WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) — The U.S. Congress on Friday passed a two-day stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown and provide lawmakers more time to negotiate a deal in COVID-19 relief and long-term government funding.
The House of Representatives passed the bill known as a continuing resolution by a vote of 320-60. The Senate also passed the measure by a voice vote to extend the government funding deadline from Friday to Sunday.
“Our baseline doesn’t incorporate a government shutdown, and the odds of one remain low,” Ryan Sweet, an economist with Moody’s Analytics, wrote Friday afternoon in an analysis.
“Still, our past work on the economic costs of a partial government shutdown showed it subtracts 0.1 percentage point each week from GDP (gross domestic product) growth,” Sweet wrote.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have recently said that they want to attach a long-awaited COVID-19 relief legislation to an omnibus funding bill, which will keep the government open while providing targeted relief to households and businesses.
“Our bipartisan discussions are continuing to make significant headway toward another relief package for the American people,” McConnell said earlier Friday on the Senate floor.
“In fact, I am even more optimistic now than I was last night that a bipartisan, bicameral framework for a major rescue package is close at hand,” he said.
Among the unresolved issues in the COVID-19 relief negotiations are a Republican push to shut down the Treasury Department’s and Federal Reserve’s credit lending facilities; the scope of the direct checks; and a Democratic effort to include funding for state and local emergencies to be administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to The Hill, a U.S. political website.
It is not clear whether Democratic and Republican lawmakers could reach a deal in COVID-19 relief and long-term government funding over the weekend.
Without a new relief package, many Americans will soon lose their unemployment benefits and begin to face hardships like eviction and foreclosure by the end of the year.