For the second time in less than 24 hours, a largely united Senate Democratic caucus on Monday stopped Republicans from advancing a nearly $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that progressives have characterized as a massive bailout for corporate America that leaves ordinary people out to dry.
"Republicans' priority is giving no-strings-attached bailouts to industry, and letting the virus spread by shortchanging healthcare providers and states. That's a recipe for disaster."
—Sen. Chris Murphy
The procedural motion on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—which one Senate Democrat derided as a "show vote"—failed by a margin of 49-46 with just one Democrat, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), joining Republicans in voting yes.
Robert Reich, the former secretary of labor, urged the U.S. public to not "listen to the pundits trying to spin" the vote as a bad move by Democrats in the midst of a global health crisis.
"Senate Dems were right to reject this corporate bailout," tweeted Reich.
The GOP bill:
—Creates a $500B slush fund for corporations that Mnuchin has complete control over
—Provides only a 1-time $1200 check & just $600 for those who need it most
Don't listen to the pundits trying to spin this. Senate Dems were right to reject this corporate bailout. https://t.co/nRxy6KlXPl
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) March 23, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who was quick to blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the failed vote Sunday night, reacted angrily to the second consecutive procedural failure on Monday, accusing Democrats of "filibustering programs to keep people on the payroll."
Senate Democrats—joining progressive advocacy groups, unions, and others—have criticized the CARES Act as a business-friendly measure that would establish a $500 billion "slush fund" for big corporations while doing little to protect workers or provide much-needed economic relief to the public. As an alternative to the GOP's measure, progressives are demanding a stimulus package that centers the needs of workers and the most vulnerable.
Reading the Republican coronavirus bill, you'd think the most important people in America are corporate CEOs. That is wrong.
Our essential workers include:
Delivery and warehouse workers
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— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 23, 2020
"Republicans' priority is giving no-strings-attached bailouts to industry, and letting the virus spread by shortchanging healthcare providers and states," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted following the vote Monday. "That's a recipe for disaster. Why on earth would ANYONE support that? Let's write a bill that stops the virus."
In a speech from the Senate floor ahead of the vote, Murphy further explained his opposition to the Republican measure.
"We don't think your bill works. We don't think that the bill that has been drafted by the majority party is going to fix the problem," said Murphy. "It may make a lot of people rich, but it doesn't have the resources in it today to take care of the most vulnerable in this country, and it's not going to do the primary job at hand, which is to stop the virus."
Thank you @ChrisMurphyCT and all of the Democratic Senators for calling out the GOP package for what it is - a corporate bailout that leaves Americans behind.
"It doesn't have the resources in it today to take care of the most vulnerable in this country." pic.twitter.com/PR6qmNNkqC
— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam) March 23, 2020
Senate Democratic leaders are expected to continue negotiating with the Trump administration over the specifics of the sweeping stimulus measure. Meanwhile, House Democrats are expected to unveil their own legislation in the coming days.
"We have an obligation to get the details right, get them done quickly," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a speech on the Senate floor. "That doesn't mean blindly accepting a Republican-only bill."