US Senate doesn’t move forward with ‘skinny’ coronavirus bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Senate was unable to move forward with a “skinny” coronavirus relief measure on Thursday as not enough lawmakers voted to end debate on the $500 billion bill.

The chamber voted 52-47, with the vote split between the Republican and Democratic caucuses. Sixty senators had to vote to invoke cloture for the bill to advance.

The proposal would have allocated funding for schools and coronavirus response efforts, extended additional federal unemployment benefits and provided more money for the Paycheck Protection Program.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., cast blame on the other’s party following the vote.

“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,” McConnell tweeted.

“Their goal is clear: No help for American families before the election.”

Schumer urged Republican legislators to collaborate with Democrats on a legislative package.

“The cynical Republican bill was emaciated, inadequate, and designed to fail. Americans need help now, and Congress needs to respond in a way that meets the nation’s very real and urgent needs,” he said.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., previously criticized McConnell for allowing the Senate to continue with the chamber’s August recess; legislators were back in their home states from Aug. 10 until Tuesday.

“If I hadn’t held out the last time Mitch McConnell tried to ram through a COVID bill, West Virginia wouldn’t have $1.25 billion in state and local funding,” Manchin said in a statement on Thursday. “The easy thing to do would be to vote ‘yes,’ but the right thing to do is to put politics aside and do our job.”

Manchin added senators need to work together on legislation, noting the $2 trillion relief measure enacted in March.

“With today’s partisan vote failing, I am hopeful we can immediately come together to pass a bill that helps the West Virginians who need it like we did six months ago on March 27th,” he said.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said on Wednesday’s “MetroNews Talkline” that Congress needs to pass legislation targeting areas most impacted by the pandemic.

“Let me be clear: had today’s vote passed, we would have moved forward with a package that provides significant relief funds and relief for families, medical providers, small businesses, workers, and more,” she said Thursday.

“The goal is to find agreement where we can and deliver this immediate relief to Americans who need it now, and that’s what this package would have accomplished. I will continue working toward a bipartisan agreement that will allow us to pass similar legislation soon, and I urge my colleagues to put politics aside and do the same.”

The House of Representatives in May passed a $3.4 trillion measure, which would extend a hold on some evictions and foreclosures as well as provide funding for nationwide coronavirus testing.

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