Tempers flare as $2 trillion aid package stalls in Senate


A nearly $2 trillion economic stimulus package to combat the coronavirus and its economic fallout failed to advance in the U.S. Senate Monday.

(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, SAYING:

“They oughta be embarrassed!”

Tempers flared before a vote to advance the sweeping measure, with each party blaming the other for what is now a second day of a Senate deadlock.

(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, SAYING:

“Absolutely mindless obstruction going on on the other side.”

(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING:

“We Democrats are trying to get things done, not making partisan speech after partisan speech.”

Democrats say the bill contains too little money for hospitals and not enough restrictions for big business.

(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING:

“The bill still includes something that most Americans don’t want to see: large corporate bailouts with almost no strings attached. Maybe the majority leader thinks it’s unfair to ask for protections for workers and labor, to companies that are getting hundreds of billions of dollars. We think it’s very fair to ask for those.”

Republicans argued that Democrats are seeking to aid unrelated provisions, such as expanded tax credits for wind and solar power and increased leverage for labor unions.

(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, SAYING:

“Are you kidding me?! This is the moment to debate new regulations that have nothing to do with this crisis?! That’s what they’re up to over there!”

The measure includes financial aid for ordinary Americans, small businesses and critically affected industries, including airlines.

Separately, the U.S. of Representatives released its own version of the bill, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI, SAYING:

“We require that any corporation that takes taxpayer dollars must protect their workers' wages and benefits - not CEO pay, stock buybacks, or layoffs.”

She urged the Republican-led Senate to restructure its bill closer to the one in the House.

After the Senate vote, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham still seemed confident the measure would pass before the end of Monday.

(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) REPUBLICAN SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM, SAYING:

"Yeah, we're going to get a bill today, 'cause we'll all get creamed if we don't.”

At least two Senators have been personally affected by the virus.

Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar said Monday her husband is hospitalized with the illness – one day after Republican Senator Rand Paul said he tested positive for the virus.