Democrats blocked a pared-down GOP coronavirus relief bill in a bitterly disputed Senate vote Thursday, leaving the two parties without a clear path forward to approve new economic stimulus before the November elections.
The vote was 52-47, far short of the 60 votes that would have been needed for the measure to advance. Democrats were united in opposing the legislation; all Republicans voted in favor except Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
For Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), wrangling a majority of the Senate behind the legislation constituted a measure of success, after months when Senate Republicans have been hopelessly divided. But next steps — if any — toward the kind of bipartisan deal that would be needed to actually pass a bill to provide new benefits to the public were unclear.
Negotiations between congressional Democrats and administration officials that collapsed in August have not restarted. Lawmakers from both parties did not close the door to future talks, but they also did not appear ready to relaunch negotiations.
The failed Senate vote comes amid pleas from Federal Reserve officials and others who have said more fiscal assistance is needed to prevent the economy from sliding further this year. Many of the benefits approved by Congress in the $2 trillion Cares Act in March have run out. Enhanced unemployment benefits expired July 31, and $1,200 stimulus checks have largely been spent. Roughly 29 million Americans received some type of jobless aid last week, new Labor Department data show, and large parts of the economy remain under severe strain.
The measure did not include a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks for individual Americans, even though that’s something the White House supports. It also excluded any new money for cities and states, a top Democratic priority as municipal governments face the prospect of mass layoffs because of plunging tax revenue. And it contained some conservative priorities that Democrats dismissed as unacceptable “poison pills,” including liability protections for businesses and a tax credit aimed at helping students attend private schools. [OUTFLANKED! –ed.]
Heckuva job! “We can convince the public the minority party in the Senate is responsible for our failure to pass anything” is exactly the kind of wishful thinking that McConnell’s successes as an opposition leader were built on recognizing as bullshit.
Anyway, this has been a rough year for David Mayhew. Democrats are willing to give Trump an electoral boost if it would actually help people, but Republicans would rather lose than actually help people, so here we are.