The Republican-led $500 billion stimulus package has been blocked by senate Democrats due to concerns that it shortchanges too many important matters amid the pandemic. Fortune reports that the stimulus package received 52 votes in favor and 47 opposed votes from Democrats and Kentucky's Rand Paul. In order to progress, the bill needed 60 votes in favor.
The bill was initially scaled back from previous proposals Republicans had made, but it would have provided $250 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans to Americans. Additionally, as part of the package there would be an investment of $50 billion toward COVID-19 testing and vaccine development, $100 billion for schools, and $10 billion to the United States Postal Service as part of a loan-forgiving situation. Lastly, the bill would have reserved funding for $300 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits through Dec. 27.
The reasons behind blocking the bill, for many Democrats, were concerns that the package did not include funding for additional $1,200 stimulus checks. Republican and Democratic leaders have supported the idea of further stimulus checks in the past, but somewhere down the line more Republicans have seemingly brushed past the issue. The majority of Democrats in the Senate are looking for a package closer to $1 trillion, hoping the funding will save public sectors from suffering too many layoffs.
"Today every senator will either say they want to send families the relief we can agree to or they can send families nothing," said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, called Republicans "so out of touch" over the package, ABC 7 reports.
One major concern for some, however, is that the $300 enhanced unemployment benefits are set to run out by the end of September. Funding has already been depleted in Texas, for instance. It remains to be seen if an agreement will be made before the election regarding a relief package.