House To Vote On One-Week Stopgap Spending Bill To Buy Time For Stimulus Deal
The House will vote on a one-week stopgap spending bill Wednesday, pushing back a looming December 11 government shutdown deadline to give lawmakers more time to come to an agreement on a new coronavirus relief package.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he was “disappointed” that lawmakers could not agree on funding levels in time to pass an omnibus package before the deadline.
The Senate will also need to vote on the short-term continuing resolution, which will extend government funding at current levels.
That extra time will also allow lawmakers to put together a $1.4 trillion omnibus federal budget package for the 2021 fiscal year.
While coronavirus aid discussions gained momentum last week following the release of a $908 billion framework by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, negotiators are still grappling with differences over state and local aid and liability protections for businesses (two issues that have defined the impasse in Washington for months).
The issue of stimulus checks, which are not included in the framework because of their cost, has also divided lawmakers, with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) both maintaining that they won’t vote for any relief bill that does not include direct payments.
Lawmakers want to bundle virus relief provisions with the omnibus spending bill, but they still have budget disagreements to contend with, most notably over funding for Trump’s border wall, veterans healthcare funding, and funding for immigrant detention centers.
“We fully acknowledge that parts of this agreement — as well as items not included — will be difficult pills for some senators in both parties to swallow,” Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), both members of the bipartisan group that introduced the new framework, wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece on Sunday. “But the cost of inaction is higher if millions of American families are forced into the holiday season wondering whether they will be able to put food on the table or keep a roof over their heads.”
What To Watch For
The $908 billion framework won the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and even some Republican Senators last week, but the support of President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will be crucial for the new plan is to become law. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow suggested Monday that Trump would “likely” sign the $908 billion package, depending on the policy details.
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