Late Deal Averts a Government Shutdown

Congress gets more time, will continue working on COVID package
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 11, 2020 2:42 PM CST
Congress Buys a Week for Pandemic Relief Talks
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks about the pandemic's toll on Thursday in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Congress shipped a temporary government-wide funding bill to President Trump on Friday, averting a government shutdown at midnight and buying time for on-again, off-again talks on COVID-19 relief. The bill, which sets a new shutdown deadline of midnight next Friday, passed the Senate by a unanimous voice vote that came without much drama and sent rank-and-file senators home for the weekend with no clear picture of what awaits next week. The House passed the bill on Wednesday, and the AP reports Trump is expected to sign it before midnight. COVID-19 relief talks remain stalled, but there is universal agreement that Congress won't adjourn for the year without passing a long-delayed round of pandemic relief.

An emerging $900 billion aid package from a bipartisan group of lawmakers hit a rough patch after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell swung against the effort, but negotiations are ongoing and pressure remains intense. The House has recessed for a few days, with leaders warning members to be prepared to return to vote. The breakdown over the COVID-19 aid package comes as Trump has taken the talks in another direction—insisting on a fresh round of $600 stimulus checks for Americans. Sending direct cash payments to households was not included in the bipartisan proposal but has been embraced by Trump critics—including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress would keep working up to or even after Christmas to get an agreement.

(More economic stimulus package stories.)

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