GOP senator blocks vote on fellow Republican's coronavirus bill

GOP senator blocks vote on fellow Republican's coronavirus bill
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Wednesday blocked a vote on legislation that would give states more flexibility in how they use $150 billion included in the March $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) tried to set up a vote on his bill, noting that it would require 60 votes to pass.

Kennedy's bill would let states use the money on revenue replacement, as their budgets have been decimated by the coronavirus. It would not let it be used for pensions, a key issue for Republicans, and does not include new funding.

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"I believe that state and local governments have sustained damage. And I think that is just a natural fact," Kennedy said.

Kennedy previously tried to pass his bill last week, and Scott similarly objected. Under the Senate's rules, any one senator can try to set up a vote on a bill or pass it, and any one senator can object.

Scott said that he supports maintaining the current restrictions on how state and local governments use the funding.

"While imperfect, the coronavirus relief fund makes sure spending is for coronavirus response. Regardless of whether we're removing the existing guard rails or talking about completely new funding, both actions would result in a blank check for states," Scott said.

He added that Kennedy’s bill has not been taken up in a committee and that Congress should “work methodically.”

Lifting restrictions on state and local spending has emerged as a point of division for Republicans. While many say they support giving them more flexibility, GOP senators are split on if that should include the ability to put the money toward revenue replacement.

Kennedy noted that he was only asking for a vote, adding, "We don't vote enough around here."

"You know, I came here to deliberate and decide. I didn't come up here to issue press releases and participate in delay. ... All I want to do is have a vote on my bill. If you don't like it, you can chew it up, spit it out and step on it," Kennedy said.