Trump signs stopgap funding as Congress passes virus relief Bill

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – President Donald Trump signed a seven-day government spending Bill, averting a federal shutdown as the White House awaits formal paperwork after Congress cleared long-term funding and a US$900 billion (S$1.20 trillion) pandemic relief measure designed to revive the US economy.

Both the House and Senate on Monday night (Dec 21) approved a massive spending Bill that combines the Covid-19 aid with US$1.4 trillion in regular government funding.

Mr Trump is expected to sign that measure, but logistical complexities prevented the 5,593-page Bill from quickly getting to him.

Before the President can sign the full package, it must be enrolled on parchment paper, physically delivered to the White House and reviewed by administration lawyers, a process complicated by the pandemic and coming Christmas holiday.

In the interim, the legislation signed by Mr Trump keeps government departments and agencies open.

The seven-day stopgap legislation was the third continuing resolution signed by the President since Friday proving temporary funding.

The virus package would provide direct payments of US$600 to most Americans and US$300 in enhanced unemployment benefits through March.

Expiring relief measures for gig workers and the long-term unemployed were renewed.

The bill also includes US$284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Programme, which provides forgivable loans for small businesses, as well as money for airlines and other transportation networks; vaccine distribution; schools and universities; food aid and many other provisions.

Some lawmakers objected to the fast-track process leaders used to clear the virus aid and the government funding through September.

“Congress needs time to actually read this package before voting on it,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, tweeted earlier on Monday.

“Members of Congress have not read this Bill.”

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