WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has signed a one-week stopgap funding bill to keep the federal government open through December 18, providing more time for lawmakers to negotiate a much-awaited coronavirus relief package.
The President signed the bill, known as a continuing resolution, on Friday night after the Senate passed it earlier in the day by a voice vote just a few hours before the government funding was set to expire, Xinhua news agency. On Wednesday, the Democrat-led House of Representatives passed the bill with a vote of 343-67.
Meanwhile, negotiators are still trying to secure a broader agreement that would include the 12 fiscal 2021 bills and fund the government until October 1, 2021.
"I remain hopeful that essential progress on these items will continue. We ought to pass a full-year funding measure and I hope our committees in the Senate and House can complete their work and deliver legislation next week," The Hill news website quoted the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as saying in a statement also on Friday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said that they want to attach a long-awaited Covid-19 relief legislation to an omnibus funding bill, which will keep the government open while providing targeted relief to households and businesses.
Despite the unabated resurgence of fresh coronavirus cases across the country, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been deadlocked for months over the size and scope of the next relief package. The White House on Tuesday proposed a new $916 billion Covid-19 relief package to the Democrats.
But Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said it didn't provide enough funding for unemployment insurance.
Without a new relief package, many Americans will soon lose their unemployment benefits and begin to face hardships like eviction and foreclosure by the end of the year.
Earlier this week, the Chamber of Commerce had warned that failure to enact a meaningful pandemic package "risks a double-dip recession that will permanently shutter small businesses across the nation and leave millions of Americans with no means to support themselves and their families". (IANS)