Congress agreed on a spending bill on Friday evening to keep the government open for two more days. The stopgap measure is intended to give lawmakers an opportunity to agree on a coronavirus relief bill before Sunday night, although that task has proved impossible for months. Republicans and Democrats have been arguing about how much direct aid to provide to individuals, as well as how much aid to offer small businesses, schools and more. The price tag for the bill as it stands would be more than $900 billion, much less than the $2 trillion CARES Act Congress passed in the spring.
The country is experiencing the worst rates of coronavirus cases and deaths than at any point this year. More than 300,000 people have died of the virus and more than 17 million people in the U.S. have been infected. Hospitals across the country are nearing ICU capacity and public health officials fear holiday travel will fuel further cases. Distribution of the Pfizer vaccine began this week but it is expected to be months before the vaccine is widely available. House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell received the vaccination on Friday.