With the end of the fiscal year quickly approaching (September 30, 2020), House and Senate leaders are on a path to soon enact a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government past the November election. The path for a clean CR was set last week when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) came to an informal agreement to pursue a short-term measure to avert a government shutdown on its own, rather than coupling it with a new COVID-19 relief package. While it remains to be seen what the duration of the CR will be, and what else it may carry (surface transportation and flood insurance authorizations expire on September 30, as well) the prevailing thought is that it will fund the government into December. There remains some chatter that Democrats may prefer a longer extension of funding, however, several Republicans including Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) have publicly voiced support for a short-term bill through December. The current hope is that a CR will pass by September 25, 2020.
As a reminder, in July the House completed consideration of 10 out of 12 spending bills in the form of two “minibuses” (H.R. 7608 and H.R. 7617), with the Legislative Branch and Homeland Security bills ultimately being pulled for a variety of political factors. In the Senate, appropriators have yet to conduct any Committee markups for FY 2021. It is rumored that Chairman Shelby may release drafts of Senate appropriations measures sometime this fall to act as the chamber’s bargaining position for negotiations on a longer-term funding measure that may be considered in the lame-duck period following the November election.