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Stimulus Bill Fails Second Vote in Senate

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The Senate failed a second time to pass a stimulus package Monday afternoon after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the plan needed to pass today.

Senators fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill. The first vote failed on Sunday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor just after the vote on Monday that there’s “mindless obstruction going on on the other side; while people are losing their jobs and income… [Democrats] are fiddling around with Senate procedure.”

Negotiations are continuing.

The Dow industrials and the S&P 500 closed down around 3% and the Nasdaq was off just 0.27%.

(Related: What to Make of Fed’s ‘QE Infinity’)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC early Monday morning that on top of the major expansion of lending programs announced by the Federal Reserve Board Monday to keep credit markets functioning, Congress needs to approve an additional fiscal stimulus package today.

“Congress needs to approve additional funds today so that we can move forward and support American workers and the American economy,” Mnuchin said during an interview on Jim Cramer’s MadMoney.

“This needs to get passed today,” Mnuchin said.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, stated after the second vote failure that McConnell’s “partisan” coronavirus economic stimulus package failed to garner enough votes to move forward in the Senate.

“This partisan coronavirus stimulus package neglected hospitals, community health centers, health care workers, and first responders; it neglected state and local governments; it neglected our teachers, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers; it neglected small business owners, non-profits, and working class families,” Durbin said.

“After two emergency bills were enacted with strong, bipartisan support, we were all hoping this stimulus package would be the same. But this bill, written by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, broke down when he refused to make it a bipartisan negotiation.”

For small businesses with 500 workers and under, Mnuchin told CNBC there’s “enormous bipartisan support” for a stimulus plan regarding small businesses. “We are providing immediate loans to small businesses,” he said. “We’re working with the SBA; we’re going to make sure that banks can immediately lend money to companies that are 500 [employees] and less that will cover two weeks of payroll and some overhead as long as those companies hire back their workers or keep their workers.”

At the end of that period, Mnuchin added, “we will forgive those loans entirely.”

Mnuchin said that he also “has the IRS working on direct deposits” to put money into hard-working Americans’ pockets. “I expect that money will be out in the next two to three weeks, in peoples’ checking accounts or savings accounts.”

Mnuchin said the amounts would be in the range of “a little over $3,000 for a family of four,” adding that there are some mechanisms and phase outs. “You can think of this as bridge loans to American workers as we set up these other programs.”

Negotiations over a third phase of coronavirus legislation stalled over the weekend. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said Sunday that the bill “included a large corporate bailout with no protections for workers and virtually no oversight. Also very troubling, the bill had significant shortfalls of money that our hospitals, states, cities and medical workers desperately needed. This is a public health crisis, it is inexplicable to skimp on funding to address the pandemic.”

Schumer said that changes to the bill are being made to incorporate the Democrats’ “Workers First” legislation.

Schumer said Sunday afternoon, “Can we overcome the remaining disagreements in the next twenty-four hours? Yes. We can and we should. The nation demands it.”

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