President Trump signed a stopgap, two-day spending bill Friday night to avert a partial government shutdown, a measure that will buy time for ongoing negotiations over a $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package.
The House and Senate passed the bill earlier Friday; it allows the funding deadline to extend from Friday to the end of Sunday.
The extension averts a midnight government shutdown, and gives Congress more time to finish a year-end spending agreement and coronavirus aid package.
After months of fruitless negotiations, optimistic party leaders earlier in the day said they believed they were “very close” to passing the aid bill, which includes a $300 per week federal boost to unemployment and more small business loans.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said early in the day he was “even more optimistic now than I was last night,” but Democrats launched a concerted campaign to block an effort by GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania to insert language to end five emergency Federal Reserve lending programs created in the March CARES Act.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is shutting down the programs at the end of December, but Toomey’s language goes further, by barring the Fed from restarting the lending next year, and Democrats say the provision would tie Biden’s hands and put the economy at risk.
House Speaker Nancy PelosiAFP via Getty Images
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin also blocked an effort from his fellow Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri to deliver $1,200 checks to individuals — a measure both he and socialist Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders have been pushing.
Citing deficit concerns, Johnson said the checks would be “mortgaging our children’s future.”
Lawmakers had been hoping to tack the funding package onto the $1.4 trillion government spending bill before funding lapses at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and McConnell reportedly instructed their staff to come to a final agreement by 5 pm after more than nine months of inaction.
As the death toll continues to reach new daily records and the holiday season approaches, Congress has just days to come to an agreement on how much should be spent on key sticking points like direct stimulus checks and money for broke state and local governments.
An estimated 12 million people will lose their unemployment insurance the day after Christmas if Congress fails to extend provisions from the March CARES Act that expanded benefits.
Millions will also face the threat of losing their homes if a federal eviction moratorium lapses at the end of the month.
With Post wires