Washington D.C., Mar 23, 2020 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- The Senate on Monday failed for the second straight day to advance consideration of a stimulus package to respond to the new coronavirus.
The senators failed to deliver the 60 votes necessary to proceed on a shell bill to consider the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the third major piece of legislation in response to the new coronavirus .
The bill would provide recovery checks to eligible taxpayers, defer student loan payments, and grant relief to small businesses.
However, some Democrats on Sunday reportedly opposed the package because it lacked guarantees that companies receiving relief would retain their employees, and lacked sufficient restrictions on the use of relief money for corporate stock buybacks.
The Hill reported on Sunday that, according to a Democratic aide, leading Democrats also opposed the provision excluding non-profits that receive Medicaid funds from Small Business Administration assistance in the bill. The non-profits reportedly affected by the provision would include Planned Parenthood and community health centers, among other health care entities.
On Monday, Democratic leaders reportedly wanted other provisions unrelated to the pandemic added to the legislation, including tax credits for wind and solar energy. By Monday afternoon, the Senate failed to proceed on consideration of the legislation, by a vote of 49 in favor to 46 against.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), expressed his support on Sunday for limits on executive compensation and stock buybacks
On Sunday evening, Hawley tweeted that “any relief for big corporations must limit executive compensation, ban stock buybacks, & require companies to pay back loans w/ interest. Or I’m not voting for it.” He voted on Sunday in favor of advancing consideration of the legislation.
Several senators missed the votes on both days due to a Coronavirus diagnosis.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has tested positive for the virus, his office announced on Sunday, and other senators who interacted with him were voluntarily self-quarantining, including Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) also announced on Monday that her husband had coronavirus.
On Monday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she would introduce the House Democrats’ version of the third stimulus bill, the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act.
She said the bill would require corporations to “protect their workers’ wages and benefits,” provide relief to small businesses, bolster unemployment insurance, fund hospitals and health care institutions, expand paid family and medical leave, support food insecurity benefits and provide nearly $40 billion for schools and universities.
Other senators and religious leaders pushed for greater protections for non-profits and Church employees in the legislation.
Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, who is also the president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, on Saturday called on California’s Catholics to support an extension of unemployment benefits to Church employees. Non-profit employees in several states currently do not have access to the benefits.
“As we know, the impact of the coronavirus emergency is being felt profoundly in our Catholic
Community,” Archbishop Gomez said, noting nationwide closures of Church-run ministries and offices.
“Please join me in asking Congress to extend unemployment benefits to Church workers who might need this relief. Let us stand together in solidarity for our brothers and sisters in this time of trial and need.”
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