Congressional leaders signaled they need a few extra days to finalize an agreement on a year-end COVID-19 relief package that they plan to tie to a year-end omnibus for fiscal year (FY) 2021 spending bills [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 11].
Leadership has indicated that the $1.4 trillion funding package for FY 2021 is nearly complete. At the time of this publication, it is unclear if lawmakers will allow the government to enter a temporary shutdown or pass another short-term continuing resolution (CR) to allow additional time to finalize negotiations on the separate COVID-19 package. The current CR expires on Friday, Dec. 18, at midnight.
Negotiations on a COVID-19 relief bill hastened in recent days, with congressional leaders remarking that they are close to striking an agreement. Leaders are still addressing several sticking points in the negotiations, including eligibility for stimulus checks, disaster relief funding, and the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending program. Though specific details on the content of the relief bill have not been released, negotiators remained optimistic through the week that they would be able to come to an agreement on a nearly $1 trillion bill.
Earlier in the week, a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators released text for a COVID-19 relief framework they had announced last week [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 11]. The updated proposal was split into two: A $748 billion proposal would include funds for the Provider Relief Fund, vaccine development and distribution, COVID-19 research, health workforce programs, and the extension of student loan payment suspension, while a $160 billion proposal would provide funds for state, local, and tribal assistance and establish liability protections.