Congress Fails To Reach Deal On $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Bill

Virus Outbreak Congress

The final vote tally was 49-46 in favor, again falling short of the required 60 votes.

Andrew Harnik/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Topline: Following days of heated negotiations on the Senate floor—and a failed vote on Sunday—lawmakers fell short on passing a massive $2 trillion coronavirus relief package on Monday despite mounting pressure on both sides to reach an agreement on one of the biggest pieces of financial legislation ever proposed.

  • In a vote largely along party lines on Monday, the Senate voted 49 to 46—short of the 60 required to pass the legislation—on a massive fiscal stimulus bill worth $2 trillion to stem the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Prior to the vote, Senators clashed in heated exchanges about the delay in reaching an agreement: Democrats have recently criticized the bill for focusing too much on bailing out companies and not doing enough to help workers or provide sufficient funding to hospitals.
  • Among the most controversial measures proposed in the bill is a $500 billion fund designated to help distressed businesses, directly under control of the Treasury Secretary, which Democrats worry will be leveraged to reward companies favored by Trump or his administration.
  • Other items in the bill include direct cash payments of up to $1,200 to struggling Americans, $350 billion in small business loans, $200 billion worth of expanded unemployment benefits and almost $250 billion in money for hospitals.
  • The massive piece of legislation is the third economic relief bill to deal with the coronavirus, following the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, both originally proposed by House Democrats and passed into law earlier this month.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday separately introduced Democrats’ own economic response bill—since the one currently being negotiated initially excluded Democrats, which she said “takes responsibility for the health, wages and well-being of America’s workers.”

Crucial quote: Despite fiery tirades from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)—both before and after the vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY.) said that the two parties were making progress on revisions to the Republicans’ original bill, indicating that an agreement could be reached later in the day. “We’re very close to reaching a deal,” Schumer said, “Our goal is to reach a deal today, and we’re hopeful, even confident that we will meet that goal.”

Chief critics: “The American people don’t want another corporate bailout,” Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said during deliberations on the floor. His colleague, Senator Chris Murphy (D-Ct.), similarly slammed the Republican bill for not providing enough support to states and municipalities battling the coronavirus on the front lines. “We’re about to vote on a bill that is not going to solve the problem,” he angrily said.

Big number: The massive financial stimulus measures currently still under debate dwarf those passed by Congress during the 2008 financial crisis ($700 billion).

Key background: Negotiations on the bill lasted well into last weekend, but neither side could come to a full agreement before Sunday’s vote, which came in at 47-47. Lawmakers continue to be divided along party lines, with the deadline for passing the massive stimulus package again getting pushed back, despite the rising severity of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

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