No clear spending deal as Congress inches closer to government shutdown

 No clear spending deal as Congress inches closer to government shutdown

Congress is nearing a potential government shutdown as the deadline to pass a new spending bill approaches, though it’s unclear what an eventual deal will look like.

The Senate and House are both still far apart on fiscal 2021 funding levels, key policy points, and the amount of coronavirus relief funds that should be dispersed.

House Democrats have released a bill that would provide $915 billion in federal funding, along with $464 billion in targeted COVID-19 relief, which is far more than the $688 billion proposed by Senate Republicans.

Meanwhile, the White House has expressed little interest in getting involved in negotiations, saying that it will not support a giant spending bill that goes beyond its $688 billion proposal.

Most congressional aides and a number of Republicans involved in appropriations negotiations agree that any potential deal will need to include some type of targeted COVID relief. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he is willing to increase his proposal to $750 billion, though Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) wants to stick closer to the White House’s number of $688 billion.

It’s still unclear, however, if the two sides can bridge the divide in time for a deal. The current fiscal year ends on November 21 and Congress only has until then to pass a spending bill or the government will shut down.