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Public Policy Newsletter Article

The House has passed a revised HEROES Act but funding for state and local governments continues to be a point of contention.

Congress Passes Bill to Fund Government, Stumbles over COVID Relief

  • 2020-10-01T19:00:00.000+0000
  • Washington DC
  • Author: Laure Fabrega

On October 1, President Trump signed into law HR8337, the continuing resolution (CR) that extends funding for federal agencies past September 30, therefore avoiding a government shutdown before the elections. The House passed the bill on September 22 by a 359-57 vote and the Senate followed on September 30 by an 84-10 vote.

The bill continues the current funding levels for federal agencies until December 11. It includes compromised language between Republicans and Democrats to fund farm payments and food lunches, respectively. The rare pediatric priority review voucher program, which would have expired on September 30, has been extended until December 11. The House and the Senate will still have to pass appropriation bills or an omnibus measure during the lame-duck session to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. The House has passed 10 out of 12 appropriation bills. The Senate hasn’t started work on appropriation bills.

Regarding a new COVID relief package, the House passed a revised HEROES Act on October 1 as negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on a bipartisan deal that could gain support from both parties stalled. House Republicans opposed the measure. A key point of disagreement is funding for state and local governments ($436 billion in the current bill). President Trump has indicated he could agree to up to $1.5 trillion. Senate Republicans first proposed a $1 trillion measure, which they didn’t vote on, followed by a smaller measure, which didn’t get cloture votes. It remains to be seen whether a deal can be reached before the elections.

The House bill would cost $2.2 trillion (from $3.4 trillion in the original version that the House passed in May). It would provide another round of $1,200 direct relief payments to individuals, $500 per dependent, $600 per week in extra unemployment benefits through January, and additional aid for renters and homeowners. The bill also includes new funding for airlines, restaurants, and small businesses, and doubles funding for schools ($225 billion). It includes $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, along with $28 billion for procurement, distribution and education campaigns for a safe and effective vaccine.