Thu, 24 Oct 2019

House Democrats Offer Bill to Fund Government, Avoid Shutdown

Voice of America
19 Sep 2019, 16:05 GMT+10

WASHINGTON - Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a stopgap government funding bill Wednesday that would maintain current spending levels until Nov. 21 and avoid a government shutdown when funding expires at the end of this month.

A vote is expected in the House Thursday, Democratic aides said.

The measure was the result of talks between both parties in both chambers. House majority leader Steny Hoyer said earlier Wednesday that he hoped Senate passage would swiftly follow approval by the House.

"Once we pass the (continuing resolution) ... I'm hopeful that the Senate will take it up, that we'll have agreement and that we will send it to the president, that the president will sign it," said Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat.

Deal passed in July

In July, Congress passed a two-year budget and debt deal that authorized discretionary defense and non-defense programs, but lawmakers still need to pass annual legislation to fund agencies and avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month.

Last December and January, the government shuttered for more than a month after President Donald Trump initially refused to sign a spending bill if it did not include funding for a wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico, one of his signature campaign promises.

The bill requires that the Department of Agriculture make a report to Congress by the end of October on payments made to U.S. farmers under the Trump administration's trade war mitigation program, a Democratic aide said. Payments to foreign-owned companies will have to be listed, he said.

The bill does not include any changes relating to Trump's immigration policies. Some liberal Democrats had proposed not replenishing projects at the Department of Homeland Security that Trump had defunded in order to pay for a border wall, but such provisions were not included in an effort to get a bill that would pass both the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-run Senate.

Plenty of debates ahead

Hoyer said lawmakers would still debate some of the border policy issues this autumn.

Once the funding bill is passed, "I think we're going to have some big fights with reference to things that we care very passionately about, including how people are treated at the border," Hoyer said.

The measure also includes funding Democrats sought for public-health centers and for the Medicaid health care program in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, a summary of the legislation said.

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