Shutdown policy set to collide with coronavirus aid

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There is a growing chance that any deal on a fifth coronavirus relief program will be tied to legislation to prevent government shutdown.After weeks of deadlocked talks, the timeline for the two fights has all but merged: the House is expected to leave until the end of the election by October 2, leaving lawmakers just a few weeks to strike a deal on a another coronavirus bill. And government agencies cannot function when the next fiscal year begins on October 1 without new funding from Congress.

Tying the two together would set up a high-stakes electoral battle, combining the threat of a shutdown with helping an estimated 30 million Americans out of work since the spread of the coronavirus that rocked the economy and killed more than 180,000 people in the United States.

And the deadline would be one month before an election both sides deem the most important in generations.

His. John KennedyJohn Neely Kennedy PLUS (R-La.) Supports the connection between the two issues, but warned that unnamed people want “chaos” because it would help them politically.

“If people want chaos, and I think there are some who do – I don’t attribute that view to anyone. I just think there are people who are motivated by chaos. They think it helps them politically. So there is nothing we can come together to make them happy, ”he said, asking if the inclusion of coronavirus aid made it harder to pass the fundraising bill.

Congress will likely need a Continuing Resolution (CR) to avoid a shutdown. Such a bill would maintain funding at current spending levels. The measure could serve as a vehicle to expand unemployment benefits and extend a small business loan program and a moratorium on evictions, all of which have expired due to congressional inaction.

Chief of Staff of the White House Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsMick Mulvaney To Launch Hedge Fund Sunday In Preview: Protests Continue Against Shooting Of Blake; Coronavirus Legislation Talks Stalemate Pelosi Denounces GOP, Says $ 0.3 Trillion In Coronavirus Relief Is Not Enough accused the Speaker of the House Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRubio Says Congressional Oversight of Intelligence Faces “Historic Crisis” After DNI Announcement Warner Calls Chief Intelligence Officer Decision to Cut Congressional Election Security Briefings “Outrageous” Pelosi , director of national intelligence for Schiff pan for canceling election security briefings MORE (D-Calif.) Hold a coronavirus deal to try and use the impending government funding deadline as leverage. Pelosi rejected the idea of ​​waiting until the end of September to advance COVID-19 legislation, warning that “people will die,” but did not explicitly rule out linking it to a fundraising bill.

Behind the scenes, House Democrats say there is little strategic advantage in combining the issues.

“I don’t think you want to introduce the idea of ​​a government shutdown into the COVID talks,” a House Democrat aide said. “To think this is a good idea, you have to think that adding more complicated issues to an already tense negotiation makes it easier to get a deal.”

A spokesperson for the parliamentary majority leader Steny HoyerMore than 50 former law enforcement professionals sign letter urging Congress to decriminalize marijuana The Hill’s Morning Report – Jill Biden urges country to hug her husband, Democrats urge management to vote 0 UI on Saturday MORE (D-Md.) Said he “believes these bills should be separated, and he believes swift action is needed both to fund the government and to provide COVID relief to American families.”

Both parties seem ready to blame the other if they miss the spending deadline.

“House Democrats have shown that we are committed to keeping government open by passing 10 of 12 annual supply bills, in stark contrast to Senate Republicans, who have not even started their supply process.” , said the representative. Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauro With Biden, advocates for sensible push to lift ban on abortion funding Coronavirus recession hits social security, health insurance, highway funding Lobbyists see wins, losses in the GOP bill on coronavirus PLUS (D-Conn.).

Meadows, who he asked if he thought Trump would be blamed for a shutdown, noted that there would be “all kinds of blame to be made.”

“The president doesn’t want to stop him. I don’t want to stop it, ”Meadows said during a Politico live event. “We know how these negotiations are going. … Everyone is looking for the lever, the next cliff.

The government’s failure to strike a deal on a new relief plan threatens to hamper any economic recovery, pressuring Congress to act. The vast majority of small businesses that have taken out special, forgivable loans say they have spent most of the money, and nearly half of them said they would ask for a second round cannot do so without a new legislation.

The additional $ 600 in weekly unemployment benefits that expired at the end of July left 27 million Americans with less money in their pockets. Trump’s executive order to funnel $ 300 in weekly Federal Emergency Management Agency benefits to the unemployed has stalled, with just five states sending benefits to limited beneficiaries, despite Department of Labor forecasts that the average state would deliver the benefits by the end of August.

The idea of ​​tying CR aid and coronavirus has been circulating around Capitol Hill, particularly among Republicans, for weeks.

The strategy, according to supporters, would allow them to achieve two goals at once: getting coronavirus help across the finish line after a entrenched deadlock and preventing an election year shutdown that would inject a new dose of chaos in an already unpredictable year.

The same Republican senators likely to vote against an RC are in the group of about 20 as the Senate majority leader. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSusan Collins Faces Battle Of A Lifetime In Maine McConnell Campaign Hires Covington Graduate Nicholas Sandmann Pelosi Slams GOP, Says 0.3 Trillion In Coronavirus Relief Not Enough MORE (R-Ky.) Believed would vote against any further relief from the coronavirus, leaving them to vote against a larger bill instead of highlighting GOP divisions in two separate votes.

A GOP lawmaker said it seemed like coronavirus relief and the government’s bill were on separate tracks at the moment. And some GOP senators, without ruling out the idea, have warned that the combination of the two issues could make the bill “unwieldy.”

But Republicans discussed it as they worked to finalize a second GOP-only coronavirus bill. The next package is expected to be around $ 500 billion – half of the original $ 1 trillion supply – and include funding for the postal service, more money for tests and schools, and an allocation of federal unemployment.

McConnell declined to say earlier this month whether he would support setting up coronavirus humanitarian aid on a CR, but said he was not worried about a shutdown.

“I still hope we get some sort of bipartisan deal here in the coming weeks,” McConnell told reporters.

But Meadows, known for his ability to blow up deals, appeared ready to bundle them together to neutralize the threat of a shutdown, which would be the third under the Trump administration.

“I think if we do a COVID deal right now, we should just do ongoing resolution as part of this solution in order to remove the table,” Meadows said.



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