Stopgap Funding To Keep Government Open Until Dec. 11; House Democrats Pass Revised COVID-19 Stimulus Bill as Pandemic Relief Negotiations Continue
A stopgap measure to fund the government until Dec. 11 at current spending levels passed the Senate Wednesday and was signed by President Trump early Thursday morning, narrowly avoiding an Oct. 1 government shutdown before the election. (Reuters, Sept. 30 and Bloomberg, Oct. 1)
- The “Continuing Resolution,” which passed the House last week, includes short-term funding extensions (with no policy changes) for surface transportation funding, the National Flood Insurance Program, and the EB-5 Regional Center Program. (Rountable Weekly, Sept. 25, Text of H.R. 8337 and Section-by-section summary of the legislation)
- As the government operations funding bill advanced this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) met face-to-face with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about an additional COVID-19 relief package for the first time since August.
- Disagreements between Democrats and Republicans continued over the cost of a relief package, leading House Democrats Thursday night to pass a largely symbolic $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill by a narrow 214-207 vote. Eighteen Democrats voted against the measure, which is a scaled-down version of the $3 trillion HEROES Act passed by the House in May. The Senate is unlikely to consider the package. (Forbes and NBC News, Oct. 1)
- President Trump’s positive test for the coronavirus today adds great uncertainty to the political landscape and “changes the dynamic” of the pandemic relief talks, according to Pelosi. “We always have to find a path, that is our responsibility to do so, and I believe that we will,” she said. (Washington Post, Oct 2)
- The White House has seemed willing to engage House Democrats in hopes of a deal, yet attracting enough support from Senate Republicans to pass another relief package over $1 trillion is a significant challenge.
- Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) yesterday said, "There's a real revulsion among Republicans to going above $1 trillion and even $1trillion is real difficult." (CNN, Sept. 30)
- Another issue in the negotiations remains Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) insistence on a liability shield for businesses that are concerned about unlimited COVID-related lawsuits after reopening. McConnell said yesterday, “I'd like to see another rescue package. We've been trying for months to get there. I wish them well." (AP, Oct. 1)
House lawmakers will depart Washington today until after the election – unless they are summoned back to vote on a COVID-19 legislative package deal. The Senate is scheduled to remain in session next week as confirmation hearings begin Oct. 12 for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the President's nominee for the US Supreme Court.
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