House Democrats Unveil Bill to Avert Government Shutdown, Without Farm Aid

September 21, 2020 Updated: September 21, 2020

House Democrats introduced legislation on Sept. 21 that would keep the federal government funded until Dec. 11, although it isn’t clear if the White House or congressional Republicans will take it up, raising the prospect of a federal shutdown by the end of this month.

While the continuing resolution (CR) (pdf) would extend current levels of spending past the Sept. 30 deadline, it doesn’t include $30 billion in aid that the White House has sought for farmers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

“We do prefer additional farm aid in the CR. Most of all we want a clean CR, keep the government open,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters on Sept. 21, suggesting that the White House may still accept the bill without farm aid. It isn’t clear if the Republican-led Senate would support the measure.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were attempting to reach a compromise on the farm bailout money before the talks broke down on Sept. 18, according to reports. Much of Congress’s attention is focused on the looming fight over filling a Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18.

The short-term spending bill introduced by the Democratic-controlled House also doesn’t include any new COVID-19 provisions. Negotiations around the next stimulus package stalled more than a month ago, despite pressure from President Donald Trump on Republicans and a bill that was introduced by moderate Democrats and Republicans to revive the talks.

Pelosi and Mnuchin, in public statements, agreed earlier this month to keep talks on the virus package separate from the continuing resolution to fund the government.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks during a press conference before the vote on the ‘Delivering for America Act’ to protect the postal system on Capitol Hill in Washington on Aug. 22, 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Pelosi also dismissed the idea of using government funding as leverage in the Supreme Court fight.

“None of us has any interest in shutting down government. 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. There is some enthusiasm among some exuberance on the left to say let’s use that, but we’re not going to be shutting down government,” Pelosi told “This Week” on Sept. 20.

But in the same interview, Pelosi said that all options are on the table to block Trump’s Supreme Court pick from being confirmed before the November elections.

“We have our options, we have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now,” she said. “But the fact is, we have a big challenge in our country.”

Asked if Democrats won’t “rule anything out,” Pelosi said that lawmakers have responsibilities. She was also asked about whether she would support another impeachment.

“We have a responsibility, we take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. We have a responsibility to meet the needs of the American people. When we weigh the equities of protecting our democracy, requires us to use every arrow in our quiver,” Pelosi responded, without elaborating.