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Senate Democrats Block Massive Coronavirus Stimulus Bill

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) heads to a meeting with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 22, 2020. (Mary F. Calvert/Reuters)

Senate Democrats blocked a massive emergency coronavirus funding package from moving forward Sunday evening on the grounds that the package favored corporations over working Americans.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer rallied his caucus against a procedural vote that would have fast-tracked the legislation by placing a time limit on debate and forcing the vote. The cloture vote, which requires the support of 60 senators to pass, failed 47-to-47 along partisan lines.

“I think there’s a good chance we’ll have an agreement. But we don’t need artificial deadlines. We will get this done. We will come in at noon and hopefully we will have an agreement by then,” Schumer said.

Democrats argue that the Republican stimulus bill favors corporations over working Americans, citing the $75 billion that would be allocated to bail out distressed companies, particularly in the travel in hospitality industries. Republicans have responded by slamming Democrats for standing in the way of the swift action needed to prevent more Americans from losing their jobs.

“The American people are watching this spectacle. I’m told the futures market is down 5 percent. I’m also told that’s when trading stops. So the notion that we have time to play games here with the American economy and the American people is utterly absurd,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, visibly frustrated, from the Senate floor.

The bill would be the third coronavirus stimulus bill, and the most expensive so far. A new Senate vote is now expected at 1pm.

Five Republican senators are currently self-quarantined, including Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who announced Sunday that he tested positive for coronavirus. Their absence reduces the GOP majority to a mere one vote advantage.

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