Covid19 News

Senate falls far short of votes needed to advance coronavirus bill as clash between R

Negotiations continued even as the initial procedural vote fell short, with 47 senators voting in favor and 47 opposed. The tally was well short of the 60 votes that were needed to move forward. The number of “aye” votes was especially low because five Republicans are quarantined over coronavirus fears.

Although senators of both parties and Trump administration officials vowed to continue negotiating — around the clock if necessary — the failed vote was the latest negative signal about Congress’ ability to come together around the legislation, which aims to inject close to $1.8 trillion into businesses and households. Policymakers are scrambling to address a spike in layoffs and businesses gasping for assistance as millions of Americans stay home to avoid contagion.

Ever since Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced the legislation Thursday night, senators have missed one self-imposed deadline after another to reach a deal. The vote Sunday evening was delayed three hours so talks could continue after it became clear it would fail, but no resolution was reached and it failed anyway. McConnell set another procedural vote for 9:45 Monday morning and dared Democrats to block it, noting repeatedly that the vote would come shortly after the opening of the stock market.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin takes a phone call outside a meeting to wrap up work on a coronavirus economic stimulus bill. (Mary Calvert/Reuters)
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin takes a phone call outside a meeting to wrap up work on a coronavirus economic stimulus bill. (Mary Calvert/Reuters)

“Right now, they’re not there,” President Trump said earlier in the day from the White House with the vote underway. “But I think that the Democrats want to get there. And I can tell you for a fact, the Republicans want to get there. And I don’t think anybody actually has a choice.”

The bill would seek to flood the economy with money in an effort to protect millions of jobs and businesses that now appear to be on the brink. It would direct payments of $1,200 to most American adults and $500 to children. It would steer $350 billion towards small businesses to stem the tide of layoffs, and push billions more towards hospitals and the unemployment insurance system. And it would create a massive, $500 billion program for businesses, states, and localities, with the direction and velocity of this loan program left mostly to the Treasury Department’s discretion. Few aspects of the legislation had any precedent to draw from in terms of their scale and speed.

Indeed, the sheer magnitude of the potential calamity kept lawmakers at the bargaining table as negotiators on both sides said they must deliver to slow the financial landslide that is disrupting millions of businesses and households by the day.

At the same time, McConnell said it was time for Democrats to “take ‘yes’ for an answer” and accept a bill that he said incorporated many of their ideas. Democrats, though, alleged McConnell’s bill is tilted too far in favor of corporations and doesn’t include much oversight for $500 billion in loans and guarantees that could go to firms selected by the Treasury Department.

Senate Democrats and Republicans spent Friday and Saturday negotiating over the legislation with both sides saying they’d made progress, until McConnell announced late Saturday he was moving forward on drafting a bill even though there wasn’t yet a final deal. Each side quickly blamed the other for the breakdown.

After the vote failed, McConnell angrily lectured Democrats about the outcome. Republicans had hoped to move forward to final passage of the legislation on Monday, a goal that now looks improbable.

“The notion that we have time to play games here with the American economy and the American people is utterly absurd,” McConnell said. “The American people expect us to act tomorrow and I want everybody to fully understand if we are’t able to act tomorrow it will be because of our colleagues on the other side continuing to dicker when the country expects us to come together.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) came to the floor a short time later to declare that Republicans were the ones behaving unreasonably by trying to advance what he called a partisan bill. Democrats said that despite some concessions on the part of Republicans, the GOP bill still had too many flaws and did not do enough to shore up the health care system and help average Americans.

“Now, let me be clear: the Majority Leader was well aware of how this vote would go before it happened, but he chose to move forward with it anyway—even though negotiations are continuing, so who’s playing games?” Schumer asked, before adding a hopeful note: “Can we overcome the remaining disagreements in the next twenty-four hours? Yes. We can and we should. The nation demands it.”

A major sticking point is a $500 billion pool of money for loans and loan guarantees that Republicans want to create, which some Democrats are labeling a “slush fund” because the Treasury Department would have broad discretion over who…

Source Website Senate falls far short of votes needed to advance coronavirus bill as clash between R

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