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Monday, March 1, 2021

U.S. Congress seeks lifeline before funds run out

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U.S. Congress seeks lifeline before funds run out
U.S. Congress seeks lifeline before funds run out

[NFA] The U.S. Congress will vote this week on a one-week stopgap funding bill to provide time for lawmakers to reach a deal in talks aimed at delivering COVID-19 relief and an overarching spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

Gavino Garay reports.

The U.S. Congress will vote on a stopgap measure that would effectively buy lawmakers one week's time to negotiate a COVID relief deal and a massive overarching spending bill before federal funding runs out this Friday.

The so-called 'continuing-resolution', or CR bill, would avoid a government shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that the Senate would likely adopt an extension.

MCCONNELL: "I anticipate that the Senate will take up a one-week extension this week so the government does not close on December the 11th, and work can continue into next week." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and McConnell hope to attach long-awaited COVID relief to the broad $1.4 trillion spending bill but, so far, Democratic and Republican leadership have been at odds over the allocation of funding and the exact amount.

Democrats made a huge concession last week when they agreed to use a bipartisan bill proposal for $908 billion as a starting point for negotiations, even though they were pushing for $3.4 trillion just this past August.

A bipartisan effort to deliver an infusion of COVID-19 relief to families and businesses is hung up over provisions to help state and local governments, which Democrats want, and protecting businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits, a top Republican priority.

Democrats and Republicans accuse each other of 'partisan politics' on those matters.

With the budget deadline fast approaching, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer urged McConnell to sit down and talk.

SCHUMER: "Senate Democrats are simply asking the Republican leader to sit down and do one thing.

Sit down and negotiate." There was an upbeat note, however, from the Trump administration.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow in an interview with the Washington Post said the Trump administration and Congress were "getting closer" to an agreement.

Lawmakers enacted $3 trillion in aid earlier this year but have not been able to agree on fresh relief since April even as coronavirus cases and fatalities surge.

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