Politics

Congress returns forward of the federal government shutdown deadline and requires momentum amid the surge in coronavirus

The U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, November 11, 2020.

Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Congress returns to Washington this week with two sensitive issues that must be resolved before the end of the year.

Legislators must pass a spending bill by December 11th to prevent government shutdown. In the meantime, they must decide whether to approve another coronavirus relief bill as rampant infections weigh on hospitals and accelerate US economic recovery.

The challenges will test the governance of a divided Capitol after months of stagnation, fueled in part by controversial elections in 2020. The ability of Congress to pass legislation this month will affect the power of the federal government and the private sector to lessen the damage caused by the pandemic in the coming months.

The GOP-controlled Senate will meet on Monday afternoon after its Thanksgiving break. The democratically held house will meet again on Wednesday.

According to NBC News, the appropriators have agreed on a total of $ 1.4 trillion for an expense account. You still have to decide where you want all the money to go.

Both Republican and Democratic leaders want to pass laws to keep the government running until the end of fiscal year, September 2021. Failure to reach an agreement in a timely manner may mean passing a short-term bill with spending at current levels.

In the meantime, Congress must decide whether and how to address overlapping health and economic crises exacerbated by a recent wave of Covid-19 infections across the country. Twenty-one states had records of hospitalizations with coronavirus as of Sunday, and more state and local officials have tightened restrictions to slow the spread.

An expansion of unemployment benefits, a moratorium on federal student loan payments and some protection against eviction will expire at the end of the year. Millions of Americans are struggling to get the money back

Republicans and Democrats have disagreed for months on what steps Congress must take to tackle the virus and the economic damage it is causing. Democratic Congress leaders and President-elect Joe Biden have been pushing for Congress to pass a bill that will cost at least $ 2.2 trillion this year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he plans to send more aid in the coming weeks – but intends to add about $ 500 billion in new spending.

The sides have not had formal talks on a stimulus package since the 2020 elections on November 3. Despite a lack of progress, House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly stated that she thinks Congress can work out an auxiliary law that can be passed by either house.

"I am optimistic that we will be non-partisan to put something together to move forward because I believe that many of our colleagues understand what is happening in their districts and want to make a difference," she said on November 20 prior Breaking Thanksgiving Day to reporters.

On the same day, McConnell urged lawmakers to take "urgent and targeted action," such as a second round of small business paycheck protection loans and funding for vaccine distribution.

While some members of McConnell's caucus have refused to spend more money on relief efforts, others have pressed for help during the virus deluge. Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican who returned to Washington this week after a positive Covid-19 test and quarantine period, on Monday urged his colleagues to "pass long overdue relief laws."

The House Democrats passed a $ 2.2 trillion incentive in October. Among other things, it would have reintroduced the $ 600-per-week state unemployment insurance that expired earlier this year, sent a second direct payment of $ 1,200 to most Americans, set up a second round of PPP loans, and more than $ 400 billion in state and local agencies approved aid.

A $ 500 billion Senate GOP bill blocked by Democrats in October included a $ 300 weekly unemployment benefit improvement, more PPP funding, and corporate liability protection. It would not have made money available for economic controls or state and local aid.

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