Federal COVID Relief Package Still In Limbo During A Lame-Duck Congress

The Trump Administration is taking a step back in negotiating a future coronavirus relief package.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who recently called on Congress to approve a relief package before the end of the year is now the lead Republican negotiator.

Prior to the election, negotiations over another coronavirus relief package were handled predominantly between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Despite reported progress, negotiators failed to reach an agreement on the overall price tag of the next coronavirus relief package.

The Trump Administration proposed a $1.8 trillion deal; Speaker Pelosi called for funding exceeding $2 trillion; and Senate Republicans expressed reluctance to support any package that exceeded $1 trillion.

Liability protections remain a top priority for Senate Republicans; Speaker Pelosi insists robust state and local aid is paramount for Democratic support.

House Democrats could refuse to advance a smaller COVID-19 relief package and wait for President-elect Biden to take office to reach a better deal.

However, there are no guarantees since Democrats will be working with a very slim House majority and the Senate is likely to stay in GOP hands.

In addition to a coronavirus relief measure, Congress must keep the government funded beyond the current December 11 continuing resolution deadline.

Should Congress pass a coronavirus measure before January, an outstanding question is whether President Trump would sign the legislation into law.

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