The lower house of the U.S. Congress today approved an extension of the budget until December 11 and the extension of some aid to avoid a shutdown of the federal administration on October 1 and in light of the failure to agree on a new pandemic stimulus program.
With 359 votes in favor, only 57 against and the abstention of New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the House of Representatives passes the baton to the Senate, which has one week to ratify the agreement to extend the federal accounts, which does not include a broader consensus among Democrats and Republicans on a major stimulus plan for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A disagreement over the budget on October 1 would be a major breakthrough in an already acrimonious U.S. presidential campaign over the decision by President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers to approve as soon as possible the replacement of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which would mean the replacement of a progressive judge by a conservative one and despite the fact that the country is in an election period.
This Tuesday, the Democratic and Republican congressmen got a last-minute budget agreement that includes aid to agriculture through a credit program, something that Trump was asking for, and guarantees, with a line item of $8 billion, the funds so that children in a situation of poverty can receive free or reduced-price food even in the absence of face-to-face classes.
Last week, Trump announced that the Administration will mobilize another $13 billion to help farmers who have been affected by the pandemic, something that is seen as a move to appease rural areas in the Midwest and Center on which the Republican president’s reelection in November largely depends.
Democrats opposed extending federal credit lines to agriculture because they saw them as a tactic to mitigate the impact that Trump’s protectionist measures and trade disagreements are having on the primary sector.
The agreement will prevent the temporary suspension of employment and wages of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USCIS) employees by increasing their immigration document handling fees, as well as prevent Medicare beneficiaries from seeing their health care costs rise.
The Democratic majority leader in the lower house, Nancy Pelosi, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, unlocked the negotiation that now moves to a Republican-controlled Senate.
If this mere extension of the budget finally passes the legislative process, Congress will again have to reach agreements on the federal accounts during the period between the November elections (presidential and legislative) and the inauguration of the new Congress and a possible change of government if Trump loses to his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.