Additional federal help is not on the way as America continues to battle an ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Many U.S. senators, including Bob Menendez of New Jersey, voted against a Republican-led stimulus proposal Thursday.
“While Senate Democrats made our priorities clear and stood ready to negotiate,” Menendez said Thursday in a press statement, “the Republican majority wasted months and refused to meaningfully engage. Now they have offered a sham plan that fails American families and fails to seriously address the health and economic crises our country is facing.”
Menendez and his Democratic colleagues banded together to block a “skinny” GOP proposal that called for COVID-19 liability protections, continued relief for small businesses, public health enhancements and educational support financed by approximately $300 billion in new spending.
The GOP legislation, also known as the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, failed to get 60 votes needed to advance in the U.S. Senate under a 52-47 vote. One Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, joined Democrats in opposing the GOP stimulus plan.
“This wasn’t a serious proposal and Americans deserve better than this,” Menendez said in his statement, citing how the bill would cut the elapsed $600-a-week in enhanced federal unemployment benefits by half and provide zero direct assistance to help state and local governments during this virus-induced recession.
The senior U.S. senator from New Jersey further blasted the GOP stimulus bill for the following additional reasons: “It completely ignores the threat of families losing their homes to foreclosure or eviction, doesn’t provide nearly enough funding to ensure all our schools can safely reopen, and provides no additional funding to prevent people from going hungry or to help keep public transportation moving. It omits worker protections and provides no hazard pay for those working on the frontlines. It provides no funding for nursing homes, hospitals, and community health centers. It fails to include any new funding to safeguard the November election, ensure an accurate census, or provide the support necessary to maintain the U.S. Postal Service.”
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have advocated $2.2 trillion in new stimulus spending, if not $3 trillion to address the economic and public health crises sparked by the deadly respiratory disease.
“I’m ready to vote for a comprehensive, bipartisan bill that provides real solutions to the very real problems we face as a nation, but this bill was designed to fail,” Menendez said Thursday after voting against the scaled-down GOP stimulus plan. “It’s time Republicans get serious about helping the unemployed, teachers and students, small business owners, and seniors struggling to put food on the table. My Democratic colleagues and I have offered sensible, pragmatic solutions — many with broad bipartisan support — and I call on Sen. McConnell to bring these proposals to the Senate Floor for a vote. It’s time we put hardworking families ahead of petty election-year politics.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed the other party for preventing additional federal relief from moving forward.
“Every Senate Democrat just voted against hundreds of billions of dollars of COVID-19 relief,” he said Thursday in a tweet. “They blocked money for schools, testing, vaccines, unemployment insurance, and the Paycheck Protection Program. Their goal is clear: No help for American families before the election.”