Senate Fails Again on Coronavirus Relief Bill
Health Care

Senate Fails Again on Coronavirus Relief Bill

Reuters/Mary F. Calvert

They still don’t have a deal.

For the second time in two days, Senate Democrats on Monday blocked a nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, as a four-day-long scramble to finalize the legislation remained stalled by partisan differences and angry recriminations.

The Washington Post reports that “near-pandemonium erupted on the Senate floor with lawmakers venting fury about their failed efforts to address the pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy.”

The vote Monday was 49-46, with Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama the only Democrat to support advancing the legislation.

What Republicans are saying: GOP senators said the situation calls for fast action and accused their Democratic counterparts of putting their political agenda ahead of the dire needs of the American public. "The country is burning, and your side wants to play political games," Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats – and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi specifically – of derailing progress toward a compromise by making late demands, including tax credits for solar and wind energy and emissions standards for airlines. "The speaker of the House flew back from San Francisco, and suddenly, the Senate's serious bipartisan process turned into this left-wing episode of 'Supermarket Sweep,' unrelated issues left and right," he said.

What Democrats are saying: Democrats continue to argue that the stimulus package disproportionately benefits corporations over workers and health care providers, and that a lack of restrictions and oversight for a $500 billion fund designed to help businesses hit by the pandemic make it a “slush fund” that could be exploited by companies and their executives. They also object to language that would allow the Treasury secretary to withhold names of companies getting federal money for six months and to waive a restriction on companies that take taxpayer money from buying back their own stock.

Democrats are also pushing for an expansion of unemployment insurance to last four months instead of three and are looking to get hundreds of billions of dollars for hospitals and states, according to Politico. And they say that Republicans have included some political provisions of their own, including extending an abstinence education program.

The bottom line: Despite the failed vote, Senate Democrats and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is representing the Trump administration in the ongoing talks, insisted that the sides were making progress and getting close to a deal. But McConnell reportedly warned that, given the delays, a final vote might not happen until Friday or Saturday.

Read more at The Washington Post or Politico.