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MNI POLICY: Senate Republican Stimulus Fails Procedural Vote

Prospects appear to be fading for a coronavirus relief bill before Nov. 3 elections.

(MNI) WASHINGTON
WASHINGTON (MNI)

The U.S. Senate failed to pass a slimmed-down Republican fiscal proposal on Thursday that would stimulate an ailing economy.

All Democrats who were present and one Republican, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, opposed the "skinny" stimulus in a 52-47 vote.

The failure to reach cloture, a three-fifths vote threshold needed in the 100-member Senate chamber to limit debate and advance the bill, leaves lawmakers increasingly likely to wrap up their work within the next couple weeks in Washington so they can return to their home states to campaign for congressional and presidential elections on Nov. 3.

The pared-back Republican proposal, released Tuesday afternoon, is estimated to be worth USD700 billion, with some of that covered by unspent funds allocated to support 13(3) Federal Reserve facilities. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has not yet estimated a cost.

The bill would provide a USD300-per-week unemployment benefit enhancement, USD105 billion for schools, a USD10 billion grant to the U.S. Postal Service, USD258 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, USD47 billion for vaccines and testing needs, and liability protections for employers.

Senate Democrats called it inadequate because it did not include USD1,200 direct checks to Americans, state and local government relief, and food assistance, among other measures.

"It is beyond insufficient. It is completely inadequate," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, said of the Republican plan earlier Thursday.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill in May that would provide another USD3.4 trillion in aid, but gridlock has since prevailed on a fifth injection of relief to the economy.

The White House and congressional Democrats have been more than USD1 trillion apart on the stimulus since negotiations broke off Aug. 7. Democrats lowered their demand from USD3.4 trillion to USD2.2 trillion, but haven't budged beyond that, and the White House remains at USD1.3 trillion, according to chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Some Republican senators expressed doubts this week that a compromise coronavirus bill would emerge quickly after the "skinny" bill was rejected on Thursday in the Republican-controlled chamber.

"There's always some possibility," Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, told reporters. "Unless something really broke through, it's not going to happen."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held some hope on Thursday telling reporters that she is hopeful Congress can pass another bill before Election Day on Nov. 3.

Asked about whether another relief bill would come together, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday responded: "I don't know. We'll see. I hope there is. It's important to a lot of people out there."

MNI Washington Bureau | +1 202-371-2121 | evan.ryser@marketnews.com
MNI Washington Bureau | +1 202-371-2121 | evan.ryser@marketnews.com

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