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Another Senate vote on a pandemic stimulus bill has failed.
The Wednesday vote on the Republican crafted bill, which included about $500 billion in aid, ended up breaking along party lines, 51-44, and falling short of the 60 votes needed for the legislation to advance.
Rather, it was the latest version of a narrow bill that Senate Republicans have offered to demonstrate that they are working on stimulus — and to argue that Democrats are the ones obstructing its progress for voting it down.
In reality, Senate Republicans are the ones who could be the roadblock to a deal: As Democrats and the White House have engaged in negotiations, McConnell has been far less involved — while repeatedly emphasizing that many of his members aren’t interested in more comprehensive aid.
This week, McConnell made his own opposition to a White House-Democratic deal explicit: He told Senate Republicans that he’s urged the White House not to make a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prior to the election, the New York Times reports.
McConnell, too, has expressed concerns about a vote on a stimulus deal interfering with the time table for the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, the Times reports.
The bill that Senate Republicans put on the floor this week was much less generous than what Democrats and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is leading negotiations for the White House, have been discussing.
The $500 billion covers funding for expanded unemployment insurance, school reopenings, and coronavirus testing — but does not include another round of stimulus checks or state and local support.
Ahead of November’s elections, this vote will give vulnerable lawmakers something to point toward as evidence that the GOP is focused on helping people weather the ongoing economic devastation of the pandemic, despite the party’s ongoing refusals to consider the broad stimulus packages that have been passed by Democrats in the House of Representatives.
House Democrats have said they want a more comprehensive measure that closely resembles the revised HEROES Act that was passed in October, which included $2.
If they do get a compromise, there’s another open question of how Senate Republicans would handle it, since McConnell has already expressed his misgivings.
Previously, he’s said the Senate would “consider” a coronavirus deal if one was reached — but he’s been unclear about the timing on a potential vote.
And even if Pelosi and Mnuchin’s coronavirus deal were to get a Senate vote, it might not receive the 60 votes it needs to pass.
Because of the current breakdown in the upper chamber, Democrats would need 13 Republicans to cross over and support the agreement in order for it to pass the Senate, something that is not guaranteed.
There’s also the political backdrop of the 2020 election: If the Senate shoots down a deal, that could have negative implications for vulnerable Republican lawmakers, particularly those in need of support from independent voters.
However, if a deal were to pass the Senate, Pelosi could also be viewed as handing Trump a win shortly ahead of November 3 — which could give the president a possible boost.