WASHINGTON — It’s a hurry up and wait moment on Capitol Hill for congressional negotiators on a must-pass, $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package struggle through a handful of remaining snags.
The holdups mean a weekend session appears virtually certain, and a top lawmaker warned that a government shutdown this weekend can’t be ruled out.
Government funding is set to expire on Friday at midnight, and lawmakers are seeking to tie the COVID-19 stimulus deal with a funding bill that will keep the government open until next September.
According to CNN, Republican leaders have floated a plan that would extend the funding deadline by 48 hours in the hopes of hammering out the final details of the stimulus deal. However, Democrats have indicated that they would like to strike a deal before the deadline — a negotiating ploy, as Republicans would need to strike a deal with their backs against the wall.
All sides appear hopeful the wrangling won’t derail the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said he plans to keep the Senate in Washington over the weekend in the hopes of striking a deal.
The central elements of the hard-fought aid compromise appear in place: more than $300 billion in aid to businesses; a $300-per-week bonus federal jobless benefit and renewal of soon-to-expire state benefits; $600 direct payments to individuals; vaccine distribution funds; and money for renters, schools, the Postal Service and people needing food aid.