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Congress has only a few weeks to avoid another government shutdown as it comes back to Washington

Key Points
  • Congress returns to Washington with only three weeks to fund the government or risk another shutdown. 
  • Democrats are pushing for a short-term appropriations measure next week as lawmakers try to avoid letting funding lapse. 
The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Congress heads back to Washington this week once again facing a government shutdown with little time to act.

Lawmakers return from a month at home with only three weeks to stop federal funding from lapsing. Current appropriations run out at the end of September.

Facing the risk of a shutdown that could upend federal workers' lives and drag on the economy, the Democratic-held House will push to pass a short-term bill to keep the government running. The chamber will consider a so-called continuing resolution during the week of Sept. 16, House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., wrote to House Democrats last week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he expects Congress to pass an "interim continuing resolution to prevent any funding lapse" while the chamber works on passing regular long-term appropriations bills. 

It is unclear now whether President Donald Trump will support a short-term funding bill. Asked if the president would back a continuing resolution, a White House official said the administration looks forward to working with Congress to prevent a shutdown and pass full-year appropriations bills.

Lawmakers hope to avoid letting funding expire again only months after the longest shutdown in U.S. history. The partial closure lasted for 35 days in December and January, causing hundreds of thousands of workers to miss paychecks.

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House Democrats are pitching another short-term funding bill: Source

Last month, Democrats discussed the prospect of a stop-gap funding bill through at least Nov. 22, CNBC previously reported. A continuing resolution sets government funding at current levels.

Congress and the White House reached a deal in July to suspend the U.S. debt ceiling and set budget levels for two years. Lawmakers still need to approve the appropriations bills funding the government.

The House has already passed 10 of 12 funding measures. The Senate, which waited for a final budget agreement before moving forward with appropriations, has not passed any.

The Senate Appropriations Committee expects to consider four funding bills on Thursday.

The White House has told lawmakers it would not accept an "omnibus" spending bill that combines all appropriations measures, CNBC reported last month. That sets up a potential fight over funding for the Department of Homeland Security and Trump's immigration priorities, a thorny issue that contributed to the record shutdown in December and January.

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