The U.S. Senate remains in a state of chaos today as Senate Democrats are preventing efforts by Senate Republicans to provide relief to American businesses and households due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This is the second day of stonewalled deliberations.
By a vote of 47-47, the Senate’s $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package faltered before it could even be brought to the floor for an official vote on Sunday. Senate Democrats banded together to prevent Senate leadership from getting cloture to proceed to the bill, which requires 60 votes.
Just moments ago, the Senate’s second attempt to get on the bill failed in a 45-46 vote with some senators voting to abstain.
The Senate bill would include:
- Direct payments to individuals and families, roughly amounting to $1,200/person;
- Nearly $100 billion in aid to hospitals;
- $200 billion in loans to airlines and other afflicted industries;
- $300 billion in short-term loans for small businesses;
Reported by Politico, Senate Democrats’ concerns allegedly center on $500 billion in hand-outs to corporations; a lack of eviction protection language; stock buyback provisions which the Treasury Secretary can waive; and the aid package for state and local governments.
Notably, Senate Democrats had spent most of the previous week working with Senate Republicans on the language in a bipartisan fashion.
In a war of words, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on the floor after the failed vote, “I want everybody to fully understand if we aren’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 and address the problem.”
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) countered, saying, “The majority leader was well aware of how the vote would go before it happened but he chose to go forward with it anyway even though negotiations are continuing.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was reportedly instrumental in torpedoing the cloture vote, flying back to D.C. over the weekend with a wish list of new policy demands. She added afterwards, “We’ll (House leadership) be introducing our own bill and hopefully it will be compatible.”
First reported in The Hill last week, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told House Democrats on a conference call that the response to the coronavirus pandemic, “is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”
Negotiations over the bill were ongoing Sunday night and well into Monday morning, and Democrats are pushing for changes such as elimination of $10,000 worth of federal student loans for anyone who has them and “election security funding.”
Other reported Democratic demands include:
- $250 billion for unemployment insurance;
- Undisclosed total of additional billions in aid to hospitals;
- $350 billion in small business aid;
- $250 billion in direct cash payment to workers.
Fox News’ Guy P. Benson reported on Twitter that Pelosi was pushing new progressive provisions such as strengthening collective bargaining, increasing fuel emissions standards for airlines, and expanding wind and solar tax credits.
Senator John Cornyn said on Sunday, “I’m…pretty frustrated and downright angry at Sen. Schumer and Nancy Pelosi sitting on the sidelines receiving a government paycheck while hundreds of thousands of Americans are out of work because they’ve been told they can’t go to work and they’re not receiving a penny.”
Senate offices were reportedly receiving daily updates on the bill in the days leading up to the vote.
Republicans are currently short five members as Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Rick Scott (R-FL) have all self-isolated.
Paul, on Sunday, became the first Senator positively diagnosed with coronavirus.
The national debt is rapidly approaching $23.6 trillion and future fiscal outlooks from Goldman Sachs and other economic observers suggest that the U.S. is already in a recession.
Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.