House Passes One-Day CR, Buying Time to Finalize COVID Relief and Funding Combo Bill

After months of wrangling over details of a COVID relief deal, and after delaying passage of federal government funding for FY21, tonight both chambers of Congress agreed on this much: they need more time to finalize the language of the agreed-upon terms for both must-pass deals. 

Lawmakers on both sides announced bipartisan agreement on the terms of a COVID package, but the $900 billion bill was still being drafted as of the time of this writing. The current authorization for federal government funding runs out at midnight tonight, after being extended twice earlier this month, first on December 11 and again on December 18. Without passage of an appropriations bill or continuing resolution (CR), the federal government will shut down at midnight.

The COVID relief package is expected to be combined with the federal government appropriations omnibus bill to fund the government until September 30, 2021. To allow additional time for final drafting and review of this mammoth legislative package, tonight, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a one-day CR by a vote of 329-65. The CR will fund the federal government through midnight tomorrow, Monday, December 21.

The CR must be passed by both houses and signed by the president by midnight tonight to avoid a federal government shutdown; the Senate is expected to pass the one-day CR shortly.

PIA Provisions Expected to Be Included in Coronavirus Package

For months, Congress has struggled to finalize a coronavirus relief package. What we anticipate being passed tomorrow is likely to include a $300 increase in weekly unemployment benefits, $600 direct payments for individuals, more than $300 billion for small business aid, and funding for schools, hospitals, and vaccine distribution. A business liability protection measure, supported by Republicans, and aid for state and local governments, supported by Democrats, had taken center stage during clashes between the parties during previous negotiations over a COVID relief package. Both issues were ultimately stripped from the measure to allow the package to move forward.

We expect the final text of the COVID relief package to include several PIA priorities, including a second draw for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, the elimination of a surprise tax on PPP loan recipients, and a streamlined loan forgiveness process for some PPP borrowers.

Next Steps

PIA is urging both houses of Congress to pass the omnibus federal funding bill and COVID relief package as soon as possible and for the president to sign the legislation into law.