House passes short-term spending bill to avoid government shutdown
The deal will fund the government through Dec. 11.
The House approved late Tuesday night, in a 359-57-1 vote, a stopgap bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not vote yes or no, but "present."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced earlier Tuesday that Democrats had reached a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to avert a government shutdown and fund the government with a continuing resolution through Dec. 11.
The Senate will likely vote on the measure by the end of the week -- where it is also expected to pass -- before it heads to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature. The stopgap measure must pass by Oct. 1 to keep U.S. agencies open.
The deal will add nearly $8 billion to the continuing resolution for food and nutrition assistance programs. And funding for farmers and the agriculture community is also included, at the GOP's request, with increased accountability measures.
"We have reached an agreement with Republicans on the CR to add nearly $8 billion in desperately needed nutrition assistance for hungry schoolchildren and families," Pelosi said in a statement. "We also increase accountability in the Commodity Credit Corporation, preventing funds for farmers from being misused for a Big Oil bailout."
"To help the millions of families struggling to keep food on the table during the pandemic, Democrats have renewed the vital, expiring lifeline of Pandemic EBT for a full year and enabled our fellow Americans in the territories to receive this critical nutrition assistance," she continued. "Democrats secured urgently needed assistance for schoolchildren to receive meals despite the coronavirus's disruption of their usual schedules, whether virtual or in-person, and expanded Pandemic EBT access for young children in child care. We also extended key flexibility for states to lower administrative requirements on SNAP for families in the middle of this crisis."
The surprise late-night agreement came just days after talks crumbled late last week over policy disagreements.
Democrats have contended that the farm aid for the Commodity Credit Corporation -- a GOP priority -- "wasn't help for farmers" but was "a bottomless, unaccountable political slush fund."
"House Democrats already passed more than $30 billion in targeted and tailored emergency aid to farm country in response to the pandemic as part of the Heroes Act, including language to ensure greater transparency and accountability with the Administration's use of the Commodity Credit Corporation, including decreasing the Secretary's ability to spend billions of taxpayer dollars without telling Congress," the aide added.
After lengthy negotiations did not produce a bipartisan agreement with Republicans, House Democrats introduced their own proposal Monday afternoon funding government until Dec. 11, moving "full steam ahead" on a vote Tuesday, according to a senior Democratic aide.
Recognizing the lack of an agreement, a senior House Democratic aide warned that the bill "may get stuck in the Senate" after House passage, creating an impasse leading up to the deadline at the end of the month.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said on Monday that the Commodity Credit Corporation was a necessity for GOP support.
"House Democrats' rough draft of a government funding bill shamefully leaves out key relief and support that American farmers need," he tweeted. "This is no time to add insult to injury and defund help for farmers and rural America."
Despite the disputes, both Pelosi and McConnell have been adamant about avoiding a government shutdown at the end of the month with the presidential election right around the corner.