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Roby: Congress needs deal to keep the government funded by Friday

“With only a few days left in the 2020 legislative calendar, we have much work to do here in Congress,” Roby said.

Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama, said that Congress needs to do a deal to keep the government funded by Friday.

“With only a few days left in the 2020 legislative calendar, we have much work to do here in Congress, including a deal to keep the government funded past the current deadline of December 11,” Roby said in an email to constituents.

“The House of Representatives will also take up the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021,” Roby said. “This annual bill authorizes the various military programs and defense activities in the Department of Defense, ensuring progress is made toward increasing the strength and agility of our military.”

Congress postponed passing the spending bill until after the election. Congress passed a bill to keep the government funded at current levels in late September. Negotiations on a comprehensive bill to fund the government through the next fiscal year have been ongoing for weeks, but it might not be ready by Friday. Republicans and Democrats still have disagreements they need to resolve.

With it increasingly unlikely that they can reach a comprehensive deal by the deadline, Congress may simply extend the deadline.

On Monday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, announced that the House would vote on a one-week extension to fund the government on Wednesday to “keep government open while negotiations continue.”

A comprehensive deal that would set government funding levels moving forward is the best option. Congress could also avoid a government shutdown with another continuing resolution, where Congress simply funds the government at current levels until a certain date.

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There is also the thorny issue of a coronavirus stimulus bill. A bipartisan group of legislators introduced a compromise $900 billion stimulus, but it faces opposition from progressives who want a bigger bill that includes Christmas checks and conservatives who favor a much smaller $500 billion “skinny” bill that includes no bailouts for state and local governments.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and some House Republicans are still opposing any stimulus, even the skinny bill. A key sticking point is Republican insistence that any COVID-19 stimulus bill include blanket COVID-19 immunity from lawsuits. Progressives strongly oppose legal liability protection for employers.

The House is presently scheduled to leave after Thursday and as of press time, there is no deal on either a comprehensive spending deal or a coronavirus stimulus.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, who is the ranking Democrat on Sen. Richard Shelby’s Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters Thursday that he was frustrated by the pace of negotiations.

In early November, Leahy and Shelby released drafts of 12 government funding bills, hoping to find a compromise with the House of Representatives before the Dec. 11 shutdown, but there is still no deal from the House.

If the House passed Hoyer’s short-term funding extension, the Senate would also have to pass the stop-gap measure. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said that he would bring the one-week extension to the floor if necessary.

Hoyer has told House members to keep their schedules “flexible” with the deadline approaching. If Congress doesn’t pass a bill to keep the government funded, thousands of federal employees would either be sent home on furlough or ordered to keep working without pay.

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Roby’s tenure representing Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District in the House of Representatives ends at the end of the month. She chose not to seek a sixth term in Congress.

“Thank you for letting me be your voice in Congress over the past decade,” Roby said. “Serving you and all the people of the Second District was an incredibly unique and humbling opportunity.”

Congressman-elect Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, will be the representative beginning Jan. 3.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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