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Trump signs weeklong funding extension to buy time to prep omnibus

Measure would extend government funding for a week to prevent shutdown while 5,593-page package is prepared and sent to president

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., says he won't allow a quick vote to override a presidential veto of the annual defense policy bill.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., says he won't allow a quick vote to override a presidential veto of the annual defense policy bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump signed into a seven-day stopgap funding measure Monday night that was designed to avoid the risk of a government shutdown over Christmas.

The Senate, on a voice vote, had cleared the continuing resolution to extend current funding for a week, even though Congress was in the process of passing a mammoth spending measure funding all federal agencies through next September, along with nearly $900 billion in coronavirus relief.

The spending Band-Aid Trump signed gives Congress extra time to process the 5,593-page omnibus without any shutdown risk. The House had approved the stopgap earlier Monday as part of a procedural rule on the omnibus measure. That rule was approved on a mostly party-line vote of 227-180.

While the omnibus measure cleared Congress late Monday night, extra time would be needed to get the final legislation printed and signed by House and Senate officials, then packaged and delivered to Trump’s desk. It wasn’t clear that Trump would have had time to sign that voluminous measure by midnight Monday, when the most recent stopgap funding was set to run dry.

Computer glitches with uploading the omnibus legislative text files also delayed the bill’s release Monday morning, contributing to the timing uncertainty.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., who came to Congress as a House member in 1997, said it was the largest piece of legislation he’d ever seen. “It’s a huge project, bigger than anything we’ve done in the time that I’ve been here,” Thune told reporters Monday.

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Under the House procedural maneuver, adoption of the rule for floor debate on the big spending package would automatically send the new stopgap bill to the Senate, which would take it up later on Monday.

A seven-day continuing resolution would give Trump plenty of time to sign the omnibus without the risk of a shutdown over Christmas week. The White House has suggested the president is prepared to sign the measure, partly because he wants a new round of pandemic relief with tax rebate checks to most households.

The president usually spends the holidays at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The procedural rule also sets up the House for a vote to override Trump’s expected veto of the fiscal 2021 defense authorization bill.

Trump has until midweek to formally veto the measure, as he has promised to do over objections to provisions requiring that military installations named after Confederate figures be renamed and the lack of a repeal of a provision of telecommunications law.

The rule allows for the House to return Dec. 28, for an override vote.

Sen. Rand Paul who supports the president’s position, said Monday he plans to object if the Senate tries to schedule a quick vote on overriding Trump’s expected defense policy bill veto.

“I’ve told them I’ll come back to try to prevent them from easily overriding the defense bill veto,” the Kentucky Republican said.

There’s no limit to debate of veto messages on the Senate floor, so they can be filibustered. In that case, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would likely have to file cloture to get around the objections of his colleague.

Lindsey McPherson and Jennifer Shutt contributed to this report.

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