The EU's ambitious new coronavirus relief package is a stark contrast to U.S. gridlock

EU leaders.
(Image credit: JOHANNA GERON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The many countries of the European Union have managed to do what the United States can't.

On Friday, EU leaders agreed to not only pass a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package, but to also include a groundbreaking pledge to cut carbon emissions in half. Meanwhile, Congress in the U.S. is in its sixth month of debating a coronavirus package, and could be headed for a total government shutdown as soon as next week.

It took just a two-day summit for the EU's 27 member states to agree on a major climate change proposal that includes cutting carbon emissions by 55 percent by the end of 2030, as compared to 1990 levels. Even coal-reliant countries like Poland were persuaded to agree to the goal after previously holding out. The U.S. under President Trump pulled out of the base-level climate change Paris Agreement. President-elect Joe Biden has promised to rejoin the pledge, and has focused his first conversations with world leaders on climate change.

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In the U.S., the House on Wednesday passed a one-week funding bill to ensure the government didn't shut down on Friday. But the Senate has yet to agree to it, thanks to a holdout from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Paul filibustered a unanimous vote to proceed on the stopgap funding measure, only saying he would back down if the GOP Senate allowed for a final vote on the National Defense Authorization Act on Monday, Politico reports. Paul has a history of forcing shutdowns, holding up a funding bill in 2018 as he attempted to cut government spending.

Congress has also spent months failing to agree to a new coronavirus relief bill, with only a very faint light at the end of the tunnel as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) unite over stimulus checks.

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