Senate Democrats have slammed the brakes on a massive coronavirus stimulus bill yet again. The measure failed a procedural vote Monday afternoon for a second time. Tensions are high on the Senate floor and lawmakers are clashing.
On Sunday, an initial procedural vote failed to garner enough votes to advance the legislation. Republicans needed 60 votes to move the bill forward but got only 47.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security — or CARES Act — aims to bolster the economy and jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Lawmakers are at odds over several issues, including worker protections, unemployment insurance and how to keep businesses and companies afloat. Democrats say the relief package does more for big business than it does for workers and health care providers.
Sen. Christopher Murphy said: "It may make a lot of people rich, but it doesn't have the resources in it today to take care of the most vulnerable in this country, and it's not going to do the primary job at hand, which is to stop the virus. ... Remember, there's no amount of economic stimulus that can pass – $1 trillion, $2 trillions, $3 trillion – if we don't get serious about the public health crisis that exists today."
And some Republicans have accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of disrupting the process. Sen. John Thune said there had been "great bipartisan cooperation", but then Pelosi "showed up with an agenda."
Thune said: "There's $500 billion to keep businesses afloat that are failing, and they are failing by the day and shedding jobs by the day. And these aren't grants, although the Democrats did want grants, I might add, these are loans. These have to be paid back. They all hire millions of employees in this country so, yes, we probably need to do something to help businesses in this country so they can keep working and keep their employees working."
The bill, if it passes, will head to the House, which is working on its own economic aid measure. On Monday, lawmakers there introduced a bill that would forgive $30,000 in student loan debt per borrower amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Contains footage from CNN.