WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress and the White House are discussing legislation to keep U.S. government agencies operating beyond Nov. 21 when existing funding expires, with an eye toward avoiding shutdowns as Democrats could be moving to impeach President Donald Trump, lawmakers and a White House official said on Tuesday.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, a Republican, told reporters that a range of dates were possible for the duration of the next stop-gap funding bill.
A bill lasting until mid-December or even well into 2020 was possible. “My assessment the other day was it would probably go through February. I could be totally wrong,” Shelby said of a temporary spending bill that would be needed because Congress has failed to finish work on any of the dozen regular appropriations bills for fiscal 2020, which began on Oct. 1.
Democrats in the House of Representatives have launched a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions related to the withholding of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine.
By late November or December, the House could be engaged in a full-blown debate and votes on articles of impeachment against Trump. If passed by the House, Trump would then be subjected to a trial by the Senate in a procedure that could end with his removal from office if found guilty of any House charges.
He denies any wrongdoing.
Both Republicans and Democrats are mindful of the political chaos that could ensue if Congress was in the midst of an impeachment battle with Trump as a partial government shutdown was triggered over the lack of operating funds.
Such dysfunction in Washington could rattle global financial markets while causing deep concerns domestically about the federal government’s ability to endure two crises at once.
Late last year and early this year a record-long 35-day government shutdown of some agency functions occurred after Congress refused to give Trump the money he demanded to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The same dispute has slowed action on the fiscal 2020 spending bills.
White House legislative liaison Eric Ueland told reporters that Trump would go along with another stop-gap funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, so long as it “does not restrict his authorities or ability to pursue his policy priorities including wall construction.”
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