Trump signs stopgap funding bill to avoid Oct. 1 shutdown

Congress has about eight weeks to finalize a spending plan for fiscal year 2020 but disagreements over a border wall still loom large.

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President Donald Trump signed a stopgap funding bill on Friday to keep the government running through Nov. 21.

The bill gives Congress about eight weeks to agree on appropriations bills to fund the government for fiscal year 2020 or to settle on a single omnibus funding measure or a combination of vehicles -- including possibly another continuing resolution to avoid another complete or partial government shutdown.

Given the legislative calendar, that amounts to about 27 working days on Capitol Hill in which either the House and the Senate are in session.

The Republican-controlled Senate is still in the midst of advancing its slate of appropriations bills out of committee for consideration by the full body, but none of the Senate bills cleared that chamber.

The House of Representatives is further along in its work, having passed 10 of 12 appropriations bills.

Serious policy divisions remain between the parties, however, and a stalemate of the sort that led to a 35-day partial government shutdown last winter is a possibility – and where the 2020 budget is concerned there are added complexities.

Last year, a disagreement over funding for Trump's border wall project was focused on the Homeland Security appropriation. This year, the fight could bleed into the defense and military construction appropriations, as Democrats oppose restoring $3.6 billion in military construction funding used by the administration under an emergency declaration.

"Congressional Democrats have repeatedly made clear – including in our appropriations bills – that we will not give this president a blank check by backfilling these projects," said House Appropriations Chair Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) on the floor last Friday before a vote to block Trump's border emergency spending powers.

Last week the House and Senate voted to terminate that emergency declaration, although a veto of this measure is likely.

The Senate appropriated $5 billion for the wall in committee, but it remains to be seen whether this provision will clear the full Senate where 60 votes are required to advance funding measure. The House is blocking funding for the wall project entirely.

Also unknown is how the looming impeachment process will affect the prospects of a deal made on Capitol Hill.

One positive sign for a funding agreement – Democrats and Republicans are already agreed on topline spending. In August, Congress passed a budget agreement that sets discretionary spending limits in fiscal year 2020 at $1.37 trillion.