Will two days be enough time after more than six months of negotiating? President Trump is hoping this weekend is all that’s needed to wrap up negotiations over a $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package. The president signed a stopgap, two-day spending bill on Friday night to avert a partial government shutdown.
The House and Senate passed the stopgap bill on Friday, which allows government funding to be extended into Sunday. Party leaders on both sides appear to be optimistic that they are extremely close to passing the aid bill.
“I believe all sides feel we’re making good progress,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said after the Senate vote. “But alas, we are not there yet.”
An estimated 12 million people are expected to lose their unemployment insurance on the day after Christmas if Congress fails to extend provisions from the CARES Act, which was passed in March.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has not been impressed with the negotiations up to this point, saying no one really knows what to expect. “It’s beginning to reach a point of absurdity. It’s time for them to brief members on what they got. And I want to know what’s in this package and it better include direct assistance that’s a substantial amount, but at this point I have no earthly idea.” Hawley has been pushing for $1,200 stimulus checks to be sent to Americans as part of the package, but a compromise $600 check is expected to be included in the final bill.
Lawmakers are working to attach a full-year spending bill to the coronavirus relief package, which has fueled the extended negotiations. At this point the final details of the $900 billion COVID-19 Relief package appear to be the last hurdle.
The Senate is expected to meet on the legislation today, while the House has signaled that it will not hold any votes until Sunday afternoon at the earliest.