House Approves Short-Term Spending Bill That Would Stave Off Shutdown

WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday approved a short-term spending bill that would stave off a government shutdown until just before Thanksgiving, allowing lawmakers additional time to resolve disputes over annual spending legislation without a funding lapse.

The spending bill would extend funding through Nov. 21 not only for all federal government departments and agencies, but also for a number of health care and community programs, including the National Flood Insurance Program and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

But its success in the House, by a 301-to-123 vote, is only a temporary salve to the bitter feuds that are standing in the way of a broader agreement over federal spending for next year. The Senate, in the midst of drafting and debating its own yearlong funding bills, has struggled to break through partisan spats over spending on President Trump’s promised wall at the southwestern border.

The bill passed on Thursday, said Representative Nita M. Lowey, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, “will provide families, businesses and communities with budget certainty while we negotiate long-term funding.”

The Senate is expected to pass the measure before funding lapses on Oct. 1, giving senators an additional two months — until just before Congress takes a weeklong Thanksgiving break — to pass a dozen spending bills, reconcile them with the House’s legislation and secure the president’s signature.

While congressional leaders and the White House reached agreement in July over nearly $1.4 trillion for defense and domestic programs, 12 annual bills are necessary to outline how that money will be divided among agencies, programs and departments. The House this year passed 10 of those bills, but at different funding levels than in the budget agreement.

But those bills cannot be reconciled until the Senate passes its own versions.

Senate Democrats have raised objections to how the Republican majority set funding levels for some of the bills, and provisions that would allow for more money to be set aside for barriers and fencing. Backed by their House counterparts, they have also objected to the administration’s demand that Congress replace $3.6 billion that was diverted from military construction projects to wall construction.

“We do not support diverting taxpayer dollars to build an ineffective and controversial wall along our southern border,” a group of Senate Democrats wrote in a letter this week, urging for a more bipartisan process. “Especially when those funds are stolen from our military and important investments for American families, such as college affordability, and our fight against the opioid crisis.”

Republicans, for their part, have pushed back on some amendments that they say are “poison pills,” legislative jargon for partisan provisions that could imperil the legislation on the Senate floor. And they have accused Democrats of violating the terms of the budget agreement, which barred such policy riders.

“Our Democratic friends turned on a dime, reneged on the bipartisan agreement, and began demanding exactly the kinds of new poison pills and partisan policy changes that we all promised to omit,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader. “It’s not about the money. It’s not about compromising and getting to ‘yes.’ It’s about not wanting to take ‘yes’ for an answer.”

The gridlock over the measures funding the military, military construction and labor and health programs led to the failure of a procedural vote on Wednesday that would have allowed the Senate to vote on some of the legislation.

Still haunted by the 35-day government shutdown that ended earlier this year, lawmakers are eager to avoid another funding lapse. But the acrimony is such that some lawmakers have already begun to raise the prospect of a full-year stopgap spending bill if agreement cannot be found.

“That’s what you might wind up with if we don’t get past a standoff,” Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama and the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters on Wednesday. “I think we’re talking to each other, but I don’t know if either one’s listening.”

Some of the bills, including the measures that would fund energy, agriculture, housing and transportation agencies and departments, among others, have advanced out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on unanimous votes of support, giving lawmakers optimism that at least some of the must-pass legislation will reach the president’s desk.

Mr. McConnell on Thursday also endorsed a $250 million grant in one of those bills that would help states fortify their election systems, calling it “exactly the kind of positive outcome that is possible when we stop posturing for the press.”

The stopgap legislation approved on Thursday would also replenish a program under the Commodity Credit Corporation, which has been providing aid to farmers affected by Mr. Trump’s trade war. But Democrats successfully included language requiring Sonny Perdue, the agriculture secretary, to submit an itemized list of payments made by the program and projections for future payments by next year.

Lawmakers also agreed to extend a full match in federal Medicaid funds for United States territories, another sticking point for negotiators.

The measure would also increase the amount of money for the Secret Service, to accommodate protection for the 2020 presidential candidates; add funds to carry out the 2020 census; and expand the number of Sept. 11 emergency workers who can enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program.

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