With only four days left to avoid a government shutdown, Congress is wrapping up 2020 with three critical priorities hanging in the balance – government spending, defense policy and COVID relief.
Today the House is taking up the massive defense policy bill, which Trump has threatened to veto since it doesn’t include an unrelated repeal of legal protections for social media companies. But Democratic and Republican leaders of the armed services committees have vowed to override a presidential veto, which would be the first override of Trump’s presidency. Lawmakers feel so strongly they have said they will come back before or after the holidays if necessary to reject a veto.
Meanwhile, in recognition that Congress won’t be able to finish work on a spending deal to keep the government from shutting down before Friday, lawmakers are planning to extend the deadline by another week while negotiations over a larger deal continue.
Many lawmakers are still hoping to attach coronavirus relief to any spending package — but so far agreement remains elusive. Republicans are fighting for liability protections for businesses that reopen during the pandemic and Democrats want additional state and local funding.
For lawmakers to pass spending and COVID relief before the December 18th deadline, negotiations probably need to wrap by early next week.