Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress are still deadlocked Thursday in their negotiations over another COVID-19 relief package after a “skinny” stimulus bill failed in the Republican-majority Senate.
The bill only received 52 votes in the upper chamber, falling short of the 60 needed to overcome a Democrat filibuster. The $500 billion legislation, unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., provides $105 billion to help schools reopen, shields businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits, dedicates $268 billion to the Payroll Protection program and offers $300 a week in additional benefits to jobless Americans.
“Every Senate Democrat just voted against hundreds of billions of dollars of COVID-19 relief. They blocked money for schools, testing, vaccines, unemployment insurance, and the Paycheck Protection Program,” McConnell tweeted after the vote. “Their goal is clear: No help for American families before the election.”
Other Republican senators claimed there would not be another relief bill prior to the November election, while blaming the Democrats.
“Congress is not going to pass another COVID relief bill before the election,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a video he posted on Twitter. “And the biggest reason why is Speaker Pelosi & Senator Schumer believe Trump & the GOP will be blamed for the pain doing nothing will cause & that will help them win the White House & Senate in November.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., believes Republicans would eventually return to the negotiating table.
“Each time McConnell said, it’s our bill or nothing, when it was a bill without any input from Democrats, when the bill was defeated they came back and we actually got some bipartisan stuff done. I would hope they would do that,” Schumer told reporters Thursday.
House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reiterated her call to pass the Heroes Act, a $3.4 trillion stimulus package that was passed in May by the Democratic-majority House.
“The White House and Republican Senators need to accept the gravity of the crisis facing American communities and work with Democrats to #FundTheFrontLines,” Pelosi tweeted after the vote on the lastest proposed bill. “Our state & local heroes need our support so they can keep working to save lives. Pass The #HeroesAct now!”
Pelosi had offered Republicans to come down to a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, but Republican leaders rejected the offer. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said the Republican side would be willing to come up to $1.5 trillion, but negotiations collapsed after the Democrats asked to come up to $2 trillion.
The clock is ticking on more stimulus negotiations before the election. The Senate is expected to take another recess starting on Oct. 12. The House is expected to convene on Monday but members will likely leave Washington by Oct. 2.
President Trump in August signed a series of executive orders, deferring payroll taxes, suspending student loan payments and extending federal protections from evictions. Trump has suggested using $300 billion in unused COVID-19 relief funds for another round of direct payments but said he would need congressional authorization.