WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked Republicans’ so-called skinny coronavirus relief plan as weeks of gridlock over Congress’ next move continued.
The bill would have included millions in aid for schools, small businesses and to expedite vaccine development, plus extended the federal government’s extra $300 for those receiving unemployment benefits.
“Back to work, back to school, back to child care,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who led the effort, described. “More vaccine development, more manufacturing and more distribution. To have a vaccine and not be to get it out there would be a huge mistake.”
But Democrats called the bill inadequate, slamming Republicans for not including more money for local governments or a second round of direct aid for families.
“Why?” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., demanded. “The economy is still hurting with 30 million-plus Americans out of work.”
He and fellow Illinois Democrat Sen. Tammy Duckworth both voted to block the proposal.
“It’s not a ‘skinny’ bill, it’s an emaciated bill. I couldn’t vote on this,” Duckworth said. “It has nothing in it that will help the American people. It has nothing in it that will help people keep a roof over their heads.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., agreed the bill didn’t do enough, saying Congress’ response should be focused on getting relief to families, but said at least Republicans were trying.
“Something is better than nothing and right now my Democrat colleagues are voting for nothing,” Hawley said.
Democrats have pushed a more than $2 trillion plan already passed by the House of Representatives. With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., saying “we’re in a very sad situation here,” she and fellow Democratic leaders have promised to keep trying to negotiate a compromise.