Lawmakers in Washington are attempting to hammer out final details of a new coronavirus stimulus aid package. They must do so before midnight Sunday, when the federal government is currently set to shut down, unless Congress passes legislation attached to the stimulus bill that would keep it open.
Fortunately, leaders of both parties say they are close to a deal.
“It appears that, barring a major mishap, the Senate and House will be able to vote on final legislation as early as tonight,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Sunday afternoon.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed this optimism, saying Sunday, “I hope and expect to have a final agreement nailed down in a matter of hours.”
At stake is $900 billion in relief for individuals and businesses, which would also fund Covid-19 vaccination distribution, rent and utility assistance, and the extension of a federal eviction moratorium at a time when as many as 40 million Americans are facing housing instability and struggling to pay rent.
That package also includes one-time individual payments to Americans, likely in the amount of $600, after attempts by some lawmakers for slightly higher payments were blocked.
The final stimulus will be combined with this year’s omnibus government spending bill, worth $1.4 trillion, which would fund the US government through next September. Failure to pass this spending bill, or a temporary funding extension, by midnight on Sunday would leave the government without money to function, forcing it to shut down.
The spending bill has been postponed throughout last week, as stimulus talks continued to stall following months of failed negotiations, but congressional leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), have promised that a final bill is at last nearly ready for a vote.
Lawmakers had come into the weekend
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