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Congress votes on new Covid-19 stimulus deal

Pelosi blames GOP for delays on stimulus deal
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President Trump signs stopgap spending bill to keep government open until Dec. 28

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 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.

Senate has passed the Covid relief spending package 

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 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.

What happens next?

Dusk falls over the White House in Washington, DC on December 21.

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.”

What's in the Covid relief package?

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

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”

Deal reached in House after both parties relinquished key demands

The sun sets over the White House in Washington, DC on December 21.

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.

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.”

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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:

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 21: The US Capitol in the late afternoon before lawmakers vote to pass a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill on December 21, 2020 in Washington, DC.  After months of impasse, negotiations came down to the wire as 12 million people are set to lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas. (Photo by Cheriss May/Getty Images)

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

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

Dusk falls over the US Capitol on Monday.

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.

House Rules Committee advances relief bill

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.

McConnell: "What the country needs is exactly what we are going to pass later tonight"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor on Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will likely stay and vote tonight on the massive relief omnibus package.

Following the interview, he reiterated to reporters that “it will probably be late, but we’re gonna finish tonight.”

McConnell said if they work on another relief bill in early 2021, he’s going to “insist” liability protections are included. 

“If there is another coronavirus relief bill after the first of the year, I’m going to insist that liability protection for these universities and health care providers is a part of it,” he said.

Read the text of the new stimulus deal and funding bill

Congress just posted the text of its funding bill and bipartisan Covid-19 stimulus plan.

It’s 5,593 pages long, and if you’d like to read all of it, the full text is available here.

What comes next: The House Rules Committee will meet at 2:45 p.m. ET.

After the bill is processed by the House Rules Committee, it will move to the House floor before final action in the Senate. There will be no ability to amend the legislation, and lawmakers will be left to a take-it-or-leave-it proposition with the government on the brink of another shutdown at midnight.

Why the stimulus bill hasn't been filed, according to aides

Congressional leaders announced their stimulus deal yesterday. The House is planning to move first and is expected to vote later today on the pandemic relief deal, although exact timing remains unclear.

Earlier today, a senior Democratic aide told CNN that the bill text was expected to be filed between 10 a.m. and 11a. m.

But there are some technical difficulties uploading the bill and printing it, which is a reason for the holdup, aides tell CNN.

Rank-and-file senators frustrated at handling of the Covid-19 relief bill

US Sen. Josh Hawley, center, talks to reporters on Sunday after leaving the Senate floor.

Lawmakers will soon be asked to vote on one of the largest rescue packages in American history – $900 billion in relief – coupled with $1.4 trillion in federal spending, 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.”

The process will amount to this: The bill will soon be introduced, it will get processed by the House Rules Committee and then it will move to the House floor before final action in the Senate. There will be no ability to amend the legislation, and lawmakers will be left to 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:

Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, was frustrated at how the negotiators agreed to jobless benefits of $300 per week to 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.”

What each party gave up in the new Covid-19 stimulus deal

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.

Leaders announced the deal yesterday. The House is planning to move first and is expected to vote later Monday on the pandemic relief deal. Then it will be up to the Senate to take it up.

The deal came only after both parties relinquished some of their key demands along the way to make it happen. 

Faced with Republican opposition, Democrats were forced to abandon a push for roughly $160 billion in aid to cash-strapped states and cities, while Republicans dropped a demand for liability protections after Democrats signaled that was a red line.

Here's what's in the new Covid-19 stimulus deal

Over the weekend, top leaders finally reached a deal on a $900 billion stimulus package that provides much-needed aid for small businesses, schools and unemployed Americans.

Congress is expected to vote on the agreement later today, although exact timing remains unclear.

The full details of what will be in the relief package have yet to be released but here are the key provisions, according to a release Sunday evening from House and Senate Democratic leaders:

  • 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
  • $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
  • $10 billion to help with child care assistance
  • $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
  • Funding totaling in the billions of dollars to support coronavirus vaccine distribution, testing and contract tracing efforts and health care workers
  • A tax credit “to support employers offering paid sick leave”

It will take at least 2 weeks for money to hit peoples' bank accounts after stimulus bill passes, experts say

A second round of stimulus payments is included in a coronavirus relief package struck by congressional leaders late Sunday.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the deal later today. It would provide direct payment checks of up to $600 per adult and child, but experts say it will take at least two weeks for the Treasury to get cash into individuals’ bank accounts after legislation is signed.

“The timing could be more challenging this time, but the IRS could likely begin to get the money out in January,” said Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

Here’s what we know about how the payments will be distributed:

  • The payments do not go all out at once.
  • Those whose bank information is on file with the IRS will likely get the money first because it will be directly deposited into their account.
  • Others will receive paper checks or prepaid debit cards in the mail.

Pelosi on the Covid-19 stimulus deal: "It is a good bipartisan bill"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the new Covid-19 relief bill “a good bipartisan bill,” and described the differences between this one and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s previous proposals while speaking on the House floor moments ago.

“Millions of families are on the verge of eviction and this legislation addresses the rental needs and a short term moratorium,” she added. “We can accept the short term because we’ll have a new president during the length of that moratorium to extend it further when necessary.”

On direct payments, she said: “The President may insist on having his name on the check but make no mistake, those checks are from the American people.”

Restaurant advocacy groups say congressional relief plan "falls short"

A restaurant advocacy group says the congressional Covid-19 relief bill “falls short of protecting 11 million independent restaurant and bar workers,” while noting disproportionate impact on people of color and others. 

“Congress understands that dining restrictions, a surging pandemic, and winter weather are a perfect storm for a restaurant employment crisis that is disproportionately impacting single mothers, people of color, immigrants, the formerly incarcerated, and young people,” said the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), which calls itself a grassroots movement “to secure vital protections for the nation’s 500,000 independent restaurants.”

 “When we’ve been asked by the government to change the way we do business, our elected officials need to help us stay in business. It’s clear Congress wants to help us and we gave them a plan to do that. This legislation isn’t it,” the group added.

While the IRC noted that renewed funding for the Payroll Protection Program will help, it’s not enough, according to the group.