Senate gridlocks again as Democrats block GOP virus aid bill

With less than two weeks until the elections, the Senate stayed in its partisan corners on Wednesday over extra Coronavirus relief for businesses and individuals hit by the virus out break, as Democrats for a second straight day blocked a smaller GOP aid proposal, with both sides pointing fingers over who is to blame.

“Isn’t something better than nothing?” asked Sen. John Thune (R-SD). “For the Democrats, apparently the answer is no.”

“Our bill is the only option that can pass right now,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). “But the Democrats continue to argue that doing nothing is better than something.”

“Once again the Republican majority will bring up a bill that’s designed to fail,” countered Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.

“So, it’s not Democrats who are blocking a real relief bill,” Schumer added. “Everyone knows that.”

The latest GOP plan was a $500 billion ‘skinny’ relief bill - much smaller than a plan in the range of $2 trillion being discussed by House Democrats and the White House.

60 votes were needed to force the start of debate on the GOP plan, but Republicans were only able to must a bare majority in a 51-44 tally.

Among the highlights, the GOP package had $105 billion to help schools re-open and deal with the virus outbreak, $30 billion for additional work on a vaccine, and another $16 billion for virus testing.

“Republican Senators are playing political stunts,” Schumer said.

“Today, Democrats will either vote to advance it, or vote to kill it,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been cool to the idea of a large package of aid.

The votes of the past two days likely mean no action will be taken by the Congress on aid relief until after the elections.

Jamie Dupree, CMG Washington News Bureau

Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau