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Congress returns with priorities of passing measures to avoid shutdown, fund coronavirus relief

Another concern is whether Congress can pass the National Defense Authorization Act

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Capitol building
Capitol building, Washington, D.C.
(Just the News)
Updated: November 30, 2020 - 5:04pm

Congress returns this week for a lame duck session in which House and Senate leaders have several pressing concerns – foremost to pass a spending bill to avert a government shutdown next month and perhaps finally pass another round of coronavirus relief spending. 

Congress is in session for just 11 days before members again leave for an extended Christmas holiday break and appear to have only one full week together, starting Monday, to pass key measures. 

Negotiators are expected to pass an omnibus or stopgap measure to avert a shutdown, which would be largely unpopular and damaging to both parties. While they have purportedly agree to topline numbers – holding spending at existing level – some issues still present roadblocks, including a coronavirus stimulus spending that includes state and local funding and a replenishing of the Paycheck Protection Program. 

Top Hill lawmakers such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would prefer to agree upon and pass an omnibus spending bill. However, reaching that deal could be difficult because of the partisan divide over the long-delayed coronavirus relief package, which is now at an estimated $1.4 trillion, according to the Associated Press.

Another concern is whether Congress can pass the National Defense Authorization Act. Democratic and Republican lawmakers want to allow for military bases to remove the names of Confederate leaders for which they were named. However, President Trump has suggested he will not sign any measure that approves such renaming.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has also signaled that continuing to confirm Trump judicial nominees remains another top priority.