September 10, 2020
Republicans 'targeted' pandemic relief bill fails to advance in Senate, 52-47
McConnell accuses Democrats of blocking any coronavirus relief before election
The Senate on September 10 failed to advance a $500 billion "targeted" bill (S. 178) assembled by the Republican leadership, with a package of provisions providing economic stimulus and relief from the coronavirus pandemic, among other provisions. The vote to invoke cloture on the bill, thus ending debate, was 52-47 with 60 votes required for passage. All the chamber's Democrats and Independents in attendance voted against cloture, while all Republicans supported it except for Rand Paul (R-KY). Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), the Democratic vice presidential nominee, did not vote.
The vote leaves negotiations over the next pandemic relief bill at another impasse, with little progress reported between the White House and House Democrats since talks began in late July. Senate Republicans intended for the vote to show a unified position in favor of some action, given that a previous $1 trillion package of Senate GOP coronavirus-related bills (the HEALS Act) never came to the floor and reportedly faced opposition from as many as 20 Senate Republicans. House Democrats have pressed for passage of the House-passed $3.4 trillion HEROES Act, with their latest offer insisting on at least $2.2 trillion. The White House most recently signaled it might support a bill with a ceiling of $1.5 trillion.
The vote on the floor was specifically to invoke cloture on the motion to concur in the House amendment to S. 178 with amendment No. 2652.
On the Senate floor before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, "Should we at least vote to move forward and have this debate out in the open, or do our Democratic colleagues prefer to hide behind closed doors and refuse to help families before the election?" McConnell suggested that "Washington Democrats really care more about hurting President Trump than helping them through this crisis," and after the vote he tweeted, "Every Senate Democrat just voted against hundreds of billions of dollars of COVID-19 relief. They blocked money for schools, testing, vaccines, unemployment insurance, and the Paycheck Protection Program. Their goal is clear: No help for American families before the election."
For his part, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the floor that S. 178 did not include a number of items Democrats consider essential, such as housing assistance, nutrition assistance, aid to state and local governments, and funding to build out broadband networks. The bill "is one of the most cynical moves I've seen, a fairly transparent attempt to show that the Republicans are doing something, when in fact they want to do nothing," he said.
S. 178 includes these items among other provisions:
Washington Council EY distributed an alert earlier this week summarizing the bill.