Slimmed down GOP virus aid bill goes nowhere in Senate

Almost four months after Democrats in the House approved a $3 trilion Coronavirus relief measure, the Senate on Thursday refused to take up a much smaller GOP aid bill which was just unveiled earlier this week, as partisan recriminations echoed yet again through the halls of the U.S. Capitol over who was to blame for the inaction.

“They want to do nothing,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer of Republicans, blaming the GOP for waiting months to bring a ‘skinny’ relief proposal to the Senate floor, one which he derided as ‘insufficient and inadequate.’

Republicans returned the favor, saying the voters should punish Democrats for the lack of compromise on Coronavirus relief, as Democrats voted in unison against starting debate on the GOP package.

“They can tell American families they care more about politics than helping them,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Even Republicans who voted to start debate on the new GOP plan were less than enthusiastic about the details, but argued it was important to move forward.

“I think every one of us would agree it doesn’t have everything that we would like,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

Despite skepticism about extra spending from conservatives, only one Republican - Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky - refused to go along with the new GOP plan, as he voted with Democrats to block the start of debate.

The vote was 52 to 47 in favor of starting debate - but 60 votes were needed.

The only Senator to miss the vote was Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) - Joe Biden’s running mate. She was campaigning in Florida.

“Democrats continue to play politics with this critical bill that will help put the disease in the rear view mirror,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).

Among the provisions in the GOP bill:

+ Extra PPP money for small businesses.

+ $105 billion to help schools with the Coronavirus.

+ $31 billion for vaccine development.

+ $16 billion in contact tracing funding.

+ Provisions which bar lawsuits against schools, churches, and employers over the virus.

Jamie Dupree, CMG Washington News Bureau

Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau