Washington Post: Spending Bill Release Is Targeted for Tuesday: Congress Update

A proposed federal spending bill — to which a Covid-19 relief package could be added — is targeted for release as soon as Tuesday. A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Monday will release a two-part proposal with $908 billion in assistance for the pandemic-hit economy.

The legislative language of the relief package will be unveiled at a 4 p.m. press conference. The spending bill needs to be passed before federal funding runs out Dec. 18.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke by phone Sunday and plan to speak again Monday. The two have remained optimistic despite months of fruitless discussions.

Other Developments:

  • Lawmakers to Unveil $908 Billion Pandemic Relief Plan Monday
  • Congress Stalemate on Covid Liability Adds to Doubts on Relief
  • Senate Passes Stopgap Funding Bill to Avert Federal Shutdown

U.S. Spending Bill May Be Filed Tuesday (10:49 a.m.)

House lawmakers plan to file 12-part omnibus spending legislation as soon as Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the plan. These appropriations bills are needed to keep the government open after current funding runs out Dec. 18.

Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are both aiming to combine the omnibus funding measure and a coronavirus aid package into one bill.

Democrat Warns of Small Business Bankruptcies (7 a.m.)

Representative Dwight Evans, a Pennsylvania Democrat on the House Small Business Committee, said that a wave of bankruptcies could result next year if lawmakers don’t move forward with an emergency spending bill.

“There has to be a sense of urgency in the passage of this relief package,” Evans said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Monday. “Here in the city of Philadelphia you’re talking about in the range of 30% to 40% of businesses that will never maybe come back again. And the reality is those people are struggling, they are looking for lifelines,” especially in minority areas.

With regard to the differences that have held up a compromise, Evans said, “I don’t think anything is that difficult that we cannot fix it.”

Lawmakers to Unveil Two-Part Relief Plan (2 a.m.)

A bipartisan group of eight lawmakers plans to split up their $908 billion proposal and release two bills on Monday. One will include just liability protections and aid for state and local governments — the two most contentious issues between Republicans and Democrats. The other will include all the other provisions that have broad consensus, including aid for small businesses.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested that Congress move forward with a bill that doesn’t include liability protection for employers from virus-related lawsuits and $160 billion in aid for state and local governments.

“We’ll have a bill produced for the American people” on Monday, Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The group worked through the weekend to resolve the differences on these two provisions, which have stymied a deal for months. The next step for the legislation will be for Republican and Democratic leaders to finish negotiating the final package that could get a vote.

However, the part of the bill with liability protections may not have the support of all the Democrats in the bipartisan group, aides said. That raises doubts about the ability of the proposal to end the stimulus stalemate.

Also, it is unclear whether McConnell would put the legislation on the Senate floor for a vote. McConnell favors Mnuchin’s $916 billion relief proposal, which includes $600 in direct payments to individuals but doesn’t have the $300-per-week supplemental unemployment insurance included in the bipartisan bill.

Lawmakers of both parties have said that the best chance for passing a pandemic-relief bill this month would be to attach it to the 12-bill omnibus package Congress must pass by Friday to fund the government.