April 25, 2024

Hell week burdens Congress

Perhaps most urgent at a time when the United States records nearly 200,000 cases and 2,000 deaths from the Coronavirus daily – the country recorded 1 million new cases in the first five days of December – is some new response to the disease’s devastating health and economic impacts. Bipartisan negotiators worked throughout the weekend to finalize $ 908 billion in legislation based on their rough framework from last week, hoping to introduce a bill text early this week. Congress has not approved a major aid package since April.

“We have a lot of work to do.” Senate Whip Dick Durbin said on ABC’s This Week Sunday morning, “And just a few days to do it.” It’s really a miraculous effort on our part to get this together in time to help the American people as soon as possible.”

But there are questions about whether congressional leaders will accept this in light of disagreements over how much will spend, where it will be spent, and whether new legal protections will be offered to companies. Some sources were skeptical this weekend that an angry round of dealmaking would create a new law despite optimistic words from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Democrats say this bill is the starting point for negotiations, that McConnell has been non-binding and President Donald Trump has always been a question mark. Supporters of the two-party framework say their efforts are the only game in town.

President Trump has indicated that he will sign a deal worth $ 908 billion. Senator Bill Cassidy (R from Los Angeles) said on “Fox News Sunday” about the prospects for the bill with McConnell and Trump: There’s only one package worth $ 908 billion, and it’s ours. “The pain of the American people is the motivation behind this, and I am optimistic that both leaders will participate in this.”

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Senator Joe Mansheen (DW.Va.), who helped lead the negotiations, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “The deal has to be done. We have no choice now.” He said spending $ 908 billion now would have a more significant impact than waiting to do something bigger until President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.

However, disagreements remain over aid to local governments, a sine qua non for Democrats that divides Republicans, and a liability shield for companies that McConnell called his red line but something Democrats hate. Failure to strike a deal would derail Biden during his early days in office as health and economic disasters get worse in the absence of relief.

If Republicans and Democrats can reach an agreement, it will likely be included in the year-end spending bill. If the larger negotiations fail, it is also possible to include a few expired provisions in the spending package that must be crossed, such as extending unemployment funding and stopping the eviction. But transit agencies, airlines, unemployed Americans and cash-strapped states could be excluded from such a small ball agreement.

Even government funding has become a question mark. Congress now needs to pass a short-lived spending bill to give negotiators more time after Friday’s deadline, in part because it could take the Senate several days to pass a spending bill if any senator resists a fast pass.

The Senate is roughly aiming for a December 18 delay, and McConnell is still looking to confirm the two candidates this week. The sweeping negotiations that will fund the government through September are far from over and could collapse – and only produce an interim bill in the early days of Biden’s presidency.

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Even the fate of the hugely popular National Defense Authorization Act appears difficult. On Tuesday, the House plans to pass the final version of the NDAA, which Trump opposes because it does not repeal Article 230, or protections for technology companies, but rather rename the named rules for Confederate leaders. Some Republicans in support of Trump’s efforts in Article 230 argue that it simply cannot be included in the defense bill and ignore his demands to pervert it in defense legislation.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has it Predicted The Chamber has the votes to override the president’s veto, although such a scenario is not ideal for Republicans. Congress has not revoked any of the veto power Trump used during his presidency, but Cassidy said on Sunday that his “tendency will always be to vote for troops and vote for our national security.”

Indeed, Trump might lose this if he did not relent.

“I hesitate to speculate about a veto or any of that, but I think it will get a strong vote out of the Senate. Senate majority, Webb John Thun, said Thursday, ‘I hope this is something he can sign.’”