Bipartisan Funding Bill Will Help Federal Government Avoid Shutdown

( Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have finally come to an agreement.

But it’s not about the next coronavirus economic stimulus package. It’s an agreement to fund the federal government through December 11, avoiding a shutdown that could have gone into effect at the end of September.

The House approved the deal on Wednesday by an overwhelming majority, 359-57.

Part of the deal will include billions of dollars for the Commodity Credit Corporation, which was one of the priorities for members from both parties who represent states and districts that rely heavily on agriculture. The allocation of these funds will help replenish aid to farmers.

In addition, Wednesday’s agreement will include almost $8 billion in nutrition assistance. This was one of the priorities for Democrats throughout negotiations.

In a statement, Pelosi said:

“We have reached an agreement with Republicans on the (continuing resolution) to add nearly $8 billion in desperately needed nutrition assistance for hungry schoolchildren and families. We also increase accountability in the Commodity Credit Corporation, preventing funds for farmers from being misused for a Big Oil bailout.”

Negotiations broke down earlier on Tuesday. When that happened, Democrats drafted their own stop-gap bill that didn’t include the aid to farmers or to nutrition assistance.

Leadership from the Democratic Party switched courses quickly, though, when they realized that not only would it be tough to gain bi-partisan support for such a measure, but they would have a tough time convincing all members of their own party to agree. The concern was that Democrats from districts that are heavily supported by agriculture would defect.

Following the initial release of the House’s draft bill Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said:

“House Democrats’ rough draft of a government funding bill shamefully leaves out key relief and support that American farmers need. This is no time to add insult to injury and defund help for farmers and rural America.”

Ultimately, Democrats decided they didn’t want to run the real risk of a government shutdown happening if a funding plan wasn’t in place by September 30. Apparently, leadership decided they didn’t want to be blamed for a government shutdown and a lack of coronavirus stimulus bill with what would be only a month before the presidential election.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill sometime later this week. If they pass it, as is expected, then the measure would head to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.

As part of this agreement, negotiations on a number of hotly-contested issues will be put on the backburner for now. Those negotiations won’t pick up against until around December 11, which will be about a month after the presidential election.

Despite this funding bill in place, it’s unlikely that Pelosi, Mnuchin and other leaders will return to the negotiating table on a broader coronavirus relief package until after the election. That will leave a lot of Americans unhappy, as they will not benefit from programs and money they desperately need.

It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out at the polls come election day.