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On The Money: Congress passes bill to avert shutdown as coronavirus talks drag into weekend | Federal Reserve fight imperils relief talks

On The Money: Congress passes bill to avert shutdown as coronavirus talks drag into weekend | Federal Reserve fight imperils relief talks
© Greg Nash

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THE BIG DEAL—Congress passes bill to avert shutdown as coronavirus talks drag into weekend: Congress passed a days-long stopgap bill on Friday, hours before the government was scheduled to shut down, as negotiations over another coronavirus stimulus bill stretched into the weekend.

“I think all of our colleagues understand our present situation. Both sides of the aisle are firmly committed to finalizing another pandemic rescue package ... But alas we are not there yet," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellJudiciary Committee greenlights Garland's AG nomination This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback Juan Williams: Hypocrisy runs riot in GOP MORE (R-Ky.) "Given that, our urgent task is to pass a stopgap funding measure."

It wasn’t clear throughout Friday that the Senate would be able to pass the stopgap bill. The Hill’s Jordain Carney tells us why here.

Shutdown averted: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Senators push for changes as chamber nears vote on .9T relief bill | Warren offers bill to create wealth tax Sanders vows to force vote on minimum wage No. 2 Senate Democrat shoots down overruling parliamentarian on minimum wage MORE (I-Vt.) initially interrupted passage of the bill on Friday night as though to object but ultimately did not.

“Majority Leader McConnell and I do not agree on much but as I understand it we are in agreement on at least one point and that is that the Senate cannot go home until a COVID emergency relief bill is passed," Sanders said.

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Coronavirus deal the last hurdle: Lawmakers approved the stopgap bill with leaders still haggling over a deal that would tie roughly $900 billion in coronavirus aid to a $1.4 trillion bill to fund the government. 

Negotiators had hoped to be able to announce a deal on an overarching package by Friday night’s deadline, but have yet to resolve several key sticking points.

“Legal experts, senior banking officials, and former Republican and Democratic regulatory officials all agree: the proposal to pull back on the Fed’s 13(3) authority would set a terrible precedent, hurt the Fed’s independence, and weaken its ability to respond quickly to future crises,” said Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump teases on 2024 run Sunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate Warner: White House should 'keep open additional sanctions' against Saudi crown prince MORE (D-Va.). 

The Hill’s Niv Elis has more here on the fight over the Fed’s lending facilities.

 

LEADING THE DAY

GOP senator blocks bill for $1,200 stimulus checks for second time: GOP Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonJuan Williams: Hypocrisy runs riot in GOP Graham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents Partisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission MORE (Wis.) blocked a proposal to provide another round of stimulus checks for the second time on Friday — this time when it was offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). 

“I'm not heartless. I want to help people ... I voted for the $2.2 trillion CARES Act but I am also concerned about our children's future ... We do not have an unlimited checking account,” Johnson, who is up for reelection in 2022, said after he blocked Sanders's request. 

Sanders, before he tried to pass the bill, said it was “comical that suddenly our Republican friends once again discover that we have a deficit.”

Jordain has more here.

 

Lawmakers ask IRS if its systems were compromised in SolarWinds hack: Two key House lawmakers are seeking answers from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about whether any of the agency's systems were compromised as part of a massive cyberattack.

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"We believe that it is important to provide taxpayers with a full understanding of the extent of the SolarWinds Orion compromise to maintain confidence in the federal tax system," Reps. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellDemocrats hesitant to raise taxes amid pandemic Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Democrats urge IRS to extend tax-filing season MORE (D-N.J.) and Mike KellyGeorge (Mike) Joseph KellyRepublican rips GOP lawmakers for voting by proxy from CPAC Supreme Court won't review Pennsylvania GOP election lawsuits Pennsylvania's Democratic lt. governor files to run for Senate MORE (R-Pa.) — the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the House Ways and Means Committee's oversight subcommittee — wrote in a letter Friday to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

"We also request that you provide a bipartisan briefing on these matters as soon as possible," the lawmakers added.

  • Media outlets have reported that several federal agencies were breached as part of a hack on IT company SolarWinds. The attack is widely believed to have been carried out by a Russian military group.
  • The Treasury Department, which houses IRS, is one of the departments that reportedly was breached. 
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has directed federal agencies to examine their networks for indications of any compromise.

The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda tells us more here.

 

GOOD TO KNOW