Well, whaddaya know … you really do have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it. In a last-gasp overnight session, the Senate passed both the Phase 4 COVID-19 relief bill and the continuing resolution, both in forms that could have been settled months ago. Both bills will go to the White House for Donald Trump’s signature as soon as the paperwork is readied.
The Phase 4 bill’s parameters were well known enough to be recited in one’s sleep. The CR, however, had a couple of surprises, not the least of which was a codicil reneging on a previous agreement to end tax credits in the wind-energy sector. Senate Republicans objected to the extension, but by then there wasn’t much to be done about it. Which was precisely the point, of course:
The Senate late Monday night cleared a mammoth spending package for President Donald Trump’s signature that would provide nearly $900 billion to address the COVID-19 pandemic and fund federal agencies through the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2021.
Trump is expected to sign the legislation, though it could take a few extra days to get the paperwork ready. As insurance against a partial government shutdown, lawmakers also sent Trump a weeklong continuing resolution on Monday night, with little over an hour until the current funding extension was set to lapse.
The Senate cleared the measure on a 92-6 vote after a brief debate that mainly focused on the underlying bill’s one-year extension of production tax credits for wind energy. Senate Republicans from coal- and natural gas-producing states argued that they discovered the wind credit “surprise” when reviewing the massive 5,593-page bill, and cited a deal cut five years ago to phase the credit out completely.
“I feel like I’m living in episode of the ‘Twilight Zone,’” Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said on the floor, referring to the wind credit as a “market-distorting atrocity.” Cramer and fellow North Dakota Republican John Hoeven, along with James Lankford, R-Okla., tried to amend the package to strip out the wind credit extension, but Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., objected.