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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated the chamber would vote as early as the week of Nov. 18 on legislation to temporarily fund the government.
“We do not want a shutdown of government,” Pelosi told a group of reporters on Capitol Hill on Nov. 14, insisting her caucus would have preferred to not rely on a continuing resolution. “So we have to make some decisions as we go forward.”
The government is funded by short-term authority that expires Nov. 21. To avoid a shutdown of agencies at the U.S. Department of Transportation and elsewhere in the federal apparatus, congressional appropriators recently signaled the short-term measure would run through late December.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer emphasized the House had advanced its fiscal 2020 funding measures, and he blamed Senate Republican leaders for not finalizing the appropriations process. “I’m frustrated, and I’m angry that we haven’t gotten this done,” Hoyer (D-Md.) said Nov. 14.
Leaders in the House and Senate have failed to agree on funding parameters primarily over disagreements over a wall along the border with Mexico. The White House insists funding for the wall would enhance security. Democratic leaders have suggested different approaches for security in that region.
“We face a pressing deadline of Nov. 21 and are still far behind in completing an orderly appropriations process,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said Oct. 31. “To reach agreement on allocations, Senate Republicans must drop their insistence on funding a wasteful wall at the expense of critical domestic programs.”
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), flanked by (from left) fellow Republicans John Barrasso (Wyo.), Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Mitch McConnell (Ky.), said he hopes "some of these important legislative items that have been left on the cutting room floor” will see the light of day again. (C-SPAN)
Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said the ongoing impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump in the U.S. House of Representatives is “crowding out important legislation for the American people.”
The Kentucky Republican explained the legislative agenda at risk includes the fiscal 2020 appropriations process, a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico, and a comprehensive military defense policy measure.
“We all know we need to fund the government,” McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill on Nov. 13. “It’s time to see if [Democrats] can walk and chew gum at the same time. They said they could. I don’t see much evidence of it yet.”
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate leadership team, added, “We hope that changes and that we’ll be able to get some action on some of these important legislative items that have been left on the cutting room floor.”
Since the start of the 116th Congress in January, the House has passed its fiscal 2020 appropriations bills, as well as legislation related to gun safety, equal employment pay and government reforms. These measures, and others, await consideration in the Senate.
Last month, the Senate advanced a legislative package that included a bill that would fund transportation programs through fiscal 2020. Specifically, the bill would provide $74.3 billion for programs across the federal transportation system, as well as provide for housing assistance and community development. The legislation would provide $1 billion for infrastructure grants and $679 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Under the bill, the Federal Aviation Administration would receive $17.7 billion, the Federal Railroad Administration would receive $2.8 billion, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would receive $972 million.
Public hearings on the impeachment inquiry of Trump kicked off in the House on Nov. 13, with additional hearings scheduled throughout the month. The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement was signed last year. Pelosi has expressed optimism about the agreement’s potential for reaching the floor by the end of the year.
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