- The Senate failed to move ahead with the GOP’s $US500 billion stimulus plan in a 52-47 vote.
- Fifty-one Democrats unanimously voted to oppose the plan, along with Republican Sen. Rand Paul who criticised the need for more federal spending.
- The Republican stimulus plan would extend unemployment benefits and inject additional aid to small businesses, but it omits direct payments to individuals.
- The path ahead on a coronavirus relief bill is unclear with prospects of new legislation dimming until after the November election.
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The Senate failed to move forward on a scaled-down stimulus Thursday, further dimming the prospects of Congress passing another coronavirus relief bill ahead of the November elections.
Every Democratic senator opposed the bill in a 52-47 procedural vote. Every Republican senator voted to support it except Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who objected to additional federal spending. It fell short of the 60 votes needed for the legislation to advance.
Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, a vulnerable Democrat up for re-election in November, said he was appalled at “complete lack of leadership when the majority leader here, what he’s done is a disservice to the American people,” referring to Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Top congressional Democrats attacked the slimmed-down Republican proposal. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it “emaciated.”
“The needs must be met,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday. “We need every penny in order to stop this.”
The path ahead on another coronavirus relief bill is unclear with economy displaying signs of significant strain. Around 29 million Americans are on unemployment benefits, per Labour Department data. Permanent layoffs are also mounting as many economists warn of a slowing recovery without additional stimulus spending.
The defeated GOP stimulus plan would have granted a $US300 federal supplement to state unemployment benefits to replace the $US600 weekly benefit that expired at the end of July for millions of unemployed Americans.
It also contained provisions to distribute another round of small business aid, $US105 billion to help schools reopen, a liability shield for businesses to guard them from coronavirus-related lawsuits, and additional public health funding.
The legislation, however, omitted direct payments and aid to cash-strapped states and local governments, both measures included in a $US3.4 trillion economic spending package that House Democrats passed in May.
Democrats have long called for a broader spending package to keep the economy afloat. Negotiations on another relief bill between the White House and top congressional Democrats stalled last month over fierce disagreements over the amount of federal spending.
Democrats lowered their demand to $US2.2 trillion, but Republicans argued that figure was still too large. Many GOP senators have cited the swelling federal debt in their opposition to further stimulus. Talks have not restarted.
Since the spring, lawmakers have pumped over $US3 trillion into every corner of the economy. The largest share came through the CARES Act in March.
Lawmakers are in the midst of talks for a short-term spending bill to keep the government funded after the end of the fiscal year on September 30 and avert a government shutdown. That measure would likely maintain federal spending at current levels until sometime after the election.
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