Politics

Senate Democrats reject Republicans’ latest Coronavirus rescue package

PHOTO CREDITS: KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI  

Senate Democrats rejected Republicans’ latest COVID-19 rescue package on Thursday, as the parties argued to a standstill over the size and scope of the aid, likely ending hopes for Coronavirus relief before the November election. 

The vote to end debate on the roughly $650 billion package was 52-47, falling short of the necessary 60 votes. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was the sole GOP “no” vote. Democrats wanted a more expensive COVID package of about two trillion, whereas many Republicans wanted a more targeted relief bill of about $1 trillion. “This bill is not going to happen because it is so emaciated, so filled with poison pills, so partisanly designed. It was designed to fail,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on Thursday. “We’re going to vote on policy,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Thursday before the vote. “Today, every senator will either say they want to send families the relief we can agree to, or they can send families nothing.” 

Key features of the GOP bill included a $300 boost in weekly unemployment insurance benefits through Dec. 27, and a revamped Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) offering a “second draw” of loans for hard-hit businesses. Other provisions of the Senate GOP relief bill include: A revamped PPP taking back unspent Small Business Administration funds and offering “second draw” loans, capped at $2 million each, to firms with 300 or fewer workers that have seen revenue drop at least 35% year-over-year. The new program is estimated to cost nearly $258 billion, but the net cost drops to about $112 billion after rescinding unspent SBA funds. 

Republicans blamed the Democrats’ lack of bipartisanship and heavy-handed tactics for blocking the Senate Coronavirus relief bill. “Once again, Democrats have hung the American people out to dry. Republicans proposed targeted relief for those hardest hit by the virus. A majority of the Senate supported it,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) said in a statement on Thursday after the vote. Democrats said that the bill does not due enough to address the needs of working Americans, and that the Senate should instead re-negotiate a deal that will do this (CNN). 

ARTICLE: CARSON CHOATE

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