Senate Democrats Again Block Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Over Desired Additions

The final shape of the Senate’s bill to limit the economic fallout of the coronavirus remains in doubt as Democrats, for the second straight day, blocked passage of the aid package because they want to spend more.

While President Donald Trump waited to sign some sort of “stimulus” bill into law, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed to include provisions of  Democrats’ Green New Deal proposal as well as other wish-list items. 

Shortly after noon Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had harsh words for Democrats’ insistence on tax credits for solar and wind energy initiatives and on tougher fuel emission standards

“Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals and save small businesses unless they get the dust off the Green New Deal,” McConnell said, adding in an apparent dig at Schumer, D-N.Y.: 

I’d like to see Senate Democrats tell NYC doctors and nurses, who are literally overrun as we speak, that they’re filibustering hospital funding and more masks because they want to argue with the airlines over their carbon footprint. 

The “stimulus” legislation, which requires the votes of 60 senators to advance, mustered only votes of 49-46 Monday. 

Republicans hold 53 seats in the Senate, but at least three GOP senators apparently won’t be able to vote: Rand Paul of Kentucky tested positive for coronavirus and Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, both of Utah, have self-quarantined because of close contact with Paul.

Two other Senate Republicans, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Rick Scott of Florida, also reportedly self-quarantined  because of potential exposure to the coronavirus. 

Pelosi, D-Calif., said Sunday that House Democrats would come up with their own bill. 

“It’s on the Senate side because that’s their deadline for a vote,” Pelosi said of Monday’s action. “We’ll be introducing our own bill, and hopefully it will be compatible.”

Pelosi unveiled a coronavirus stimulus package Monday that she said includes calling on Trump “to abandon his lawsuit seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act.”

The House speaker’s attempt to use the stimulus package to secure liberals’ own priorities frustrated Republicans, many of whom took to Twitter to voice their perspectives. 

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., chairman of the Republican Study Committee, tweeted before the Senate vote that House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., had said the coronavirus package is “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.” 

Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., tweeted: “Republicans & Democrats in the Senate negotiated a bipartisan deal which includes $75 billion for hospitals & $186 billion for state & local governments. @SpeakerPelosi & @SenSchumer need to stop blocking critically needed funding that will provide relief & keep Americans WORKING.”

“Let’s be clear about what’s happening right now,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., tweeted late Sunday night. “We had a bipartisan deal to deliver critical relief to hardworking families until Nancy Pelosi blew it up so she could play politics.”

“Enough already!” Scalise said in the tweet. “We’re in the middle of a national emergency. Drop the partisan demands.”

Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., tweeted Monday: “There was no need for this to be delayed–sadly @SpeakerPelosi and @SenSchumer hijacked the bipartisan negotiations. We’re covering small business & workers with liquidity & larger businesses with loans – not bailouts or grants – so they can pay their employees. This is urgent.”

The Senate’s aid package, released Thursday by Republicans, would cost about $2 trillion and give monetary relief to airlines and other industries slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as send checks to many Americans.

Among other provisions, couples who make up to $150,000 a year would get checks for $2,400 in the mail and individuals earning up to $75,000 would get checks for $1,200.

Heritage Foundation President Kay C. James said in a formal statement Sunday that the Senate legislation in its current form was economically irresponsible. 

“Like everyone, we are deeply concerned for our families, our neighbors, our friends, and the businesses we depend on. We also are concerned by many of the provisions in the CARES Act,” James said, adding:

Legislation to keep workers connected to employers, provide stability for businesses caught in this uncertainty, and mitigate the overall economic effects of this crisis is necessary. To best accomplish these goals, legislation must be targeted, temporary, and directed exclusively at the coronavirus. This bill does not pass those tests.

Generous bailouts for businesses and extremely broad federal assistance programs won’t best help those hit hardest or get our economy back up and running when the time comes. They’ll do what Washington programs often do: hurt the American people through unintended consequences while enriching a select few.

The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.

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