Stock photo of U.S. Capitol Source: Adobe Stock

The Senate failed Thursday afternoon to get the 60 votes needed to move ahead on Republicans’ new “targeted” COVID-19 relief bill in a 52-47 vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in introducing the bill Tuesday that it focused on “some of the very most urgent health care, education and economic issues.”

After the Thursday afternoon vote, McConnell tweeted: “Every Senate Democrat just voted against hundreds of billions of dollars of COVID-19 relief. They blocked money for schools, testing, vaccines, unemployment insurance, and the Paycheck Protection Program. Their goal is clear: No help for American families before the election.”

In comments before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that the Senate “will take a rather pointless vote on the latest, highly partisan Republican, emaciated COVID-relief bill.”

McConnell “claims that his bill is an attempt at a bipartisan solution,” Schumer continued. “But, of course, the bill was drafted solely by Republicans — no input from Democrats — and rushed to the floor.”

Election ‘Wild Card’

Andy Friedman, founder and principal of The Washington Update, told ThinkAdvisor Thursday that “reaching agreement on a bill will be tough,” as “the closer we get to the election, the (even) more partisan the negotiations become.”

The “wild card,” Friedman added, “is that the president believes that a strong economy will improve his chances of winning the election, and he might push the Senate Republicans to agree to legislation that provides additional economic stimulus.”

In comments made before the vote, McConnell argued that the $1 trillion GOP bill would extend the federal unemployment insurance by $300 per week. “Will Democrats proudly vote against that?” he asked. The bill, he continued, also includes “a whole second round” of the Paycheck Protection Loans for hard-hit businesses. “Will Democrats vote against that?”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said during a Wednesday afternoon press briefing that for more than three months McConnell “has ignored the proposal that the Democrats passed through the House and have offered here in the Senate.”

The GOP bill, Warren said, doesn’t include “a single penny to help tenants — people who are being moved out of their homes from evictions at a time when we are in the middle of a pandemic. There is no help to feed hungry families.

“There is no help for state and local governments — state and local government that’s trying to support our schools, that’s trying to support public safety, that’s trying to support public health,” she continued. “There’s not enough help for schools that are trying to find a way to reopen safely. There is not enough help for safe elections. We’re bearing down on Nov. 3.”