U.S. House Approves Bill to Avert Government Shutdown

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed legislation to avert a government shutdown, sending the bill to the U.S. Senate with just eight days left before current federal funding expires. The short-term spending measure, known as a continuing resolution, would keep the government running through December 11, 2020.

According to CNBC:

[House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi said the proposal would include $8 billion for nutrition assistance for schoolchildren and families. It renews Pandemic EBT, a program that provides food benefits while schools are closed set to expire at the end of September, for a full year.

It also adds increased accountability for farm aid money to prevent it from gong to large oil companies, according to Pelosi. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had criticized a lack of farm assistance funds in a bill House Democrats released Monday.

While a continuing resolution temporarily ensures that the government will remain open, it signals that lawmakers are, once again, unable to agree on a series of year-long spending bills before the ones from the previous year lapse at the end of the month.

A similar situation in 2019 led to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. That impasse, which lasted 35 days, had a significant impact on federal employees, as well as related segments of the Maryland and regional economies.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, approximately 172,000 Marylanders impacted by the 2019 partial government shutdown missed out on an estimated $778 million in wages, resulting in $57.5 million less in state and local income tax withholding and $2.1 million less in sales tax collections. While furloughed federal workers received back pay once the shutdown ended, it’s unlikely that federal contractors were able to recoup lost wages.

In response, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Federal Shutdown Paycheck Protection Act, which provides for no-interest loans to essential government employees in the state who must report to work without pay.

Negotiations on a fourth COVID-19 relief bill failed before the Senate recessed in early August, and there are no signs of progress on a new coronavirus relief package.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

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