MORGANTOWN — Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin took opposite views on the not-unexpected failure of a scaled-down GOP COVID relief package to move in the Senate on Thursday.
“From the start of this pandemic,” said Capito, R-W.Va., “I’ve been in touch daily with West Virginians that still need help due to the challenges presented by COVID-19. We had an opportunity to really deliver on this help today. Unfortunately, the Senate failed.
“I am extremely disappointed that some of my colleagues are letting politics stand in the way of delivering much-needed relief to struggling Americans,” she said. “Thousands of Americans are sick, our medical professionals continue to work around-the-clock to care for patients, workers are unable to return to work or have been laid off, and small businesses are struggling to weather this pandemic. … I will continue working toward a bipartisan agreement that will allow us to pass similar legislation soon, and I urge my colleagues to put politics aside and do the same.”
But Manchin, D-W.Va., said, “If I hadn’t held out the last time [Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell tried to ram through a COVID bill, West Virginia wouldn’t have $1.25 billion in state and local funding. The easy thing to do would be to vote yes, but the right thing to do is to put politics aside and do our job. With today’s partisan vote failing, I am hopeful we can immediately come together to pass a bill that helps the West Virginians who need it like we did six months ago on March 27.”
The $500 billion package included money for schools and daycare; the Paycheck Protection Program; unemployment benefits; COVID testing, tracing and treatments; the U.S. Postal Service; and legal protections for schools, churches, charities, nonprofits, and employers to re-open. It did not have, among other things, the $1,200 individual stimulus checks included in HEALS.
The bill stalled on a procedural motion that would have allowed it to be considered on the floor and needed 60 votes to overcome a Democrat filibuster. The motion failed 52-47 with one Republican and all Democrats voting against it. Pundits note that the failure was a victory of sorts for McConnell: 20 Republicans opposed the $1.1 trillion HEALS Act complaining it spent too much money.
While both Capito and Manchin expressed hope to keep moving forward, The Hill reported that many Republicans are saying COVID relief is dead until after the Nov. 3 election.
As previously reported here, Republicans and Democrats were at loggerheads over a package, with House and Senate Democrats supporting a $3.4 trillion package and most Republicans supporting the more modest HEALS.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows have been conducting the GOP negotiations while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have led the Democratic side.
The Hill reported that Republicans were willing to go up to $1.5 trillion while Democrats came down to $2.2 trillion, but they couldn’t get any further and have no talks scheduled.
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