What’s the story?
- Senate Democrats on Thursday voted to block a procedural vote that would’ve allowed the Senate to debate and potentially pass a $300 billion coronavirus relief bill introduced by Republicans.
- The Republican bill ― known as the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act ― would’ve provided $105 billion for school reopenings and giving parents more choices for schools; $31 billion for COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccine development; $16 billion for states to conduct more testing and contact tracing; $15 billion for childcare for working parents; extended federally enhanced unemployment benefits; and replenished the Paycheck Protection Program.
- The 52-47 vote was on what’s known as a cloture motion (aka the legislative filibuster), which requires 60 votes in favor to limit debate on an issue to 30 hours. Because of the partisan composition of the Senate, at least seven Democratic votes are needed to overcome the legislative filibuster when all 53 Republicans vote in favor.
- Thursday’s vote saw all 46 Democrats who were in attendance vote against the coronavirus relief bill, and all Republicans vote in favor except for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), the Democratic vice presidential nominee, was the lone absentee.
- It’s unclear what will happen next in coronavirus relief negotiations, or whether there will be any genuine movement toward a bipartisan bill out of the ongoing stalemate.
- Democrats passed the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act in late May, and have signaled a willingness to support a package with a $2.2 trillion price tag.
- Republicans and the Trump administration initially proposed a $1 trillion bill, known as the HEALS Act, and were willing to go as high as $1.3 trillion, but after negotiations broke down opted to pursue a narrower package.
- With the House set to return from recess next week, it’s possible that negotiators may be able to break the deadlock this month before Congress adjourns for its pre-election recess at the end of September.
- While progress in coronavirus relief talks this month is far from a certainty, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have indicated that they aren’t planning to include COVID-19 measures in a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government beyond September 30th, which could complicate efforts to avoid a partial government shutdown.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: AFGE via Flickr / Creative Commons)
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