Even with a huge year-end spending bill finally in hand, lawmakers took extra steps Monday to ensure there won’t be any government shutdown over Christmas.
On a mostly party-line vote of 227-180, the House approved a procedural rule on the omnibus spending measure that would include a stopgap bill extending current funding for seven days. The House Rules Committee earlier approved the rule for floor debate on an 8-4 vote.
That spending Band-Aid, if cleared by the Senate and signed by President Donald Trump, would give Congress an extra week to process the 5,593-page omnibus that would fund federal agencies through next September and provide some $900 billion in coronavirus relief.
Even if the Senate can clear the mammoth spending measure late Monday night, extra time would be needed to get the final legislation printed and signed by House and Senate officials, then packaged and delivered to Trump’s desk. It wasn’t clear that Trump would have time to sign the measure by midnight Monday, when current stopgap funding is set to run dry.
Computer glitches with uploading the omnibus legislative text files also delayed the bill’s release Monday morning, contributing to the timing uncertainty.
Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., who came to Congress as a House member in 1997, said it was the largest piece of legislation he’d ever seen. “It’s a huge project, bigger than anything we’ve done in the time that I’ve been here,” Thune told reporters Monday.
Under the House procedural maneuver, adoption of the rule for floor debate on the big spending package would automatically send the new stopgap bill to the Senate, which would take it up later on Monday.
A seven-day continuing resolution would give Trump plenty of time to sign the omnibus without the risk of a shutdown over Christmas week. The White House has suggested the president is prepared to sign the measure, partly because he wants a new round of pandemic relief with tax rebate checks to most households.
The president usually spends the holidays at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The procedural rule also sets up the House for a vote to override Trump’s expected veto of the fiscal 2021 defense authorization bill.
Trump has until midweek to formally veto the measure, as he has promised to do over objections to provisions requiring that military installations named after Confederate figures be renamed and the lack of a repeal of a provision of telecommunications law.
The rule allows for the House to return Dec. 28, for an override vote.
Sen. Rand Paul who supports the president’s position, said Monday he plans to object if the Senate tries to schedule a quick vote on overriding Trump’s expected defense policy bill veto.
“I’ve told them I’ll come back to try to prevent them from easily overriding the defense bill veto,” the Kentucky Republican said.
There’s no limit to debate of veto messages on the Senate floor, so they can be filibustered. In that case, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would likely have to file cloture to get around the objections of his colleague.
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