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Stimulus bill: Republican 'skinny' relief package proposal blocked in Senate

A pared-down coronavirus relief bill offering around $500 billion in aid failed to advance in a procedural vote in the Senate on Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 10, 2020.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The US Senate on Thursday blocked a ‘skinny' Republican bill that would have provided around $500 billion in new coronavirus relief, as Democrats seeking far more funding prevented it from advancing.

‘Skinny’ GOP relief bill fails in Senate procedural vote

By a vote of 52-47, the Senate failed to get the 60 ‘yes’ votes that it needed in the 100-member upper chamber to advance the partisan bill toward passage. Senator Rand Paul, who opposed the deficit spending in the bill, was the lone Republican to vote 'no'.

Democratic leaders in Congress have been pushing for a far more vigorous response - around $3 trillion in new aid amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. They said they still held out hope for negotiations to produce a compromise, but some senators expressed doubts that would happen before the 3 November presidential and congressional elections.

Congress is now expected to mainly focus on work on other pressing legislation so members can return to their home states in October to campaign for re-election.

Four coronavirus aid packages passed so far

Earlier this year, Congress quickly passed four major bills providing about $3 trillion to respond to the Covid-19 crisis, most notably the $2.2-trillion CARES Act.

In May, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, a bill that would provide another $3.4 trillion in aid, but the proposal has not been taken up by the Senate.

McConnell: “No help for American families before the election”

Reacting to Thursday's defeat on Twitter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) accused the Democrats of trying to damage Republicans’ election chances by preventing relief legislation from passing before the vote.

"Their goal is clear: No help for American families before the election," McConnell said.

Live coverage of the coronavirus crisis

As of 14:00 ET on Thursday, there had been nearly 6.4 million coronavirus cases and over 905,000 deaths in the United States, the world’s worst-affected country.

You can follow live, US-focused coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic with our dedicated rolling blog.