WASHINGTON - President Trump on Thursday signed a short-term funding bill, averting the threat of a government shutdown until next month.
Trump signed the bill, which will extend funding through December 20, hours before government funding was set to expire. The Senate, by a 74-20 vote, passed the short-term funding bill earlier in the day.
The push to keep the government funded came as the House was in the midst of contentious public impeachment inquiry hearings. House Democrats are probing whether Trump abused his power by pressing Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son's dealings in that Eastern European nation.
The stopgap spending bill would give negotiators four more weeks to try to break an impasse involving funding for Trump's border wall project that has gridlocked progress on the 12 appropriations measures that fund about one-third of the government.
Talks on the broader full-year appropriations measures hit a rough patch after the administration rejected bipartisan entreaties to add about $5 billion to grease their path.
Negotiations on the full-year measure also could be buffeted by the toxic atmosphere that's worsening because of the impeachment probe, which could send articles of impeachment to the House floor around the December 20 deadline for averting another shutdown.
The chief holdup is Trump's demand for up to $8.6 billion more for the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Republicans controlling the Senate have stuck with Trump despite worries that an impasse over his demands could force Congress into resorting to funding the government for the entire budget year at current spending levels.
"The appropriations process can go down one of two paths. On the first path, President Trump stays out of our way and gives Congress the space to work together and find an agreement," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "On the second path, President Trump stomps his feet, makes impossible demands, and prevents his party, the Republicans, from coming to a fair arrangement."
Both sides on Capitol Hill want to avoid any chance of such a full-year continuing resolution, as it is known. Such an outcome would be an inefficient way to run the government and has particularly negative consequences for the Pentagon budget.
The measure contains an assortment of technical provisions to ensure that spending on the 2020 census can ramp up despite delays in the agency's full-year funding bill. It also reverses a planned cut in highway spending next year and offers greater assurances about funding a 3.1 percent pay raise for the military that takes effect January 1.
It would extend, for three more months, several surveillance-related provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that expire December 15 and that civil libertarians say are controversial.