If you noticed that the government is still open today, it’s because President Donald Trump signed a one-week stopgap funding bill Friday night, just ahead of when another shutdown could have occurred at midnight.
The scrambling Senate passed the short-term spending bill by a voice vote to buy time until Dec. 18, providing a week of funding for all federal operations but also giving lawmakers the chance to come to terms on COVID-19 relief and broader fiscal-year funding.
A rescue package could include a larger spending bill. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has been working to finesse a $908 billion stimulus plan that includes new unemployment aid, help for state and local governments, and limited liability protections for businesses, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants broader protections than it offers.
One of the Senate delays occurred as Republican Josh Hawley and Democrat Bernie Sanders pushed for Americans to receive another round of rebate checks. Sanders suggested $1,200 per adult and $500 per child.
“I am prepared to withdraw my objection for this moment, but I will not be prepared to withdraw my objection next week,” Sanders said on the floor, warning that “we’re not going to go home for the Christmas holidays” without adding direct cash payments to Americans to help in dealing with the coronavirus.
If all those white-haired men hang around for the holidays, it’s going to look like a collection of mall Santas who met because they are out of work.