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House Passes Bill to Avert Government Shutdown

Move buys more time for COVID relief talks
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 9, 2020 6:43 PM CST

(Newser) – Still spinning their wheels on COVID-19 relief, lawmakers grabbed a one-week government funding extension on Wednesday that buys time for more talks—though there is considerable disagreement over who is supposed to be taking the lead from there. Amid the uncertainty, the House easily passed a one-week government-wide funding bill that sets a new Dec. 18 deadline for Congress to wrap up both the COVID-19 relief measure and a $1.4 trillion catchall spending bill that is also overdue. The 343-67 vote sent the one-week bill to the Senate, where it's expected to easily pass before a deadline of midnight Friday to avert a partial government shutdown, the AP reports.

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The measure would give lawmakers more time to sort through the hot mess they have created for themselves after months of futile negotiations and posturing and recent rounds of flip-flopping. Top GOP leaders said the right people to handle endgame negotiations are the top four leaders of Congress and the Trump administration. Top Democrats, meanwhile, are placing their bets on a bipartisan group of senators who are trying to iron out a $908 billion package. The Trump administration is back in the middle of the negotiations, offering a $916 billion package on Tuesday that would send a $600 direct payment to most Americans but eliminate a $300-per-week employment benefit favored by the bipartisan group of Senate negotiators.

(Read more COVID relief bill stories.)

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