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Trump speaking in the White House on Dec. 7. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Friday signed a continuing resolution to fund the government through Dec. 18, temporarily averting a shutdown after the Senate passed the bill earlier the same day.

Why it matters: The short-term resolution is simply a time-saver, buying Congress an extra week to work out their differences over a longer-term funding deal and a coronavirus stimulus package — something they’ve tried, and failed, to pass for months.

Yes, but: There’s no motivator like the holidays to kick members into gear, and lawmakers are more hopeful than they’ve been in months about reaching any sort of compromise.

What they're saying: Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) objected to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's initial attempt to pass the the resolution via unanimous consent, demanding that Congress pass a relief deal with direct payments to Americans.

  • Sanders said he would withdraw his objection this week, but would not do so when funding expires before Christmas.
  • Hawley did the same, pleading: "If the Senate of the United States can find hundreds of billions of dollars to give to big government and big business, surely it can find some relief for working families and working individuals."

The big picture: Despite the momentum in stimulus talks, McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to budge on his red line of including liability protections for businesses in the next relief bill.

  • Senate Republicans are also unlikely to back aid for state and local governments, a key Democratic demand.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said lawmakers "cannot go home" until a deal is reached, suggesting that Congress could stay in session until Dec. 26, when a slate of emergency aid programs are set to expire.

Go deeper

McConnell defends filibuster: "You don’t destroy the Senate for fleeting advantage"

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday condemned Democratic support for abolishing the legislative filibuster, arguing that it would create a "scorched-earth Senate."

Why it matters: Many Democrats are pushing to use their newfound majority to eliminate the 60-vote threshold needed for major legislation, which would make it easier to pass progressive priorities. Resistance from Republicans and moderate Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (W.V.) has made that unlikely.

Schumer rattles reconciliation saber

More than an aisle separates Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, seen in the Senate Chamber after the Capitol siege. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Chuck Schumer is expected to telegraph, as soon as tonight, that he will use his political muscle to pass some of his party’s priorities — like President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

Why it matters: While the Senate majority leader wants to work with Republicans on key legislation, advisers say, he will make clear that using the simple majority vote inherent in the budget reconciliation process is one of the big sticks at his disposal.

Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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