clearn.png
Friday January 15th, 2021 10:18PM

House passes bill to avert government shutdown; Trump next

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress swiftly passed a two-day stopgap spending bill Friday night to avert a partial government shutdown, trying to buy time for frustratingly slow endgame negotiations on an almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said early in the day he was “even more optimistic now than I was last night,” but Democrats launched a concerted campaign to block an effort by Republicans to rein in emergency Federal Reserve lending powers. They said the GOP proposal would deprive President-elect Joe Biden of crucial tools to manage the economy.

Believing a deal could be reached Friday “would be a triumph of hope over experience,” said a downbeat No. 2 Senate Republican, John Thune of South Dakota.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House passed a two-day stopgap spending bill Friday night to avert a partial government shutdown, trying to buy time for frustratingly slow endgame negotiations on an almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package. Senate action wasn't guaranteed but appeared likely before the midnight deadline.

The House passed the temporary funding bill by a 320-60 vote as frustrated lawmakers headed for a weekend session.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said early in the day he was “even more optimistic now than I was last night," but Democrats launched a concerted campaign to block an effort by Republicans to rein in emergency Federal Reserve lending powers. They said the GOP proposal would deprive President-elect Joe Biden of crucial tools to manage the economy.

Believing a deal could be reached Friday "would be a triumph of hope over experience," said a downbeat No. 2 Senate Republican, John Thune of South Dakota.

Funding for the government was to lapse at midnight, and a partial, low-impact shutdown would ensue if Congress failed to pass the stopgap spending bill. All essential federal workers would remain on the job, and most government offices would be closed on the weekend anyway.

The two-day stopgap bill could be stopped by a single senator voicing an objection, but the most likely Republican to do so, Josh Hawley of Missouri, announced he would not block the measure after receiving assurances that direct payments for individuals were included in the broader measure.

Democrats came out swinging at a key obstacle: a provision by conservative Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that would close down more than $400 billion in potential Federal Reserve lending powers established under a relief bill in March. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is shutting down the programs at the end of December, but Toomey's language goes further, by barring the Fed from restarting the lending next year, and Democrats say the provision would tie Biden's hands and put the economy at risk.

“As we navigate through an unprecedented economic crisis, it is in the interests of the American people to maintain the Fed’s ability to respond quickly and forcefully," said Biden economic adviser Brian Deese. “Undermining that authority could mean less lending to Main Street businesses, higher unemployment and greater economic pain across the nation."

The key Fed programs at issue provided loans to small and mid-sized businesses and bought state and local government bonds, making it easier for those governments to borrow, at a time when their finances are under pressure from the pandemic.

The Fed would need the support of the Treasury Department to restart the programs, which Biden’s Treasury secretary nominee, Janet Yellen, a former Fed chair, would likely provide. Treasury could also provide funds to backstop those programs without congressional approval and could ease the lending requirements. That could encourage more lending under the programs, which have seen only limited use so far.

The battle obscured progress on other elements of the hoped-for agreement After being bogged down for much of Thursday, negotiators turned more optimistic, though the complexity of finalizing the remaining issues and drafting agreements in precise legislative form was proving daunting.

The central elements appeared 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.

Lawmakers were told to expect to be in session and voting this weekend.

The delays weren't unusual for legislation of this size and importance, but lawmakers are eager to leave Washington for the holidays and are getting antsy.

The pending bill is the first significant legislative response to the pandemic since the landmark CARES Act passed virtually unanimously in March, delivering $1.8 trillion in aid, more generous $600 per week bonus jobless benefits and $1,200 direct payments to individuals.

The CARES legislation passed at a moment of great uncertainty and unprecedented shutdowns aimed at stopping the coronavirus, but after that, many Republicans focused more on loosening social and economic restrictions as the key to recovery instead of more taxpayer-funded aid.

Now, Republicans are motivated chiefly to extend business subsidies and some jobless benefits, and provide money for schools and vaccines. Democrats have focused on bigger economic stimulus measures and more help for those struggling economically during the pandemic. The urgency was underscored Thursday by the weekly unemployment numbers, which revealed that 885,000 people applied for jobless benefits last week, the highest weekly total since September.

The emerging package falls well short of the $2 trillion-plus Democrats were demanding this fall before the election, but B iden is eager for an aid package to prop up the economy and help the jobless and poor. While he says more economic stimulus will be needed early next year, some Republicans say the current package may be the last.

“If we address the critical needs right now, and things improve next year as the vaccine gets out there and the economy starts to pick up again, you know, there may be less of a need," said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota.

Most economists, however, strongly support additional economic stimulus as necessary to keep businesses and households afloat through what is widely anticipated to be a tough winter. Many forecast the economy could shrink in the first three months of 2021 without more help. Standard & Poor’s said in a report Tuesday that the economy would be 1.5 percentage points smaller in 2021 without more aid.

The details were still being worked out, but the measure includes a second round of “paycheck protection" payments to especially hard-hit businesses, $25 billion to help struggling renters with their payments, $45 billion for airlines and transit systems, a temporary 15% or so increase in food stamp benefits, additional farm subsidies, and a $10 billion bailout for the Postal Service.

The emerging package would combine the $900 billion in COVID-19 relief with a $1.4 trillion government-wide funding bill. Then there are numerous unrelated add-ons that are catching a ride, known as “ash and trash" in appropriations panel shorthand.

A key breakthrough occurred earlier this week when Democrats agreed to drop their much-sought $160 billion state and local government aid package in exchange for McConnell abandoning a key priority of his own — a liability shield for businesses and other institutions like universities fearing COVID-19 lawsuits.

__

AP Economics Writer Christopher Rugaber contributed.

  • Associated Categories: Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Kyrie Irving cleanses court in return to Boston
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving appeared to perform a spiritual ritual on the new Boston Garden court before he played in the arena for the first time since leaving the Celtics
8:48PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Congress averts shutdown; fight continues over pandemic aid
Congress has passed a two-day stopgap spending bill to avert a partial government shutdown this weekend
8:41PM ( 43 minutes ago )
Illegal winery busted at Alabama town's sewage plant
An Alabama sheriff's office says it's busted an illegal winery that was operating at a city's sewage plant
8:37PM ( 47 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Pence, top congressional leaders get vaccines; Trump absent
Vice President Mike Pence and the leaders of the House and Senate received their first COVID-19 vaccinations as they tried to reassure Americans the shot is safe
8:06PM ( 1 hour ago )
US clears Moderna vaccine for COVID-19, 2nd shot in arsenal
The U.S. is adding a second COVID-19 vaccine to its arsenal
8:03PM ( 1 hour ago )
Hacked networks will need to be burned 'down to the ground'
Experts say it’s going to take months to kick elite hackers widely believed to be Russian out of U.S. government networks
7:39PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Biden may time confirmation votes to protect House majority
President-elect Joe Biden’s decision to tap several House Democrats for administrative positions is putting Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a politically tough spot
5:24PM ( 4 hours ago )
US awaits word on 2nd vaccine as COVID-19 outbreak worsens
The U.S. stands on the verge of adding a second vaccine to its arsenal as the coronavirus outbreak passes through its most lethal phase yet
4:27PM ( 4 hours ago )
Shutdown deadline looms over COVID-19 relief talks
Top negotiators on a must-pass, almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package are committed to sealing an agreement in hopes of passing the legislation this weekend
4:08PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
US says it is shuttering last 2 consulates in Russia
The Trump administration has notified Congress that it intends to shutter the last two remaining U.S. consulates in Russia
7:24PM ( 2 hours ago )
'Obamacare' enrollment rising as COVID-19 pandemic deepens
Government figures out Friday show sign-ups for “Obamacare” health insurance plans are trending more than 6% higher amid surging coronavirus cases and deepening economic misery
6:59PM ( 2 hours ago )
Pro-Trump shakeups continue at VOA's parent agency
The head of U.S.-funded international broadcasting is pressing ahead with his shakeup of the Voice of America and sister outlets by naming new leaders for two of its main networks
5:41PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Pelosi, McConnell get COVID-19 vaccine, urge others to do so
The legislative branch of government is rapidly moving to receive the coronavirus vaccine, with both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell getting the shot on Friday
2:20PM ( 7 hours ago )
The Latest: Pentagon OKs top civilians, military for shots
The Pentagon has authorized nearly 50 top civilian and military leaders to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks to prove to the shots are safe and effective
1:51PM ( 7 hours ago )
Pelosi receives COVID-19 vaccine as it rolls out in Congress
The legislative branch of government is rapidly moving to receive the coronavirus vaccine, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi getting the shot on Friday and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he will “in the coming days.”
1:22PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
The Latest: Michigan OKs in-person classes for high schools
Michigan has lifted a ban on in-person instruction at high schools and says movie theaters and other entertainment venues can reopen with capacity restrictions following a decline in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations
7:17PM ( 2 hours ago )
Kobe Bryant's widow slams lawsuit from mom seeking support
Kobe Bryant’s widow has denounced a lawsuit from her mother claiming she is owed years of pay for working as an unpaid assistant and support promised by the basketball legend, who was killed in a helicopter crash in January
3:57PM ( 5 hours ago )
Indians manager Francona says team's name change "correct"
Manager Terry Francona praised the Cleveland Indians for trying to “do the right thing” by changing their name
3:34PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business
The Latest: Macron: 'Doing well' after positive virus test
French President Emmanuel Macron is blaming his positive coronavirus test on negligence and bad luck
12:48PM ( 8 hours ago )
Stocks hold close to records as wait continues for Congress
U.S. stock indexes are holding close to their record levels Friday, as a week marked by tentative optimism for the economy’s prospects comes to a close
9:55AM ( 11 hours ago )
Stocks waver in early trading as investors wait on Congress
Stocks are wobbling between small gains and losses in early trading on Wall Street as investors try to hold on to optimism that Congress will finally deliver on a long-awaited aid package for the economy
9:42AM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
The Latest: VP Pence gets vaccine during White House event
Vice President Mike Pence is getting vaccinated for the coronavirus during a White House event aimed at convincing skeptical Americans the vaccines are safe
9:45AM ( 11 hours ago )
The Latest: Azar: Moderna vaccines ship if FDA gives OK
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says shipments of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine will begin this weekend if the FDA grants emergency use authorization as expected on Friday
8:27AM ( 13 hours ago )
Pence, wife Karen, get COVID-19 vaccine injections
Vice President Mike Pence has received the coronavirus vaccine during a White House event aimed at convincing skeptical Americans that the vaccines are safe
8:14AM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
World shares climb on hopes US finally to get more stimulus
World shares have advanced on hopes the U.S. Congress may finally deliver fresh aid to help businesses and families weather the pandemic
4:21AM ( 1 day ago )
Fed keeps rate near zero and sees brighter economy in 2021
The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that it will keep buying government bonds until the economy makes “substantial” progress — a step intended to reassure financial markets and keep long-term borrowing rates lower for longer
5:57PM ( 2 days ago )
Fed keeps rate near zero but sees brighter economy in 2021
The Federal Reserve will keep buying government bonds until the economy makes “substantial” progress, a step intended to reassure financial markets and keep long-term borrowing rates low
3:22PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Financial Services
US clears Moderna vaccine for COVID-19, 2nd shot in arsenal
The U.S. is adding a second COVID-19 vaccine to its arsenal
9:10PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Kyrie Irving cleanses court in return to Boston
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving appeared to perform a spiritual ritual on the new Boston Garden court before he played in the arena for the first time since leaving the Celtics
8:48PM ( 41 minutes ago )
Congress averts shutdown; fight continues over pandemic aid
Congress has passed a two-day stopgap spending bill to avert a partial government shutdown this weekend
8:41PM ( 47 minutes ago )
Illegal winery busted at Alabama town's sewage plant
An Alabama sheriff's office says it's busted an illegal winery that was operating at a city's sewage plant
8:37PM ( 52 minutes ago )
Freed Nigerian schoolboys welcomed; calls for more security
More than 300 schoolboys kidnapped last week in an attack on their school in northwest Nigeria have arrived in the capital of Katsina state to celebrate their release
8:28PM ( 1 hour ago )