Congress is up against the clock. Unless it passes additional legislation, the federal government will run out of money on December 11 and a number of measures addressing the economic crisis will expire at the end of the month. The House will vote on Wednesday.
“I am disappointed that we have not yet reached agreement on government funding,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “The House will vote on Wednesday on a one-week CR to keep government open while negotiations continue.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday the Senate plans to pass a one week stopgap resolution to extend government funding to allow lawmakers more time to negotiate on a spending package and coronavirus relief.
In remarks on the Senate floor, McConnell called on Democratic leaders to come together with Republicans and “make law in the many places where we have common ground.”
“Republicans and Democrats do not need to resolve every one of our differences to get badly needed relief out the door,” he added.
Congress has long been gridlocked, even though a $600 boost to weekly unemployment benefits dried up and the Paycheck Protection Program had to stop accepting new applications from small businesses desperate for a loan.
But after the election, a bipartisan group of lawmakers came together, and worked through the past weekend, trying to close out outstanding issues from food stamp benefits to funding for cash-strapped state and local governments.
Some lawmakers have coalesced around a new plan, spending hundreds of billions of dollars to extend the pause on student loan payments, the prohibition on evictions and PPP funding, as well as provide $300 a week in enhanced federal unemployment benefits.
While negotiators could be closing in on some points of dispute — like how much money to give state and local governments — Democrats have not yet struck an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over liability protections for businesses, and some progressive members have already expressed opposition to any deal without new stimulus checks.
A Democratic aide told CNN that the bipartisan group of senators working on the coronavirus relief package will have another call Monday evening in an attempt to resolve differences on liability insurance, which remains the key sticking point in the negotiations.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a member of Senate GOP leadership, made clear that Republicans will only accept aid to state and local governments if Congress provides liability protections for a year.
“I think the Leader made clear that state and local money is tied to liability protection,” said Cornyn, referring to McConnell. “So there’s either going to be none of those or both of those are going to be provided. My hope is we will do both.”