Federal Budget and COVID Relief Update

November 2, 2020

Lame-Duck Session and Prospects for Action

Congress and the President left DC to campaign without completing their work: appropriating funds for the federal government through the current fiscal year and enacting a COVID relief package. When they return after the election for a lame-duck session, they must by December 11 either put another temporary measure (Continuing Resolution) in place until early 2021, pass a status quo bill that maintains stable federal budget funding through September 30, 2021, or fight over spending priorities and risk yet another government shutdown if they cannot reach agreement.

Whether the parties finally come together on a COVID relief bill remains in doubt. President Trump and Speaker Pelosi have both stated they want to see a bill completed during the lame-duck session. However, negotiations remain far apart on most major issues, including aid for state and local governments, funding for vaccines, schools, and child care, and liability protections for employers. Senate Majority Leader McConnell disagrees with enacting relief during the post-election session, saying last week that he expects Congress to move another coronavirus relief package “right at the beginning” of 2021. He remains committed to a narrower version of stimulus legislation along the lines of a bill that failed to move last month. Other lawmakers, however, are preparing for serious lame-duck negotiations. Senate Democrats recently introduced the Heroes Small Business Lifeline Act, relying largely on the text of the House-passed Heroes 2 bill. Last week House Republicans introduced the Commitment to Defeat the Virus and Keep America Healthy Act that provides details on the forms of healthcare relief they support in a COVID relief package.

(Source:  National Council of NonProfits, 11/2)