CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Senate failed to move forward on a third coronavirus bill, as Democrats united in rejecting the economic package.
The 47-47 vote Sunday followed negotiations between Republican and Democratic congressional leaders throughout the weekend, which left Democrats unhappy about what their Republican colleagues offered. Sixty votes were needed to move the legislation forward.
Six senators were absent from the vote, including Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, who tested positive for the coronavirus, and four other Republicans in self-quarantine.
The legislation would provide cash payments to individuals and families, financial assistance for small businesses, and aid to corporations. Other provisions include billions of dollars to hospitals and a boost to unemployment benefits.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., voted to invoke cloture.
“I’m beyond frustrated Senate Democrats’ refused to move forward on relief for the American people,” she said on social media. “Let’s be clear: tonight’s vote was a procedural one, one that still allowed for bill language negotiations to continue. Senate Democrats have been working with us on this all weekend!”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told reporters before the vote the package did not protect health care workers or prioritize individuals who lost their job because of the pandemic.
“Those are the people on the front line that are most affected by the economic downturn,” he said. “There’s a ripple effect through our whole economy, but you better take care of the people on the front line who had no control over this.”
Manchin said last week he wanted individuals and small businesses to have access to financial resources before corporations. He added Sunday that Americans also want to make sure they cannot contract the virus.
“You can throw all the money you want at Wall Street. You can try to bail out everybody you want to bail out … but the confidence in the American people will not change until we find treatment for this virus,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., chided Democrats for not agreeing to invoke cloture.
“The notion that we have time to play games here with the American economy and the American people is utterly absurd,” he said.
McConnell added: “The American people expect us to act tomorrow, and I want everybody to fully understand if we aren’t able to act tomorrow, it’ll be because of our colleagues on the other side continuing to dicker when the country expects us to come together and address this problem.”
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives took part in a district work period last week. Meetings are scheduled to resume Monday.