The House of Representatives is expected to vote on Wednesday on a weeklong stopgap funding bill to avoid a government shutdown. The move indicates that lawmakers need more time to reach a deal on government funding, including on COVID-19 relief.
Current funding is set to expire this Friday. The vote would give negotiators until at least Dec. 18 to reach an agreement on funding.
COVID-19 ReliefNo deal has so far been reached on a second major COVID-19 relief package, with negotiations having played out for months.
“We have seen some hopeful signs of engagement from our Democratic colleagues. But we have no reason to think the underlying disagreements about policy are going to evaporate overnight,” McConnell told the Senate floor."The nation needs our Democratic colleagues to resist the temptation to play brinkmanship with long-settled policy issues or push poison pill riders that they know would tank the process," he also said.
Arguing for a “targeted” package, McConnell said lawmakers were now in agreement on three points—extending unemployment benefits, helping small businesses, and funding vaccines. He said that lawmakers should “make law in the many places where we have common ground” and drop other demands.McConnell has blamed Democrats for not having been able to pass more stimulus in recent months, pointing to a list of demands they wouldn't compromise that extended beyond addressing immediate needs during the pandemic.
“There is no actual reason why the fates of commonsense policies like a second round of the job-saving Paycheck Protection Program had to be linked to the fates of fringe proposals like stimulus checks for illegal immigrants," he said at the time. "There is no reason why the fate of funding for vaccine distribution or extending unemployment aid or legal certitude for universities should have been tied to radical ideas like paying people more not to work than essential workers earn on the job. These linkages have been totally arbitrary.”
Bipartisan BillOn Dec. 1, a bipartisan group of House members and senators released a proposal for a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package. The bill has the support of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans. This proposal does not include another round of direct payments to Americans.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said he wants to see a package with a stimulus check.
“I’m not sure why it’s controversial,” he added. “I’m a little baffled by it.”