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Democrats Block Key Vote on $2 Trillion Coronavirus Bill as Senate Floor Erupts with Partisan Anger I6KIB
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    Democrats Block Key Vote on $2 Trillion Coronavirus Bill as Senate Floor Erupts with Partisan Anger

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    PostThe Last Outlaw on Mon Mar 23, 2020 12:08 pm

    Democrats Block Key Vote on $2 Trillion Coronavirus Bill as Senate Floor Erupts with Partisan Anger IlWna

    From The Washington Post

    Erica Werner, Paul Kane, Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post wrote:Democrats blocked a $2 trillion coronavirus rescue bill for the second day in a row Monday, as near-pandemonium erupted on the Senate floor with lawmakers venting fury about their failed efforts to address the pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy.

    Ahead of the vote, Senators clashed angrily over delays that had bogged down the giant bill, reflecting uncertainty about whether Congress would be able to reach a deal later in the day. Some lawmakers had hoped to reach an agreement three days ago, but talks kept breaking down even as they negotiated throughout the weekend.

    The vote was 49-46, far short of the 60 vote threshold needed to advance the legislation for a final debate.

    “This has got to stop and today is the day it has to stop,” an exasperated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor. “The country is out of time.”

    McConnell accused Democrats of holding up the sorely needed rescue package so they can try to add extraneous provisions sought by special interests and organized labor. On Sunday as well Democrats had refused to support the key procedural vote that would have made it easier to pass the bill, with many Democrats complaining that the legislation was tilted too far toward helping corporations and didn’t do enough for health care workers or people who had lost their jobs.

    “Democrats are filibustering programs to keep people on the payroll? And they’re filibustering a huge expansion of unemployment insurance, which they themselves negotiated and put into the bill?,” McConnell said.

    Following McConnell on the floor, Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) insisted he is continuing to negotiate in good faith with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and hopes to secure a deal as long as he can ensure worker protections are included, and that a huge $500 billion fund for industries has appropriate controls.

    “We have an obligation to get the details right, get them done quickly,” Schumer said. “That doesn’t mean blindly accepting a Republican-only bill.”

    As markets fell on Monday, the Senate floor then descended into an uproar as Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) sought recognition to speak, which Schumer objected to, prompting Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to exclaim, “This is bullshit!” and Collins to say, “This is unbelievable.”

    Schumer then argued with Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who was presiding over the Senate, to get recognized and get McConnell to explain the schedule ahead. Once that happened, the Senate agreed to proceed to a repeat of Sunday’s procedural vote, only to have it fail again.

    The fireworks weren’t over on the floor as Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and McConnell got into it, with McConnell lecturing Manchin about Senate process in an unusual exchange.

    Summing it all up was Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.), who took his turn on the Senate floor, shaking his head before declaring: “This country was founded by geniuses but it’s being run by a bunch of idiots.”

    “You know what the American people are thinking right now?” Kennedy inquired rhetorically. “They’re thinking that the brain is an amazing organ. It starts working in a mother’s womb and it doesn’t stop working til you get elected to Congress.”

    The fiery developments reflected what was at stake as well as rising tensions among lawmakers over the nation’s predicament and what’s happening in the Senate itself, where Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced Sunday he has covid-19 and four other GOP senators are quarantined. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) disclosed Monday that her husband, too, is infected with the virus.

    The Dow Jones industrial average has lost more than 10,000 points in six weeks, and several million Americans have already lost their jobs as the economy contracts in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. A growing number of states are directing citizens to stay home to avoid more contagion, putting pressure on businesses who are losing workers and customers.

    Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) advised everyone to “assume the appropriate distance and take a deep breath” and also said the Senate needed to figure out how to vote remotely, something McConnell has opposed. “We should not be physically present on this floor at this moment,” Durbin said.

    The situation was fluid and uncertain, but Mnuchin insisted a deal must be reached Monday on the approximately $2 trillion bill after three days of ultimately unsuccessful efforts.

    “We’re going to get this done today,” Mnuchin said exiting a morning meeting with Schumer. “Everybody is working very hard, so we look forward to a big vote today.”

    Monday’s talks got underway the morning after Senate Democrats voted to block the bill from advancing, infuriating Republicans. Democrats have alleged the bill does too much to help prop up businesses without directing enough money to households, hospitals and health professionals. White House officials have acknowledged the unprecedented assistance the legislation would steer toward corporations, but they have said this money would help protect millions of jobs.

    The legislation aims to flood the economy with money, from individuals to small businesses to large industries amid a wave of layoffs and a sharp contraction in consumer spending. It would direct $1,200 to most adults and $500 to most children. It would also create a $500 billion lending program for businesses, cities and states and another $350 billion to help small businesses meet payroll costs.

    Senators have been trying unsuccessfully to reach a deal since McConnell released the sweeping legislation Thursday night. One deadline after another has been missed.

    Democratic concerns have focused on a $500 billion funding program for loans and loan guarantees Republicans want to create, which some Democrats are labeling a “slush fund” because the Treasury Department would have broad discretion over who receives the money. There is little precedent for a program with a similar size and scope.

    The bill also contains provisions to send $1,200 checks to many Americans and make $350 billion available to small businesses as they struggle to stay afloat with many workers and consumers confined to their homes to avoid contracting or spreading the coronavirus.

    With more than 35,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, the impacts of the crisis were growing worse and worse.

    “Why would the Democrats hold it up in a moment of time that more people are getting sick?” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on FOX News on Monday. “The continuity of government you want to keep together and we will, but what’s more important, the millions of Americans out there that need our help today.”

    Democrats have complained the bill assembled by Senate Republicans gives too many benefits to corporations with little oversight of how the money is spent. Trump on Sunday seemed to acknowledge Democrats’ concerns, while insisting he did not want to offer bailouts.

    “I don’t want to give a bailout to a company and then have somebody go out and use that money to buy back stock in the company and raise the price and then get a bonus,” Trump said Sunday at the White House. “So I may be Republican, but I don’t like that. I want them to use the money for the workers.”

    The bill includes massive funding streams for households, with payments scaling back for those with incomes of $75,000 and above. But many other parts of the bill are meant to address problems flagged by companies, many of whom have said they will be forced to scale back much of their operations if they don’t receive aid soon.

    It also would create tremendous assistance for businesses, large and small. The $500 billion in loan programs includes $425 billion for companies, states and cities, though it doesn’t prescribe many terms to dictate how Treasury determines who receives the assistance. Another $50 billion would go to helping passenger airline companies, $8 billion for cargo air companies and $17 billion to help firms deemed important for national security. And there would be an additional $350 billion in loan guarantees for small businesses to help them avoid layoffs, and many of those loans could be forgiven if firms meet certain metrics.

    Mnuchin said the sweeping economic package is designed to last for 10 to 12 weeks, and the administration would revisit whether it would seek additional assistance from Congress.

    Democrats have argued that without protections for workers, companies receiving bailout money could fire their employees and pocket the taxpayer assistance, which would undermine the purpose of the federal aid. Republicans have said the program needs to be up and running immediately to help the economy before it is too late.

    The partisan friction on Capitol Hill partly results from lingering resentments among Senate Republicans over the last coronavirus relief bill, a $100-billion-plus package enacted last week and negotiated between Pelosi and Mnuchin. Many Senate Republicans were unhappy with paid sick leave provisions in that bill but voted for it anyway.

    The enormous package being negotiated is Congress’s third coronavirus relief bill. The first one, which became law earlier this month, appropriated $8.3 billion for the public health system, vaccine development and other needs.

    I had to check twice to make it it wasn't snowing right now, before I typed these words. I hardly ever get to do this, but right now, I agree with some Republican lawmakers... including one expletive-laced comment.

    Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) -- Senate Majority Leader wrote:This has got to stop and today is the day it has to stop. The country is out of time.

    Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) wrote:This is bulls**t!

    Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) wrote:This is unbelievable.

    I will end with this:

    Senator Joe Neely Kennedy (R-Louisiana) wrote:This country was founded by geniuses but it’s being run by a bunch of idiots. You know what the American people are thinking right now? They’re thinking that the brain is an amazing organ. It starts working in a mother’s womb and it doesn’t stop working til you get elected to Congress.

    Well said, Senator Kennedy. Well Said.

    Just Saying.
    Democrats Block Key Vote on $2 Trillion Coronavirus Bill as Senate Floor Erupts with Partisan Anger I6goy

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    Kyng
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    PostKyng on Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:32 pm

    Wow, this is sad to see >_< .

    Time to put the country first, in my opinion... partisan disagreements can be resolved later.
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    PostThe Last Outlaw on Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:42 pm

    @Kyng wrote:Wow, this is sad to see >_< .

    Time to put the country first, in my opinion... partisan disagreements can be resolved later.

    You're so right. If only both side could see it that way...

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