The Senate approved a short-term spending bill, averting a government shutdown hours ahead of a midnight deadline


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • The Senate passed a one-week extension of government funding on Friday, hours ahead of a midnight deadline.

  • The House passed it on Wednesday, and now it goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.

  • Sens. Bernie Sanders and Josh Hawley threatened to hold up the government-funding bill next week if there is no vote on their plan to distribute a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks to Americans.

  • Congress is running up against the expiration at the end of the month of federal rescue programs assisting millions of Americans.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Senate passed a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown hours before a midnight deadline on Friday, sending it to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.

The bill was delayed on Thursday because Republican Sen. Rand Paul objected to a measure related to defense spending in a separate piece of legislation. Senate rules allow a single senator to disturb the timing of a vote via “unanimous consent.”

The House approved the one-week extension of government funding on Wednesday. If Trump signs it – which he is expected to do – it would buy Congress another week to pass a new economic rescue package as coronavirus cases climb and the death toll rises.

Negotiations are ongoing on a broader omnibus package to fund the government into next year, The Washington Post reported. Congressional leaders have said they want to attach a relief package to the large spending package.

But bipartisan talks are at risk of collapsing over fierce disagreements on aid to state and local governments and on a liability shield to protect businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested on Thursday that the talks on a $908 billion economic aid package could stretch past Christmas.

Democrats want to provide federal assistance to states, while Republicans are seeking the liability shield. Disagreements on the issues have gummed up the talks for months.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday assailed Democrats for seeking the aid, calling it a “slush fund” that would provide money for spending unrelated to the pandemic.

On Thursday evening, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri teamed up to call for another round of $1,200 stimulus payments, which are omitted in the $908 billion package’s framework.

They gave back-to-back floor speeches ahead of the government-funding vote on Friday. Sanders and Hawley threatened to hold up a similar extension next week if Congress does not vote on providing a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks for Americans.

The pair have emerged as the leading advocates for another round of stimulus checks. Asked by Business Insider whether he had generated more Democratic support for them over the past week, Sanders responded, “I think there is momentum on the part of the American people who understand that Congress simply cannot leave without dealing with the economic crises facing” Americans.

If the relief talks in Congress drag on or collapse, it could raise the specter of a financial disaster for millions of people as several federal programs expire at the end of the year. Nearly 12 million Americans are threatened with the loss of all unemployment aid if lawmakers fail to renew certain programs.

Read the original article on Business Insider



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