WASHINGTON - Congress looked to avert a government shutdown for the second time in a week by passing a two-day stopgap funding bill to allow lawmakers more time to agree on a COVID relief bill.
The continuing resolution (CR), which passed both the House and Senate with just hours to spare before a midnight deadline, will prevent a government shutdown and allow Congress more time to iron out sticking points in the $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill that Americans have been awaiting for months.
The House passed the measure in a 320-60 vote with the Senate approving it by a voice vote soon after, The Associated Press reported. President Trump signed the legislation late Friday, the report said.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said the public should not expect a bill to be agreed to sooner than 1 p.m. Sunday.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., blamed Republicans for the inability to reach a deal Friday, saying the stimulus checks have proven to be the sticking point.
"We want $1200 at least," she told the Hill. "And Republicans are fighting it back down to $600, which is really unfortunate. $600 is not enough."
But GOP Sen. Josh Hawley, Mo., who along with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have pushed Congress to approve stimulus checks, said he would "continue to fight for $1200/ person and $500 (min) for kids for working families."
"I am so frustrated by the inability of us to act like adults, with responsibility," Hoyer told reporters Friday evening, The Hill reported.
Though lawmakers are hopeful they will actually vote on the relief package this weekend, Hoyer said they would only be given two hours’ notice before needing to appear at the Capitol for the vote – meaning lawmakers will have little time to read through a $908 billion package likely running hundreds of pages long.
"I'm adamantly opposed to shutting down the government that serves the people of the United States, and indeed globally," Hoyer told Fox News. "And I'm definitely not for keeping 2 million federal employees twisting in the wind about what we're going to do so, that would not be an option for me."
The House majority leader was clearly frustrated by the second passing on a stopgap bill after last week’s continued resolution, and said he wasn’t concerned by the short amount of time lawmakers will have to review the legislation given the "thousands of people in food lines and millions of people worried about how they’re going to pay the rent ... how they’re going to survive the next day. Much more worried about that," the Washington Post reported.