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Sen. Capito laments Senate failure to move COVID-19 stimulus bill

MORGANTOWN — Shortly before the Monday afternoon vote that once again failed to advance the Senate’s Phase 3 coronavirus stimulus package, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito spoke with the press about the package and issues back in her home state.

The bill contains a bipartisan rescue package, Capito said. “We’re in a crisis. We don’t have any time to waste. … I was really disappointed and perplexed by that.”

News reports indicate that the lead-up to the vote on a procedural move to allow consideration of the bill devolved into bitter partisan bickering.

The first effort to move the bill along failed Sunday 47-47; this one failed 49-46. It needed 60 votes.

Among the items in the bill are: $75 billion for hospitals and other medical providers; a $350 billion loan program, with forgiveness measures, for small businesses; payments to all lower and middle income families of $1,200 per individual, $2,400 per married couple and $500 per child, based on income; 13 additional weeks of unemployment and an additional unemployment benefit of $600 a week; $20 billion for veterans’ healthcare; 20 billion to K-12 and higher education institutions; $400 million for FEMA grants for local governments and first responders; and $100 million to expand broadband deployment in rural areas.

News reports indicated both sides of the aisle were attempting to “Christmas tree” unrelated measure and pet projects into the bill, which contributed to the division.

Among the Democrats’ objections was a $500 billion loan program for big business, which they called corporate welfare. Among the Republicans’ objections were additions for wind and solar and Green New Deal projects.

Capito said, “We’re not all going to agree here on the best package, but this package in my view has everything in it that we need to jumpstart this right away.” The bickering and delay is not good for those relying on the government for help.

Debate will continue and some project it could take several days.

Gov. Jim Justice hadn’t yet issued his executive order for people stay at home and for nonessential businesses to close, but Capito said she would support his efforts to contain the virus.

Justice’s order came in the wake of the positive test of a Sundale nursing home resident in Morgantown — the first instance of “community spread” as opposed to the virus being brought in from out of state.

“I am worried about the community spread,” Capito said. “We have so many vulnerable people in our state. That’s where isolation becomes even more critical.”

One senator and one senator’s husband have tested positive for COVID-19: Rand Paul, R-Ky., has tested positive; the husband of Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., also has.

Capito said Paul is her next-door neighbor in the Russell Senate Office Building. She hasn’t seen him since the announcement he tested positive and hasn’t been tested herself. But the two positives has led some senators to self-quarantine.

Her focus, she said, is to keep working and get supplies and aid to the states and the citizens.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., did not issue a comment on Monday’s vote but did comment on Justice’s executive order.

“I urge every West Virginian to abide by this order,” he said. “We must come together to do the difficult things required to slow the spread of COVID-19. This outbreak is serious and the only option is to fight it together.”

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