With less than two days remaining, lawmakers are now discussing the possibility of extending the shutdown deadline again to give more time to negotiate to close a deal and get it through the House and Senate. The two issues are linked as leaders want the aid deal to be tied to a $ 1.4 trillion finance bill to keep the government open until next September.
Unless things change quickly, final consideration of the massive measure could be postponed until the weekend or early next week.
Steny Hoyer, chairman of the majority in the House of Representatives, said on Wednesday he thinks an emergency funding bill to avert a shutdown known as a rolling resolution or CR may be necessary to buy time to close a deal.
“The answer to that is clearly yes … I don’t want to close the government,” he said. “If someone asked me, would you support a CR? What I won’t support is the government shutdown.”
There is consensus on Capitol Hill that after months of fighting and stalemate there will be an aid contract. But Congress is now in a waiting game as the top four Congressmen and the White House try to iron out the fine print and haggle over the final details.
Details of what is expected to be included in the plan were revealed on Wednesday, although nothing is final until the legislative text is released.
Once a deal is announced, the leaders of Congress need to adjust the grassroots and move as quickly as possible to get legislation on the ground in both chambers.
Part of what drives urgency: The Georgia Senate runoff in January will determine the next majority. In a phone call to his conference on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated several times that the issue of direct payments has become a major issue in the races.
“Kelly and David get hammered,” McConnell said of fellow GOP colleagues Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
Opposition from both sides
If both sides realize that something needs to happen, they will almost certainly get the votes it takes to get it approved. But they are being pushed back on both sides and the criticism has already begun.
Progressive lawmakers have raised concerns that the scope of stimulus checks will not be large enough.
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent Vermonter, warned in a keynote address Wednesday that the emerging deal would not be enough to address the devastating effects of the pandemic.
“There is a lot in this bill that is good, but given the huge crises we are facing, it just doesn’t go far enough,” said Sanders.
Earlier Wednesday, Sanders, who called for $ 1,200 checks, praised the nascent proposal to include stimulus checks, although it is expected to be lower than he was asked for, but said he will continue to charge more.
There will likely be GOP concerns about price too.
Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, said “likely” when asked if it was too much money.
“I’m probably against it,” said Ohio GOP MP Jim Jordan.
If lawmakers pass a stop gap bill to prevent the government from closing, it will be the second time in a short time.