• MLWA 7

GOP’s slimmed-down virus bill scuttled by Senate Democrats



- Washington District of Columbia, USA (AP)


Senate Democrats scuttled a scaled-back GOP coronavirus rescue package on Thursday, saying the measure shortchanged too many pressing needs as the pandemic continues its assault on the country.


The mostly party-line vote capped weeks of wrangling over a fifth relief bill that all sides say they want but are unable to deliver. The bipartisan spirit that powered earlier aid measures has given way to election-season political combat and name-calling. The 52-47 vote fell well short of what was needed to overcome a filibuster and seems likely to end hopes for coronavirus relief before the November election.


The $500 billion measure is roughly half the size of legislation promoted by GOP leaders this summer, but was too big for most conservatives. Instead, the GOP bill was stripped back to focus on school aid, jobless benefits and help for small businesses. That maximized Republican support even as it alienated Democrats, who say such a piecemeal approach would leave out far too many vulnerable people.


The result was a predictable impasse and partisan tit for tat as the congressional session limps to its preelection close. It’s becoming plain that all Congress will do before the Nov. 3 election is pass legislation to avert a government shutdown. The outcome of the election promises to have an outsize impact on what might be possible in a postelection lame-duck session, with Democrats sure to press for a better deal if Democrat Joe Biden unseats President Donald Trump.


Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted that Thursday’s GOP defeat would prompt Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., back to the negotiating table, as an earlier filibuster in March helped make the $2 trillion rescue bill more generous.

“But (Thursday’s) bill is not going to happen because it is so emaciated, so filled with poison pills, so partisanly designed,” Schumer said.