With a government shutdown looming, Congress will meet Wednesday to slap a bandage on the gushing wound.
Current government funding expires Friday. Without a long-term deal in place, the House will vote Wednesday for a one-week stopgap measure to extend the time for negotiators. The hope was that House members could wrap up government funding through the fiscal year, a bill for immediate coronavirus economic relief and an annual defense policy bill in time to adjourn for a two-week quarantine before family holiday time.
There has not been a major aid package since April and lawmakers are being asked to provide resources and extend the unemployment insurance and eviction moratoriums that have or will expire. Bipartisan negotiators worked this weekend on a $908 billion bill after the U.S. recorded 1 million new coronavirus cases in the first five days of December.
“President Trump has indicated that he will sign a $908 billion package; there’s only one $908 billion package out there and it’s ours,” Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The pain of the American people is driving this, and I’m optimistic both of those leaders (which leaders?) will come on board.”
Because a bill to avoid a government shutdown Friday has not reached the floor, Congress might be headed for a resolution that kicks the can down the road.
During Trump’s presidency, there have been three federal government shutdowns, including the longest in modern U.S. history (35 days) in December 2018 through January 2019. About 800,000 federal government works went on furlough or without pay.
Another shutdown could worsen other issues that Congress is trying to address, including handling of the coronavirus and the economy. Just when 2020 could not get worse, there’s still time and opportunity for something bleaker.