Congress works to pass COVID-19 relief package, government budget before end of year


WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Before the end of the year, there are a few key issues Congress must act on.

Lawmakers pledged to pass a new COVID-19 relief package, the defense bill to fund the military still needs to be negotiated and Congress must pass a budget to keep the government operating.

“Well, it’s not too late to make a difference,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell says he’s ready to pass a package of COVID-19 relief measures.

“Republicans stand ready to deliver this urgent aid. Let’s fund all the programs where there is not any real disagreement,” he said.

But, the biggest obstacle is the $1.7 trillion difference between McConnell’s targeted bill and the Democrats’ sweeping proposal.

“We Democrats have lowered our proposal by over a trillion dollars to move closer in negotiations. And what did Senate Republicans do? They didn’t move in our direction — they moved further away by cutting their already inadequate proposal in half (making compromise even more difficult),” explained Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The budget is also on the agenda.

“We need to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX).

Current funding runs out Dec. 11, leaving less than a month for Congress to pass a budget deal or another extension that keep the government operating.

Thornberry says there’s also the NDAA — the bill that funds the military.

“It’s big, it’s complicated, it has lots of controversial issues, and so there is always a chance it does not happen,” Thornberry said.

Lawmakers met this week to merge the Hosue and Senate versions of that bill. Thornberry says Congress has passed the NDAA for 59 consecutive years.

“We don’t want to blow it now,” he said.

Congress only has 10 more working days left to get this all done.

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