Loading...

Congress Passes Two-day Stopgap Bill to Avoid Shutdown and Keep Relief Bill Talks Going

December 18, 2020 by Dan McCue
Congress Passes Two-day Stopgap Bill to Avoid Shutdown and Keep Relief Bill Talks Going
The U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – The House and Senate on Friday evening passed a two-day, stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown and provide negotiators additional time to resolve differences over a longer-term appropriations bill and COVID-19 relief package.

The House passed the continuing resolution by a vote of 320-60. The Senate approved it by voice vote and President Trump signed it late Friday.

Outgoing House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., introduced the continuing resolution early Friday evening to keep the federal government running through Sunday in the hope that will be enough time for lawmakers to hammer out a final coronavirus relief bill.

The government is set to run out of money at midnight. A partial, low-impact shutdown would ensue if Congress failed to pass a stopgap spending bill before then.

“The American people urgently need coronavirus relief and this short stopgap bill will allow bipartisan, bicameral negotiators to complete their work on this important issue,” Lowey said.

“I look forward to swiftly passing omnibus appropriations and coronavirus relief legislation through the House as soon as possible,” she added.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said early in the day he was “even more optimistic now than I was last night” that an agreement would be reached Friday on an almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package, but the mood to compromise curdled after conservative Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., tried to insert a provision that would close down more than $400 billion in potential Federal Reserve lending powers established under a relief bill in March.

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.

Democrats contend the Toomey proposal would deprive President-elect Joe Biden of crucial tools to manage the economy.

The text of the legislation, H. J. Res. 107, is available here. Passage of the stopgap measure will force Congress into a rare weekend session as congressional leaders race to reach a deal before the holidays.

But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy R-Calif., told reporters that negotiators are closing in on an agreement. 

“I think we’re very close to getting an agreement. I think two more days, it allows the time to get it done and allow time for people to read,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the bicameral and bipartisan group of lawmakers who jump-started the relief package talks with their proposed $900 billion framework for negotiations, issued a joint statement Friday urging their colleagues to get the relief bill to across the finish line.

“Today we find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 310,000 Americans, and hours away from a government shutdown that threatens to delay urgent aid to people in need throughout the nation,” they said. “We must set our differences aside. The American people elected us to govern on their behalf, and at a time when they need us more than ever we must end the partisan games and meet this moment together for the good of the country. On Monday, our bipartisan, bicameral group presented a bill that helps provide for the emergency needs of the millions of families struggling to make ends meet. Once again, we encourage the leaders to finish what we started and deliver immediate assistance to the workers, families and businesses that need it most.”

In The News

Health

Voting

Congress

July 1, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Trump Advisor Bannon Seeks a Trial Delay on Contempt Charge

WASHINGTON — Former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon is asking a Washington, D.C., federal judge to delay his trial... Read More

WASHINGTON — Former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon is asking a Washington, D.C., federal judge to delay his trial for contempt of Congress after recent hearings of the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol created an "unprecedented level... Read More

July 1, 2022
by Dan McCue
House Majority Leader Unveils Updated Dome Directory App

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has long been an advocate for using technology to help Congress work... Read More

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has long been an advocate for using technology to help Congress work better and with more transparency for its members’ constituents. In 2015, for instance, it was Hoyer, with help from his staff, who released the Dome Watch... Read More

June 30, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Environmentalists Tell Congress Recycling Could Create a Market Opportunity

WASHINGTON — A congressional panel tried to move forward Thursday with a more aggressive effort to recycle the nation’s wastes... Read More

WASHINGTON — A congressional panel tried to move forward Thursday with a more aggressive effort to recycle the nation’s wastes on the same day the Supreme Court dealt the Biden administration’s environmental agenda a severe setback. A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee promoted legislation to eliminate... Read More

June 29, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Medicare Advantage Program Slammed for High Costs and Lack of Efficiency

WASHINGTON —A series of reports have revealed continued issues with Medicare Advantage Plans, a private-plan alternative to traditional Medicare, and... Read More

WASHINGTON —A series of reports have revealed continued issues with Medicare Advantage Plans, a private-plan alternative to traditional Medicare, and now members from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce are focused on how to establish better protections for America’s seniors.  “One of the promises of... Read More

June 29, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Congress Drops Waiver to Allow Free School Meals for All Students

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed the Keep Kids Fed Act into law on June 25 to support school meal... Read More

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed the Keep Kids Fed Act into law on June 25 to support school meal programs ahead of the expiration of pandemic-era waivers, but to expedite the bill’s passage before the expiration on June 30, Congress tossed a key provision to... Read More

June 28, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Former White House Staffer Says Trump Encouraged Jan. 6 Riot

WASHINGTON — The most condemning testimony yet among six House hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S.... Read More

WASHINGTON — The most condemning testimony yet among six House hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol came from a Trump White House staff member Tuesday. Cassidy Hutchinson, a former assistant to the president’s chief of staff, testified that President Donald Trump... Read More

News From The Well