Senate showdown over pandemic relief stalls as Pelosi preps Democratic bill

By John Parkinson

ABC News – The Senate’s second attempt to advance a massive $2 trillion bill to provide economic relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic failed Monday afternoon, demonstrating an inability to strike a bipartisan agreement on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

The vote failed 49-46, falling well short of the 60 votes needed to advance to debate on the bill, which represents the third phase of congressional aid to respond to the crisis.

After the vote, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell warned that the Senate might not be able to pass a bill until Friday or Saturday, blasting Democrats for “mindless obstruction.”

“While the public is waiting for us to act, while people losing their jobs, losing their income and shutting down the economy which we’ve had to do to deal with this public health crisis, they’re fiddling around with Senate procedure that could, if one senator objected, take us all the way to the end of the week to solve this problem,” McConnell fumed. “The American people have had just enough of this nonsense. They wonder where we are. They’re looking to us to solve this problem!”

Prior to the vote, Republicans complained Democrats have turned negotiations into a “leftwing episode of Supermarket Sweep.”

McConnell called the GOP proposal a “compromise package” that would provide tens of billions of dollars to hospitals, provide checks to millions of families, prevent layoffs and provide “historic relief” to small businesses.

“Why are Democrats filibustering the bipartisan bill they helped write?” McConnell wondered, ticking through a “Democratic wish list” that he said was preventing an agreement, including tax credits for solar energy and wind energy provisions to force employers to give “special new treatment for big labor,” and new emissions standards for airlines.

“Are you kidding me? This is the moment to debate new regulations that have nothing whatsoever to do whatsoever with this crisis? That’s what they’re up to over there. The American people need to know it,” McConnell, R-Ky., said. “Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the Green New Deal.”

“They ought to be embarrassed,” he said. “This is not a juicy political opportunity, this is a national emergency.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer continued to meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Monday morning, responding to McConnell on the Senate floor while stressing negotiations are ongoing.

“These are trying times for all of us, but the scourge of this disease will pass. The American people, as always, will prevail,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said. “The Senate continues to negotiate what will likely be the largest emergency funding bill in history.”

“We’re very close to reaching a deal, very close, and our goal is to reach a deal today, and we’re hopeful – even confident, that we will meet that goal,” Schumer said.

Schumer acknowledged that the bill has moved in the Democratic direction in regard to unemployment insurance, but protested that it “still includes something most Americans don’t want to see: large corporate bailouts with almost no strings attached.”

“Maybe the majority leader thinks it’s unfair to ask protections for workers and labor to companies that are getting hundreds of billions of dollars,” Schumer said. “We think it’s very fair to ask for those. Those are not extraneous issues. That is a wish list for workers, nobody else.”

Schumer said Democrats are guided by “workers first” and stressed the bill “needs to reflect that priority.”

He dismissed the doomed vote Monday afternoon and said that “real progress” is happening during his negotiations with Mnuchin.

“I’m going to get back to negotiations,” he said. “We have an obligation to get the details right.”

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Categories: National News, News, Politics