Parties Inch Towards Progress As Clock Ticks

Reports indicate a deal to fund the government has been reached, but the next 24 hours will determine whether a COVID relief package rides along. 

Legislative language for an appropriations package to fund the government for the next year could be released as soon as today and could be ready to be voted on in the House as soon as Wednesday.

Despite the desire to complete all legislative action by the end of this week, the status of the COVID relief package is murkier. A group of bipartisan Senate moderates released two bills yesterday:

  • $748 billion COVID relief with a $300 per week pandemic unemployment insurance boost for 16 weeks. The bill excludes more stimulus checks, state and local government funding and liability protections for businesses, all of which have previously been partisan sticking points.
  • $160 billion for state and local governments plus COVID liability protections for businesses.

However, neither the administration nor Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have publicly expressed support for the bipartisan bill. The administration is reportedly pressing to replace the $300 per week unemployment insurance boost in the bipartisan proposal with another round of stimulus checks.

Some Democrats have signaled they might be willing to support a proposal that would drop additional state and local funding – one of their top priorities –  and liability protections to reach a final agreement. But they will have a harder time giving up on bonus unemployment checks

One solution to break the current legislative logjam is to add another round of rebate checks to the bipartisan proposal without subtracting another Democratic priority. This could be done while still keeping the total price tag under $1 trillion.  But whether this proposal gains traction remains to be seen and should be known soon given the weekend deadline.