The U.S. Senate on Thursday killed a Republican bill that would have provided around $300 billion in new coronavirus aid, as Democrats seeking far more funding prevented it from advancing, Reuters writes.
By a vote of 52-47, the Senate failed to get the 60 votes needed in the 100-member chamber to advance the partisan bill toward passage, leaving the future of any new coronavirus aid in doubt.
“It’s a sort of a dead-end street,” Republican Senator Pat Roberts told reporters following the vote.
“Along with a pandemic – the COVID-19 – we have a pandemic of politics” in Congress, he added.
Senator Rand Paul, who opposed the deficit spending in the bill, was the lone Republican to vote no. Democratic leaders in Congress have been pushing for a far more vigorous response: around $3 trillion in new funding amid the continuing pandemic.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who spearheaded the Republican bill that failed, had offered a more expansive, $1 trillion coronavirus measure in July. Amid strong opposition from Democrats and many Republicans, he was unable to even stage a vote on that proposal.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters before the failed Senate vote on Thursday that she thought negotiations could still produce a compromise before the Nov. 3 presidential and congressional elections.
But, following the vote, several Republican senators were skeptical.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said some jobs gains and early signs of progress against the coronavirus had left him less worried than before.
So far, the coronavirus has led to the deaths of nearly 191,000 people in the United States and over 900,000 globally.
The medical community and politicians are hoping the development of a vaccine will finally tame the outbreak after months of Washington failing to do so.
Congress is now expected to mainly focus its work on other pressing legislation so members can return to their home states in October to campaign for re-election.