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The Senate on Thursday voted 52-47 to block a $500 billion stimulus package proposed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), likely ending hopes that such a deal might pass before the November election.
“My home state just passed a sad milestone yesterday,” McConnell said in a statement Thursday morning in which he called on Democrats to support his measure. “More than 1,000 Kentuckians have now lost their lives to COVID-19. These families I represent are not burying their loved ones because Republicans or Democrats are the enemy. They are burying their loved ones because of this virus. That’s what we are fighting.”
The measure failed along party lines, with the exception of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who voted against it. Paul had said he was against more spending on federal stimulus measures, though voting against the legislation also enables him to bring the bill up again under the Senate’s procedural rules.
Democrats argued the measure didn’t go far enough to help Americans ailing from economic shutdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic, seeking instead at least four times more in spending than the amount that would have been authorized under the proposal from Senate Republicans.
In more recent days, they also took aim at McConnell’s proposal for including funds for the coal industry, including for the development of coal-mining technology.
“How pathetic,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “While Senate Republicans tell us we can’t afford to give $2,000 a month to the working class during the economic crisis, the COVID-19 ‘relief’ bill they just released provides $161 million in corporate welfare to the coal industry during a climate emergency.”
More than half of the funds authorized by McConnell’s legislation — $258 billion — would have been directed to small businesses to apply for loans under the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program. Other allocations included $31 billion for the development of a coronavirus vaccine; $20 billion for farm aid; $16 billion for coronavirus testing; and $15 billion for child care providers. It would also have authorized a $300 weekly supplemental payment for unemployed Americans through December 27.
House Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) passed a $3.5 trillion stimulus package in the HEROES Act in May. The Senate declined to act on that measure, which included funding for long-time Democratic wishlist items such as billions in federal aid for state and local governments and up to $10,000 in aid for “economically distressed” student-loan borrowers.
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