Democratic senators have blocked a roughly $1 trillion economic stimulus package introduced by Republican lawmakers last week to counteract the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to news reports.
The Republicans had worked out the stimulus package after holding a private meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week. The initiative included loans, direct payments to individuals and added liquidity for small firms.
But a Sunday procedural vote on the proposal, which the Republicans had hoped Democrats would agree to by Monday, was 47-47, which was short of the 60 votes necessary to move forward, CNBC.com reports.
Democrats had already expressed frustration at Republicans working with President Donald Trump’s administration on the proposal without input from them, according to the TV news channel’s website. Democrats also took issue with several provisions, including the $500 billion fund for support severely distressed businesses, which included $58 billion for airlines, according to a draft bill obtained by CNBC. At the same time, the Democrats slammed the lack of protections for workers and aid to hospitals in the Republicans’ proposal, the website writes.
“In the midst of an unprecedented national crisis, Republicans can’t seriously expect us to tell people in our communities who are suffering that we shortchanged hospitals, students, workers, and small businesses but gave big corporations hundreds of billions of dollars in a secretive slush fund,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., according to CNBC.com.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., however, said the Democrats were thwarting efforts to respond to the coronavirus crisis, the website writes.
“We’re fiddling with the emotions of the American people, fiddling with the markets, fiddling with our health care,” he said, according to CNBC.com. “Step up.”
The coronavirus has infected close to 338,000 people in 192 countries and territories and caused the deaths of at least 14,651 as of Monday morning, according to Reuters.
In the U.S., at least 33,018 people have tested positive for the virus and 428 have died, according to the New York Times.
New York state has been the hardest hit, with 15,168 confirmed cases and 122 deaths as of Monday morning, the newspaper reports.
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