Senate fails to advance coronavirus stimulus bill for second time in two days

The Senate on Monday failed to advance a massive coronavirus stimulus package for the second time in as many days. 

Senators voted 49-46, falling short of the three-fifths support necessary to move forward with a “shell” bill, which the text of the agreement would ultimately be swapped into. 

Democratic Sen. Doug Jones (Ala.) broke with the party to vote in support of the measure. 

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The failed vote comes as negotiators have been in around-the-clock meetings over the past four days to try to close an agreement. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTexas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing COVID-19, Bill Barr and the American authoritarian tradition MORE (D-N.Y.) and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinSunday shows preview: Lawmakers, state governors talk coronavirus, stimulus package and resources as pandemic rages on Struggling states warn coronavirus stimulus falls short Trump asserts power to decide what info inspector general gives Congress about stimulus package MORE met at least six times on Sunday, and restarted talks after 9 a.m. on Monday. 

Schumer said shortly before the vote that he was “confident” that they would be able to get an agreement on Monday. 

“We hope and expect those negotiations to conclude today,” he said. 

But senators were unable to get there before the early afternoon vote even as they are under intense pressure to act.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average wiped out all the gains made thus far during the Trump administration roughly an hour before the vote. Meanwhile, there are now more than 41,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus within the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University

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Schumer argued that the procedural vote was meaningless because negotiations continued off the floor and accused Republicans of setting “arbitrary” deadlines. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner Struggling states warn coronavirus stimulus falls short Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike MORE (R-Ky.) ripped Democrats for slow-walking the bill, noting that negotiations could continue even if they let the measure overcome an initial procedural hurdle. 

“The markets are tanking once again, as I said, because this body can’t get its act together, and the only reason it can’t get its act together is right over here on the other side of the aisle,” McConnell said in a blistering floor speech roughly an hour ahead of the vote. 

Tensions were running high in the Senate on Monday, as Democrats temporarily blocked Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post Campaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus Senate eyes quick exit after vote on coronavirus stimulus package MORE (R-Maine) from speaking from the floor as they tried to get clarity on what the schedule was. Collins called the tactics "unbelievable." Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSunday shows preview: Lawmakers, state governors talk coronavirus, stimulus package and resources as pandemic rages on White House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Trump, Dems close in on deal MORE (R-Ark.), who was on the floor, could be overheard calling the maneuver “bullshit.” 

Republicans argue that Democrats should let the bill get over the initial hurdle because they would still have days of debate time that they could use to finish up negotiations. 

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When Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinWhite House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package Some Democrats growing antsy as Senate talks drag on Senate fails to advance coronavirus stimulus bill for second time in two days MORE (D-W.Va.) argued that they should be able to get a deal, McConnell interjected: “Does the senator understand that even if cloture were invoked, there is still 30 more hours?” 

Even as Schumer appeared optimistic about a deal, aides in both parties continued to point out sticking points, raising questions about how quickly they would get an agreement. 

A Senior Democratic aide said Monday that Republicans were “adding unrelated items” including an extension of an abstinence education program that would have expired in May. Republicans say Democrats are trying to drop in unrelated energy provisions. 

Democrats have also raised a laundry list of objections to provisions in the bill, with Schumer noting they were still discussing aid for corporations. 

A source familiar with the GOP bill text also said Republicans are “refusing to add strong worker protections” and have included language requiring companies keep employees “to the extent possible.”

Democrats worry the language is vague enough that corporations could take federal help and still fire workers. They also want strong restrictions on corporations who take federal help, but the source said the GOP bill included “very weak” stock buyback restrictions that could be waived by Mnuchin.

The GOP bill, according to the source, also increases a “corporate bailout fund” to $500 billion. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoLobbying blitz yields wins for airlines, corporations, banks, unions Stimulus empowers Treasury to rescue airlines with billion in direct assistance White House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package MORE (R-Idaho) had pushed to increase the $208 billion proposed in the original GOP plan to ensure distressed industries have access to capital.