Lame ducks back in the pond

Congress returns with virus aid, federal funding unresolved

By

National News

December 1, 2020 - 9:59 AM

U.S. Capitol building at sunset in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 17, 2019. Photo by (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of shadowboxing amid a tense and toxic campaign, Capitol Hill’s main players are returning for one final, perhaps futile, attempt at deal-making on a challenging menu of year-end business. 

COVID-19 relief, a $1.4 trillion catchall spending package, and defense policy — and a final burst of judicial nominees — dominate a truncated two- or three-week session occurring as the coronavirus pandemic rockets out of control in President Donald Trump’s final weeks in office.

Confirmed U.S. cases since March 1.

The only absolute must-do business is preventing a government shutdown when a temporary spending bill expires on Dec. 11. The route preferred by top lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is to agree upon and pass an omnibus spending bill for the government. But it may be difficult to overcome bitter divisions regarding a long-delayed COVID-19 relief package that’s a top priority of business, state and local governments, educators and others. 

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