• Sat. Oct 31st, 2020

Pelosi, Mnuchin move to defuse potential for government shutdown at end of September

The Trump administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are planning to work together to avoid a government shutdown at the end of September, making an informal agreement to support continuing funding for existing programs without making any controversial changes.

The pact to move forward with what’s known in congressional parlance as a “clean CR” was discussed in a phone call between Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Pelosi, D-Calif., that took place on Tuesday, a source familiar with the call told NBC News.

“House Democrats are for a clean continuing resolution,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement.

Sept. 1, 202005:23

While this has obvious implications for the functioning of government and November’s election, it also is significant in the context of coronavirus relief talks.

There had been questions about whether the bitter standoff over unemployment insurance and aid for states and schools would lead to recriminations during the budget talks and spark a shutdown. It’s clear both the White House and congressional Democrats want to avoid that.

But that also means there’s no major additional deadline or point of leverage for the coronavirus money. While the ramifications of this move are still playing out — it could mean it’s less likely Americans will see major federal help before Election Day.

One other outstanding question: How long will Congress fund the government? Ahead of an election, it’s generally tradition to extend funding through mid-December and renegotiate once the results of the presidential race are clear.

But if Democrats are confident of a presidential win for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, it’s possible they could push for something farther into 2020 — which could spark Republican outcry.