Senate Democrats Block Republicans’ $500 Billion Coronavirus Relief Package
Should Congress compromise and pass a $500 billion coronavirus relief bill?
What’s the story?
- Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a $500 billion “targeted” coronavirus (COVID-19) relief package introduced by Republicans. The vote failed along party-lines 52-44, eight votes shy of the 60 needed to “invoke cloture” and overcome the legislative filibuster, a similarly partisan margin by which Democrats blocked a GOP relief bill in September.
- The GOP package would extend federally-enhanced unemployment benefits, provide over $100 billion to schools for in-person and remote learning, and increase funding for testing, tracing, vaccine production and distribution. It would also fund a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provided $525 billion in forgivable loans to over 5 million small businesses before the application window closed with roughly $133 billion in funding capacity remaining.
- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) accused Republicans of playing “political games” and said that the Senate must instead pass Democrats’ $2.2 trillion Updated HEROES Act. After the vote on the Republicans’ COVID-19 relief bill, Schumer made a motion to raise a point of order that the Senate shouldn’t confirm a Supreme Court justice this close to an election, which was tabled on a party-line vote, as was a Schumer motion to adjourn the Senate.
- On Tuesday, Democrats rejected bills to provide a standalone extension and replenishment of the PPP and protect health insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, while Republicans rejected a Schumer motion to adjourn the Senate until after the election.
- Meanwhile, COVID-19 relief negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have continued for several weeks but haven’t reached an agreement on final legislative language. The sides have been hundreds of billions of dollars apart between Republican offers ranging between $1.3 trillion and $1.8 trillion, and Democrats’ insistence on the $2.2 trillion package.
- Pelosi has suggested that a deal would need to be reached by Friday for the House to be able to vote on a package before the election because of the time needed to draft and circulate the bill.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / ValerijaP)
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