U.S. Congress approves another stopgap funding bill as deal reached on COVID-19 relief.


   WASHINGTON, Dec. 21 -- The U.S. Congress on Sunday passed another stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown and provide lawmakers more time to vote on the COVID-19 relief deal and long-term government funding.
   The House of Representatives on Sunday night approved a funding measure that will keep the government open through Dec. 21, or Monday, giving Congress more time to vote on the newly reached COVID-19 stimulus deal.
   The Senate passed the bill shortly after, and sent it to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.
   Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that lawmakers have just reached an agreement on the long-awaited COVID-19 relief package, and will pass the bill as soon as possible.
   "Congress has just reached an agreement. We will pass another rescue package ASAP," the top Republican in the upper chamber said in a tweet. "More help is on the way."
   The 900-billion-USD relief plan under negotiation was set to include another round of direct payments for individuals, federal unemployment benefits, and more funding for Paycheck Protection Program to support small businesses.
   Amid COVID-19 spikes, U.S. economic recovery seems to be losing momentum, but Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been deadlocked for months over the size and scope of the next round of relief package.
   House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, top Democrat in the lower chamber, and McConnell have recently said that they want to attach the COVID-19 relief legislation to an omnibus funding bill.
   Lawmakers previously passed stopgap funding bills to avert a government shutdown and provide lawmakers more time to negotiate a deal in COVID-19 relief and long-term government funding.Xinhua