CEOs Seek Liability Shield in Next Relief Bill: Congress Update

President Donald Trump has until the end of Dec. 28 to sign a massive year-end measure that includes pandemic relief and annual funding for federal agencies, after the House and Senate passed the bill Monday night.

The roughly $900 billion aid package is attached to a $1.4 trillion omnibus to fund government operations through the end of the fiscal year, along with a bevy of other bills and tax breaks. Democrats are already saying that more support will be needed for the U.S. economy, while most Republicans are starting to signal their concern with the federal deficit.

President-elect Joe Biden has praised the bipartisan negotiations that produced this round of virus relief, but he also made it clear that he sees this legislation as a down payment on what will ultimately be needed.

Other Developments:

CEOs Seek Liability Shield in Next Relief Bill (11:58 a.m.)

Business leaders are calling on Congress to act on a new pandemic relief bill next year, including aid for state and local governments and liability protections for employers from virus-related lawsuits.

The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers including Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com Inc. and Tim Cook of Apple Inc., called for Congress to address some of the more controversial measures that were left out of the relief bill.

Republicans had been pushing for a liability shield that Democrats said would provide overly broad protection from employer responsibility for worker safety. Democrats wanted direct aid for state and local governments, which Republicans described as a bailout for Democratic-led states.

“We urge policymakers to revisit at the start of 2021 how best to provide liability protections to businesses that follow federal worker and customer safety guidelines and assistance to state and local governments,” the association wrote in a statement. -- Jarrell Dillard

Trump Has a Week to Sign Massive Year-End Bill (2 a.m.)

The massive virus relief and spending legislation is so long that lawmakers passed a separate, temporary funding measure to allow extra time to print and prepare all 5,593 pages for Trump to sign the bigger bill.

The $2.3 trillion bill was the product of intense negotiations that snagged several times in recent weeks as lawmakers began digging into details. A compromise over the weekend on the future of the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs cleared the way for congressional leaders to strike a deal on the $900 billion in coronavirus relief included in the package.

Because the pandemic-related deal was combined with annual funds for federal agencies, Congress has had to pass a series of stopgap spending measures to prevent a government shutdown while negotiations dragged on.

Federal agencies are now funded through Dec. 28

The final bill funds the government through the end of fiscal 2021 on Sept. 30.

Main Virus Relief Components:
  • $600 direct payments to most Americans
  • $300 a week in extra unemployment benefits through March
  • $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program that helps small businesses
  • $82 billion for K-12 schools and universities
  • $69 billion for vaccine development, testing and community health
  • $25 billion in rental assistance
  • $15 billion for performance venues
  • $15 billion in aid for airlines
  • $14 billion for public transit
  • $13 billion for food-stamp benefits
  • $13 billion in aid to farmers and ranchers
  • $10 billion for childcare

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