Congress votes on new Covid-19 stimulus deal

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, James Griffiths and Julia Hollingsworth, CNN

Updated 2:50 AM ET, Tue December 22, 2020
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1:18 a.m. ET, December 22, 2020

President Trump signs stopgap spending bill to keep government open until Dec. 28

From CNN’s Daniel Allman and Manu Raju

US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he departs on the South Lawn of the White House, on December 12.
US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he departs on the South Lawn of the White House, on December 12. Al Drago/Getty Images

US President Donald Trump signed a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open until December 28.

Just after midnight, Trump signed the bill, H.R. 1520, known as the “Further Extension of Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021,” which provides fiscal year 2021 appropriations to “Federal agencies through Monday, December 28, 2020, for continuing projects and activities of the Federal Government,” a statement from the White House read.

This continuing resolution CR will keep the US government open until December 28. CNN’s Manu Raju said paperwork still needs to be completed on the massive relief bill, and has not been sent to the White House yet. That process will take a few days.

This post was updated to reflect that President Trump signed the stopgap spending bill.

12:05 a.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Senate has passed the Covid relief spending package 

From CNN's Ali Zaslav, Kristin Wilson and Ted Barrett

The US Capitol in the late afternoon before lawmakers voted to pass a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill on December 21, in Washington, DC.
The US Capitol in the late afternoon before lawmakers voted to pass a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill on December 21, in Washington, DC. Cheriss May/Getty Images

The Senate has passed a $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief/omnibus spending package, following the House’s passage earlier Monday evening. The legislation now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk for a signature. The final vote was 92-6.

The White House has said that Trump will sign the legislation. 

Congress also approved a continuing resolution to keep the government funded for an additional seven days to allow time for the legislation to be formalized and sent to the White House.

The six Republican senators who voted against the bill were Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rick Scott of Florida, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas.

This post has been updated to accurately reflect the final vote.

10:17 p.m. ET, December 21, 2020

What happens next?

From CNN's Clare Foran and Manu Raju

Dusk falls over the White House in Washington, DC on December 21.
Dusk falls over the White House in Washington, DC on December 21. Samuel Corum/AFP/Getty Images

With the House finished voting on the $900 billion Covid relief package, it's now the Senate's turn.

The Senate operates under a different set of procedural requirements and needs consent from all 100 members to schedule a quick vote. It's not yet clear if any member might object and slow down the process.

If an agreement for a quick vote isn't reached, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell will need to take additional procedural steps to tee up a vote, a process that could take several days.

As he left the Capitol Sunday evening, McConnell indicated that he hopes there will be consent to move the Covid relief package through the Senate quickly on Monday.

Asked if he has a sense of when senators will be voting on the deal Monday, McConnell said, "I've heard the House will send it over tomorrow afternoon, so you might want to check with them," adding, "You can do anything quickly by consent."
9:54 p.m. ET, December 21, 2020

What's in the Covid relief package?

From CNN's Clare Foran and Manu Raju

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate Floor at the US Capitol on December 21, in Washington, DC.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate Floor at the US Capitol on December 21, in Washington, DC. Cheriss May/Getty Images

Here are key provisions that will be included as part of the $900 billion agreement, according to releases sent out Sunday evening by members of Democratic and GOP leadership:

  • Direct payment checks of up to $600 per adult and child
  • Aid for struggling small businesses, including more than $284 billion for forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans and $15 billion "in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions"
  • $300 per week for enhanced unemployment insurance benefits
  • $20 billion to buy vaccines and make "the vaccine available at no charge for anyone who needs it" and $8 billion for vaccine distribution
  • $20 billion for coronavirus testing efforts
  • $25 billion for rental assistance and an eviction moratorium extension
  • $82 billion for education providers like schools and colleges, including aid to help reopen classrooms safely and $10 billion for child care assistance
  • The deal will rescind "$429 billion in unused funds provided by the CARES Act for the Federal Reserve's emergency lending facilities"
  • $13 billion in increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and child nutrition benefits
  • $7 billion to bolster broadband access to help Americans connect remotely during the pandemic
  • $45 billion to support transportation services, including $2 billion for airports, $1 billion for Amtrak and $16 billion for "another round of airline employee and contractor payroll support"
  • A tax credit "to support employers offering paid sick leave"
9:33 p.m. ET, December 21, 2020

Deal reached in House after both parties relinquished key demands

From CNN's Clare Foran and Manu Raju

The sun sets over the White House in Washington, DC on December 21.
The sun sets over the White House in Washington, DC on December 21. Samuel Corum/AFP/Getty Images

Faced with Republican opposition, Democrats were forced to abandon a push for roughly $160 billion in aid to cash-strapped states and cities as part of the eventually agreed upon $900 billion Covid relief package, while Republicans dropped a demand for liability protections after Democrats signaled that was a red line.

Democrats are already signaling that they want to see more relief passed in the next session of Congress after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

"I consider this a first step and again, more needs to be done," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a news conference Sunday evening.
"That will be happening under the Biden-Harris administration," she said.

Lawmakers are now being asked to vote on one of the largest rescue packages in American history with virtually no time to read and digest the details.

Senators in both parties aren't happy with the process where the top four congressional leaders cut a deal and let staff from relevant congressional committees iron out the legislative language with leadership aides.

"It's terrible," said Sen. Mike Braun, a Republican of Indiana. "You wouldn't have that kind of format in anything. It means we are putting all of that responsibility in a few."

There will be no ability to amend the legislation, and lawmakers will be left with a take-it-or-leave-it proposition with the government on the brink of another shutdown at midnight Monday.

"None of that is any good," Braun said.

Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, told CNN: "It's a mockery of legislation."

Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, was frustrated at how the negotiators agreed to jobless benefits of $300 per week for just 11 weeks -- when he and other senators from both parties agreed to a proposal that included 16 weeks of the enhanced benefits. He will have no ability to amend the legislation once the Senate considers it.

"It's awful," Manchin said. Asked who he blamed, Manchin said: "I blame all of us for allowing all of this to happen."

9:20 p.m. ET, December 21, 2020

House approves $900 billion Covid rescue package, sending it to the Senate

From CNN's Clare Foran and Manu Raju

Problem Solvers Caucus co-chairs Rep. Tom Reed, at podium, and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, right, speak to the media with members of their caucus about the expected passage of the emergency Covid-19 relief bill, on Monday at Capitol Hill in Washington.
Problem Solvers Caucus co-chairs Rep. Tom Reed, at podium, and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, right, speak to the media with members of their caucus about the expected passage of the emergency Covid-19 relief bill, on Monday at Capitol Hill in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

The House of Representatives on Monday passed a far-reaching $900 billion Covid relief package that promises to accelerate vaccine distribution and deliver much-needed aid to small businesses hit hard by the pandemic, Americans who have lost their jobs during the economic upheaval and health care workers on the front lines of the crisis.

The measure next goes to the Senate, where lawmakers are hoping to approve it later this evening as long as no lawmaker objects to a quick vote.

The rescue package is being paired with government spending legislation in a 5,593-page bill. It will include direct payments of up to $600 per adult, enhanced jobless benefits of $300 per week, roughly $284 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans, $25 billion in rental assistance, an extension of the eviction moratorium and $82 billion for schools and colleges.

Hill leaders announced Sunday evening that they had reached a deal after months of bitter partisan stalemate and days of contentious negotiations that created uncertainty over whether an agreement could be reached at all or if talks would collapse.

"We can finally report what our nation has needed to hear for a very long time: More help is on the way," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday night announcing the deal.
On Monday, McConnell told reporters, "We're going to stay here until we finish tonight," when asked about timing for the legislation to pass in the Senate.

The rescue package, which was negotiated on a bipartisan basis, is being combined with a massive $1.4 trillion government spending bill to fund federal agencies for the new fiscal year. Legislative text for the package was posted online just before 2 p.m. ET.

A quick vote in the Senate can be scheduled if all 100 senators agree, but if any member objects the process could drag out longer and the exact timing for final passage of the legislation by Congress is not yet clear. The White House has said, however, that President Donald Trump will sign the pandemic relief legislation once it is approved and reaches his desk.

8:56 p.m. ET, December 21, 2020

Congress poised to pass long-awaited $900 billion Covid rescue package

From CNN's Clare Foran and Manu Raju

The Washington monument is seen past flocks of birds from the North Lawn of the White House as the sun sets in Washington, DC on December 21.
The Washington monument is seen past flocks of birds from the North Lawn of the White House as the sun sets in Washington, DC on December 21. Samuel Corum/AFP/Getty Images

Congress is on the verge of passing a far-reaching $900 billion Covid relief package that promises to accelerate vaccine distribution and deliver much-needed aid to small businesses hit hard by the pandemic, Americans who have lost their jobs during the economic upheaval and health care workers on the front lines of the crisis.

The rescue package is being paired with government spending legislation in a 5,593-page bill. It will include direct payments of up to $600 per adult, enhanced jobless benefits of $300 per week, roughly $284 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans, $25 billion in rental assistance, an extension of the eviction moratorium and $82 billion for schools and colleges.

Hill leaders announced Sunday evening that they had reached a deal after months of bitter partisan stalemate and days of contentious negotiations that created uncertainty over whether an agreement could be reached at all or if talks would collapse.

"We can finally report what our nation has needed to hear for a very long time: More help is on the way," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday night announcing the deal.

On Monday, McConnell told reporters, "We're going to stay here until we finish tonight," when asked about timing for the legislation to pass in the Senate.

"We're going to pass another historic rescue package to help American families through this pandemic," the Kentucky Republican said in remarks from the Senate floor. "We're going to pass a full year of government funding ... and we're going to do both of these things as soon as possible."

The House and Senate are expected to pass the rescue package as soon as later Monday, which was negotiated on a bipartisan basis, along with a massive $1.4 trillion government spending bill to fund federal agencies for the new fiscal year. Legislative text for the package was posted online just before 2 p.m. ET.

The House is currently voting on the package. The chamber split up consideration of the measure into two votes and has already taken the first vote to approve a slate of funding measures. Lawmakers are now voting to approve the rest of the spending package, including funding for Covid relief.

The House is expected to vote late Monday on the pandemic relief deal. Then it will be up to the Senate to take it up.

Read the full story:

5:43 p.m. ET, December 21, 2020

Congress drops $500 million for states to bolster election security from final spending package

From CNN's Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb 

Dusk falls over the US Capitol on Monday.
Dusk falls over the US Capitol on Monday. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Congressional negotiators dropped $500 million for states to bolster their election security after opposition from Republicans during the closed-door talks over the massive spending package steaming through Congress, according to Democrats involved in the matter.

Democrats tried to include $500 million in election assistance grants to states to improve their election infrastructure.

But Senate Republicans objected to including the money -- and the provision was ultimately not included. The funding was included in a House-passed appropriations bill, but not the Senate’s version of the measure.

Republicans in the past have argued such money is duplicative, but Democrats contend that the money is critical to safeguard future elections -- and also note that it's President Donald Trump himself who has questioned the reliability of the election systems.

Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, a Democrat who chairs a key House appropriations subcommittee and has championed the money, raised concerns that the funding did not make into the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending package.

"It's an amazing disconnect," Quigley told CNN. "We want it because of foreign interference and to improve the efficiency and efficacy of the system."

Quigley added: "Their president is complaining about all this, but his party killed any chance ... to protect these systems going forward in the future as the equipment gets older and older."

Aides to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy did not respond to requests for comment.

4:07 p.m. ET, December 21, 2020

House Rules Committee advances relief bill

From CNN's Kristin Wilson

The House Rules Committee has moved the massive omnibus/coronavirus stimulus bill out of committee and to the floor, approving by a vote of 8-4, that will include one hour of floor debate.

The meeting moved along quickly in an effort to get the 5,593-page bill to the floor for votes.

"We are all that stands in the way of this bill coming to the floor and providing relief to the American people,” committee Chairman Jim McGovern said during their virtual meeting. “That's not meant to discourage anybody from saying what they want to say, but it kind of is."

What happens now: As CNN reported earlier, the House will vote first to approve the rule governing floor debate. That rule will also include a seven-day stopgap to keep the government open for another week. That will give Congress time to get the necessary paperwork over to the White House without risking a government shutdown. The Senate then would have to approve the seven-day stopgap.

Under the rules, the massive spending-relief package will be divided in two.

There will be one floor vote on funding for Commerce-Justice-Science, Financial Services, Defense and Homeland Security. Then there will be another floor vote to approve the rest of the spending package that will include funding for Covid-19 relief.

After the two bills are passed by the House, they will be tied together in one giant package and sent to the Senate for final passage.

Also, the House Rules Committee is going to set up the rule for floor debate on Dec. 28 vote to override a veto of the National Defense Authorization Act.

CNN's Manu Raju contributed to this report.