Sep 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Government shutdown looms over Congress

Illustration of government shutdown

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

We're about two weeks away from a government shutdown, as Congress and the White House remain deadlocked in negotiations over another coronavirus relief bill.

The latest: Negotiations between House and Senate leadership and the White House over a continuing resolution are expected to begin in earnest next week when the House returns from recess. Remember this deadline: Midnight on Oct. 1.

Details: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insist there won’t be a shutdown. Leaders on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue appear as far apart as ever on coronavirus relief funding, and a stimulus bill before November looks highly unlikely.

  • Both parties are pushing for a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) that would largely maintain current levels of funding for government agencies until some point after the election, Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said last week.
  • “There was an early decision among leadership on the Hill and at the White House not to couple coronavirus relief to the CR talks,” a Senate leadership aide told Alayna. “Having that agreement means we’ll likely not see a shutdown.”

Be smart: Election Day may be the saving grace when it comes to averting a shutdown.

  • “A lot of people want to get out of town to campaign and address these types of things in the lame-duck sessions,” a GOP congressional source said.

Between the lines: Republicans prefer a CR that runs only through December. That could give them more power to push their own priorities if they lose control of the White House.

  • Democrats want the CR to run through January, so that a potential Joe Biden administration could work with them on their priorities.
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