Senate Democrats made it clear they would not pass anything but the amount they wanted to give to the American people. Members of the upper chamber in Congress refused to compromise from their $2.2 trillion dollar amount, and now, there is no further aid expected to pass through the legislative branch until November.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced his second aid package with the hope it would pass before the August recess. The House, however, had already passed a $3 trillion dollar package, which included extended unemployment benefits and hefty payouts to state and local governments. After weeks of negotiations with the White House, Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they would be willing to vote on a package if the Republicans went up a trillion, and the Democrats went down a trillion. But while the CARES package already added $2 trillion to the deficit, Republicans would not add another huge amount towards coronavirus aid as state and local governments chose to keep their economies locked down.
McConnell then introduced a $300 billion dollar package this week, and brought it to a vote on the Senate floor today. The legislation, however, failed to clear the procedural vote to advance. The Senate needed 60 votes to break filibuster, and all Republican senators except for Senator Rand Paul voted “yes.” That means every single Democrat senator voted “no” on a relief package vote, and therefore, killed the bill.
On the Senate floor before the vote, McConnell said, “Working families have suffered and waited and wondered whether Washington Democrats really care more about hurting President Trump than helping them through this crisis.” Well, after the vote, they got their answer.
Democrats said there were “poison pills” in the package. In particular, liability protection for businesses getting sued over the virus and $5 billion for school choice initiatives. The Democrats disliked that the school choice initiatives would give aid to parents for private schooling. Schumer, however, is not worried about the optics of this vote, and thinks that Mnuchin and Meadows will be forced back to the table because the coronavirus is the number one issue for voters in the upcoming election. The Democrats want larger paychecks for unemployment, more money for state and local governments, rental help, food assistance, and other government programs.
Why this matters: To put the Democrats effort into perspective, the second coronavirus aid package the House passed was the largest spending bill in history. Republicans have made the point that if there is more government assistance, there will be less incentive to work. But for Democrats, they are not concerned about the national debt, and care more about winning November. Schumer’s response is the perfect example of that, and is why many Americans are frustrated with how the Democrats are politicizing the virus for their own political gains.