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September 26, 2019 3:45 PM, EDT

Congress Clears Temporary Federal Funding Bill for Trump

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A tense political climate on Capitol Hill did not distract the U.S. Senate on Sept. 26 from approving legislation that would ensure funding for the federal government through late November.

In an 82-15 vote, the Senate cleared legislation for President Donald Trump’s signature to avert a shutdown of federal agencies.

The legislation would maintain funding at current levels until Nov. 21, in order to afford congressional funding leaders additional time to finalize the fiscal 2020 appropriations process. Current funding authority expires Sept. 30.

The White House has indicated Trump would support the short-term funding bill, often referred to as a continuing resolution, or CR.

“As we close out this month, we must acknowledge the progress we have made, while also recognizing that we still have a long way to go in fulfilling our duty to fund the government,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) on Sept. 26. “Ultimately, the factors determining our success in fulfilling that obligation will have to be decided through bicameral, bipartisan negotiations — not by the Senate alone.”

The House had reported the funding extension bill Sept. 19.

“It is critical that we avoid another government shutdown, which would harm our economy and hardworking Americans,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said soon after the House had passed the bill. “Our continuing resolution will keep government open and provide families, businesses and communities with much-needed budget certainty while we negotiate long-term funding for key priorities. Democrats will negotiate responsible spending bills that uphold our values and give working families a better chance at a better life.”

The Senate vote occurred a few hours after a House panel reviewed allegations of impropriety with regard to Trump’s conversation over the summer with the leader of Ukraine. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced an impeachment inquiry of the president Sept. 24.

Earlier this month, a Senate committee advanced a fiscal 2020 transportation bill that would provide $679 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The Senate bill also would prohibit funding for the enforcement of the electronic logging device mandate for livestock haulers. Additionally, a report accompanying the bill encouraged the Federal Highway Administration to complete a study on the impact that automated vehicles have on highway infrastructure. In the report, senators acknowledged a shortage of commercial drivers while encouraging FMCSA to examine ways to expand the commercial driving workforce.

In a report accompanying a separate fiscal 2020 funding bill, senators reminded the Department of Health and Human Services of a directive that required them to produce scientific and technical guidelines for hair testing to deter usage of controlled substances. Besides directing the department to finalize such guidelines, the panel would require the secretary to provide Congress with a report.

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The House’s version of the fiscal 2020 transportation funding bill would require FMCSA to proceed with annual inspections of rear underride guards. Also, it would require the agency to publicly post certain Compliance, Safety, Accountability program information online, and it would deny funding for FMCSA’s review of an industry concern regarding state meal-and-rest-break laws.