After tumult, Senate inches closer to coronavirus deal

Bipartisan divide narrows in negotiations between Democrats and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

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Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill
(SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Updated: March 23, 2020 - 11:26pm

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After angry insults and failed votes, the Senate inched closer Monday night to deal on an estimated $1.8 trillion coronavirus recovery package that could provide everyday Americans with instant income to weather the economic storm.

After extensive negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer told his colleagues on the Senate floor that a deal was near. "We have had some very good discussions, and in fact the list of outstanding issues has narrowed significantly," he said,

Negotiators planned to work through the night to iron out remaining stumbling blocks, which included limits on stock buybacks and executive compensation inside companies that receive aid.

Earlier in the day, Senate Democrats again voted down a procedural motion to advance an estimated $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Republican leaders of the GOP-controlled chamber failed to get the 60 votes needed to begin debate on the measure. The vote was 49-46.

The spending bill, to help the country survive the severe economic impact of the coronavirus, on Sunday night failed on the same procedural vote.  

The failed vote has resulted in Democrats and Republicans blaming each other, with the virus rapidly spreading and threatening to inflict severe damage on the U.S. economy – from large-scale unemployment to a recession to businesses across the country shuttering. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after the Sunday vote pointed his finger at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“The House speaker showed up, and we’re back to square one,” the Kentucky Republican said.

Pelosi said that the Democrat-controlled House has its own spending package.

Senators stayed on Capitol Hill over the weekend to pass the measure. The House returns Monday to vote. 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has represented the White House in negotiations and as an unofficial go-between among party leaders.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said overnight that he and fellow Democrats didn’t provide McConnell with enough votes to pass the bill in large part because, he argued, the money to help corporations doesn’t have enough restrictions and because of a lack of money for state and local governments.

The spending measure – projected at more than $1.5 trillion – failed Sunday on a 47-47 vote. Five GOP senators are in coronavirus quarantine, making passage of the bill even more difficult for McConnell.

 

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