On The Money: Senate Democrats block GOP relief bill | Senators don't expect stimulus until after election | Jobless claims plateau

On The Money: Senate Democrats block GOP relief bill | Senators don't expect stimulus until after election | Jobless claims plateau
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Happy Thursday and welcome back to On The Money. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL— Senate Democrats block GOP relief bill: Senate Democrats blocked a GOP coronavirus bill on Thursday amid a deep stalemate over the next relief package. 

Senators voted 52-47 on the roughly $500 billion Republican bill, which marked the first coronavirus-related legislation the chamber has voted on since it passed a $484 billion package in April. 

What it means: This vote may give vulnerable Republican senators some cover in the upcoming election, but it ultimately does nothing for the tens of millions of Americans struggling with unemployment, food scarcity, mounting bills and a deadly pandemic amid a partisan standoff. The Hill’s Jordain Carney has more here.

The bickering: The brinkmanship was on full display ahead of Thursday’s vote as McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) traded shots on the Senate floor. 

  • McConnell called Schumer’s strategy on the coronavirus bill “toxic,” after the Democratic leader told reporters that Republicans were the “enemy of the good.” 
  • “Senators who share the Democratic leader’s toxic attitude, who think the real enemy are their political opponents, I assume will follow his lead and vote no. They can tell American families they care more about politics than helping them,” McConnell added. 
  • Schumer fired back that Thursday’s vote was “pointless” and that the GOP bill was “emaciated.”

What comes next: There’s no sign that congressional Democrats or the White House will relent.


Senators also appear increasingly pessimistic that Congress will be able to get a deal until after the November election.

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Jobless claims steady at 884K despite decline in unemployment rate: The latest impasse over another round of stimulus comes after some disappointing economic news.

New weekly claims for unemployment benefits stayed flat last week when adjusted for seasonal factors, but rose by more than 20,000 on an unadjusted basis, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

  • In the week ending Sept. 5, the number of seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance totaled 884,000, unchanged from the previous week’s revised level of applications. 
  • Without adjustments for seasonal factors, claims rose 857,148 in the week ending Sept. 5, a 2.4 percent increase from the previous week’s 837,000 claims. 
  • Claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program meant to cover workers excluded from traditional jobless benefits, also rose to 838,916 last week, an increase of roughly 91,000 applications from the previous week.

I break down the report here.

What it means: The new data on jobless claims is a troubling sign for a U.S. economy still suffering from high levels of unemployment and staggeringly high unemployment applications more than five months after the onset of the coronavirus recession.

  • "What is clear from the claims data is that the expiration of unemployment benefits is if anything sapping positive momentum in the labor market, not boosting it. The problem here is labor DEMAND not labor supply. We are supporting demand less so we get less hiring," tweeted Julia Coronado, a former Federal Reserve economist. 
  • “Through the week of August 22, there were 29.6 million individuals receiving some form of unemployment benefits,” wrote Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at tax and audit firm RSM. “This is not an encouraging evolution of the data.”

Trump payroll-tax deferral for federal workers sparks backlash: The Trump administration’s decision to require the deferral of payroll taxes for federal workers and military members is creating more divisions around the president’s attempt to provide short-term economic relief.

  • Many private sector employers are not expected to defer their employees’ Social Security payroll taxes under Trump’s order, but the federal government is making it mandatory for its employees. 
  • Federal agencies have indicated that the deferral will apply to all eligible civilian employees and service members.

Why it matters: The federal government is the most prominent employer to announce it’s participating in the deferral, and the administration’s move to defer the payroll taxes of executive branch workers increases the impact of an action by Trump that may have little effect beyond government.

“That makes it much more salient,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee whose Northern Virginia district includes many federal workers.

The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda explains here.





  • Dozens of Amazon products sold under its AmazonBasics line have exploded and started fires, CNN reported Thursday, citing customer reviews and interviews. 
  • The Treasury Department on Thursday added four Russian and Ukrainian individuals to its specially designated nationals list, citing attempts by the individuals to interfere in U.S. elections.