David Morgan; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Leslie Adler)

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