No deal on government funding as Thursday shutdown approaches

But several issues are ensnaring the finishing touches on a short-term spending fix, with government funding set to expire on Nov. 21. Republicans are insisting on a “clean” short-term continuing resolution. However, House Democrats want to add roughly $7.5 billion for the Census Bureau, providing the agency with its full operating budget as it prepares…

But several issues are ensnaring the finishing touches on a short-term spending fix, with government funding set to expire on Nov. 21. Republicans are insisting on a “clean” short-term continuing resolution.

However, House Democrats want to add roughly $7.5 billion for the Census Bureau, providing the agency with its full operating budget as it prepares for the 2020 count. Republicans want to leave the issue to bicameral conference negotiations on full-year spending bills, according to a House Democratic aide.

House Democrats also want to fund a military pay increase and provide historically black colleges and universities with mandatory funding that lapsed at the end of fiscal 2019 in September, and they want to address a $7.6 billion rescission in highway funds that will take effect in July 2020.

House appropriators still aim to resolve the issues and release the text of a continuing resolution as soon as Monday.

But with a lack of progress over the weekend, appropriators are less optimistic that a deal on spending levels for individual 2020 funding bills will be reached before the House and Senate must pass a bill to avoid a government shutdown on Thursday.

“I think the 302(b) talks have stalled a little bit,” a Democratic aide told POLITICO. “We’re still trading papers, but they’re not going to be finished today.”

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said this month that negotiating special exceptions like this is “always a problem.”

“My preference is always a clean CR and clean appropriations,” Shelby said.

When it comes to spending levels, there are disagreements over one whether to use emergency cash to pay for bipartisan initiatives like the VA Mission Act — a new veterans program that Trump himself has championed — in order to free up some money for the Department of Homeland Security and Trump’s border wall.

The controversial border wall project had long been the sticking point in the 2020 spending talks as Democrats refuse to approve any money for Trump’s signature issue. Trump diverted several billion dollars in Pentagon funds last year, infuriating Democrats. The issue is now in federal court.

But during a meeting last Thursday between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and congressional appropriators, the two sides agreed to set the issue aside the border wall stalemate for the moment and move forward with other spending bills. That was supposed to yield a quick agreement on spending allocations, although that hasn’t happened up until now.

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