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.:
The “stimulus” legislation, which requires the votes of 60 senators to advance, mustered only votes of 49-46 Monday.
Tensions flared on the Senate floor Monday as lawmakers viscerally clashed on camera over phase three of a coronavirus response package, with Democrats blocking Republican efforts to advance the massive stimulus bill for the second day in a row.
Leaving the legislation in limbo once more, the Senate stalled over the package Monday afternoon on a 49-46 vote. It needed 60 votes to advance.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., then stormed to the floor to accuse Democrats of “mindless obstruction” that could drag out any action for days. He said Democrats’ list of demands keeps getting “longer and longer.”
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.”
People are scared. People are hurting. Jobs are being lost. Retirements are being destroyed.
Yet DC Democrats just killed legislation they helped write to lift up US families and small businesses. Why? Partisan bombs and gamesmanship.
Everyone needs to get over themselves. pic.twitter.com/JgLstZ9LD9
— Rep. Mark Walker (@RepMarkWalker) March 23, 2020
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.”