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Sep 10 2020

It’s actually a good thing.

So Corona Aid Lite (the Beer Trademark Police will probably come after me for that) failed Cloture 52 – 47 with Rand Paul as a Republican defector (“It”s too good for them!”) and Democrats unanimously opposed.

It’s a lesson in Minority Rights for one thing, in the majority rule House it would have passed with a 5 vote margin. Be careful what you wish for when you talk about ending the Filibuster. Court Packing on the other hand…

Moscow Mitch’s proposal was incredibly bad for any number of reasons and parsimonious too, a mere $300 Billion. No aid for States that might be forced to cut critical services (Fire Departments, Teachers, Hospitals). Unemployment assistance cut in half and not retroactive. No Stimulus Check.

But they did remember to include Unlimited Liability Protection for Corporations that force you to clean Cesspools of Pus if you get sick. “No one could have imagined.”

Democrats block slimmed-down GOP coronavirus relief bill as hopes fade for any more congressional support
By Erica Werner, Seung Min Kim and Tony Romm, Washington Post
September 10, 2020

Democrats blocked a pared-down GOP coronavirus relief bill in a bitterly disputed Senate vote Thursday, leaving the two parties without a clear path forward to approve new economic stimulus before the November elections.

The vote was 52-47, far short of the 60 votes that would have been needed for the measure to advance. Democrats were united in opposing the legislation; all Republicans voted in favor except Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

For Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), wrangling a majority of the Senate behind the legislation constituted a measure of success, after months when Senate Republicans have been hopelessly divided. But next steps — if any — toward the kind of bipartisan deal that would be needed to actually pass a bill to provide new benefits to the public were unclear.

Negotiations between congressional Democrats and administration officials that collapsed in August have not restarted.

“It’s sort of a dead-end street,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). “Very unfortunate, but it is what it is.”

The GOP bill that was defeated Thursday contained new money for small businesses, coronavirus testing and schools, and $300 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits to replace a $600 weekly benefit that expired July 31 for some 30 million jobless workers. The measure included roughly $650 billion in total spending, but it would repurpose roughly $350 billion in previously approved spending, bringing the tally of new funding to around $300 billion.

The measure did not include a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks for individual Americans, even though that’s something the White House supports. It also excluded any new money for cities and states, a top Democratic priority as municipal governments face the prospect of mass layoffs because of plunging tax revenue. And it contained some conservative priorities that Democrats dismissed as unacceptable “poison pills,” including liability protections for businesses and a tax credit aimed at helping students attend private schools.

One reason the talks in July stalled is because many Republican senators refused to rally around a $1 trillion bill McConnell had tried to advance, weakening the Kentucky Republican’s hand in talks. He instead deferred to the White House to try and broker a deal with Pelosi, but that didn’t advance even to a formal proposal. Before Thursday’s vote, it appeared that a large number of Senate Republicans were reluctant to spend any more money following Congress’s approval of an unprecedented $3 trillion in emergency aid this Spring. But McConnell kept working on a bill as a way to balance the needs of a half-dozen vulnerable GOP incumbents who were eager to vote on new aid for their constituents as they campaign for re-election.

Democrats contended that the Senate GOP legislation, written without any Democratic input, was designed to fail and intended only to give Republicans cover for inaction. Republicans argued Democrats were refusing to agree to any new relief because they didn’t want to help President Trump or bolster the fragile economic recovery ahead of the election.

“Working families have suffered and waited and wondered whether Washington Democrats really care more about hurting President Trump than helping them through this crisis,” McConnell said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote.

McConnell also expressed indignation about a comment made Wednesday by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said that “Republicans are the enemy of the good” when asked whether Democrats had allowed the perfect to become the enemy of the good in coronavirus talks.

“The Americans we represent, however they vote, know that Republicans aren’t our enemies, and Democrats aren’t our enemies,” McConnell said. “The coronavirus is the enemy.”

In his own floor remarks, Schumer kept up his attacks on the GOP legislation and on McConnell, whom he has labeled the “Secretary of Cynicism.” Schumer noted that Republicans waited months to try to restart negotiations after House Democrats passed a sweeping $3.4 trillion bill in May that included generous new benefits for individuals and money for testing and vaccines.

“Republicans dithered and delayed. They pushed their chips in with President Trump’s lot and hoped the virus would miraculously disappear and everything would be all better,” Schumer said.

Schumer said the bill defeated Thursday was “a fairly transparent attempt to show the Republicans are doing something when, in fact, they want to do nothing in reality.”

Nevertheless both Pelosi and Schumer held out hopes that failure of the bill would be followed by a new round of bipartisan negotiations — despite absence of any signs that that is happening.

“I still have some hope once this bill is defeated, if past is prologue, there’s actually a significant chance that the public heat on many Republican senators as they go back home will have them come to their senses, and they’ll start negotiating with us in a serious way,” Schumer said.

Congress does need to take some action this month, to avert a government shutdown when agency-wide funding expires at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Lawmakers are in talks on a short-term spending bill that would extend government spending at existing levels through the election, although they have not yet agreed on how long it will last.

In the absence of new bipartisan talks on a coronavirus relief bill, some senators and aides speculated this week that Congress will move quickly to pass the short-term “continuing resolution” and then adjourn so lawmakers can return home to campaign for re-election.

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