Congress averts shutdown; fight continues over pandemic aid

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., removes his face mask as he arrives for a news conference with other Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Pool via AP)

WASHINGTON, DC (Associated Press) — Congress has passed a two-day stopgap spending bill to avert a partial government shutdown this weekend.

It’s part of an effort by lawmakers to buy additional time for frustratingly slow endgame negotiations on an almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package.

The lawmakers are aiming for a vote Sunday to close out the broad package.

Negotiators are seeking to resolve a battle over emergency Federal Reserve lending powers. Democrats say the GOP proposal would deprive President-elect Joe Biden of crucial tools to manage the economy.

The hoped-for agreement would provide more than $300 billion in aid to businesses, a $300-per-week bonus federal jobless benefit, and $600 direct payments to individuals.

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