Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is condemning Democrats after a slimmed-down relief package failed in the Senate last week. Taking to Twitter over the weekend, McConnell accused Democrats of not wanting Americans to get "more help before the election," citing two failed GOP-introduced relief packages.
McConnell's tweet came after the GOP-introduced "skinny" package was brought to the Senate floor for a vote on Thursday. The package needed a total of 60 votes to pass the chamber, though it ultimately failed to move forward in a vote of 52 to 47. Although the vote was mostly split down party lines, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul crossed the aisle to vote with his Democratic counterparts.
Washington Democrats have now blocked two separate proposals to provide hundreds of billions of dollars for safe schools, jobs, and healthcare. They just do not want American families getting more help before the election. Pure cynicism.— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) September 12, 2020
The bill had been a much more stripped back package than previous proposals. With a price tag of just $500 billion, it was half the amount of the GOP's July-introduced proposal, the HEALS Act. That proposal has remained stalled on Capitol Hill, with initial negotiations leading to a deadlock between the White House and top Democrats that eventually collapsed altogether. It was also more than $2.5 trillion shy of the Democratic-backed HEROES Act, which many have pointed out was passed by the House of Representatives in May and has sat on McConnell's desk for more than 100 days, as he has refused to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote.
The proposal had sought to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as well as enhanced unemployment benefits at a rate of $300 per week. It also included funding for schools and childcare and coronavirus testing and vaccine distribution, as well as a provision allowing for liability protections. However, while some of those things were controversial, perhaps most controversial was not what the package included, but what it did not include. The newest GOP proposal failed to include any local and state aid, which Democrats have argued is needed, and despite having established bipartisan support, it did not include a provision allowing for a second stimulus payment, something that drew outrage from the American people on social media.
Currently, the fate of an additional stimulus package remains unclear, though it is seeming more and more likely that further relief will not be passed until after the November election. Although both sides have expressed a desire to pass additional relief, they have been unable to reach an agreement, the biggest threat to a package largely being its price tag, as Republicans wish for a smaller package whereas Democrats believe it needs to have a much wider scope and therefore a much higher price tag.