Jones votes to block consideration of $500B COVID-19 relief bill, GOP bill protecting pre-existing conditions coverage
U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) on Wednesday joined Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and his fellow caucus members in voting to filibuster a targeted COVID-19 relief bill that included billions of dollars for unemployment insurance benefits, small business relief and funds for urgent health care needs.
The legislation failed to receive the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture, meaning the Senate cannot advance to consideration of the bill itself at this time.
The $500 billion measure included more funds for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was estimated to have supported 700,000 jobs in Alabama and covered 82% of the state’s small business payroll as of June 30. The program was open over a month after that, so the total is likely even higher.
A recent survey by the NFIB revealed that about 50% of small businesses would apply for a second Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan if available.
The measure blocked by Senate Democrats on Wednesday also included a $300 per week supplemental unemployment insurance benefit and certain liability protections for businesses.
The bill would have provided $105 billion to students, $16 billion for coronavirus testing, $31 billion for vaccine development, $20 billion in farm assistance, $15 billion for childcare and $10 billion to the United States Postal Service.
A Wednesday release from Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) after the vote stressed that the measure would have aided American families and businesses suffering from the pandemic. Shelby voted in favor of invoking cloture.
“Democrats’ all-or-nothing approach continues to hurt American families and small businesses. Both parties agree that more funding is needed for PPP, unemployment insurance, schools, testing, and vaccines. This package would have provided hundreds of billions of dollars for these critical priorities. Yet Democrats stood in the way, once again, because it did not include their partisan demands. Families and businesses are struggling. This senseless gridlock must stop for their sake. They deserve better,” stated Shelby.
Not included in the bill were non-COVID-related items championed by House Democrats, such as legalizing “ballot harvesting” nationwide. Democrats’ proposal also reportedly “omitted language restricting abortion funding [with federal monies] and added protections against deportation of illegal immigrants.”
This is the second time recently that Jones has voted against invoking cloture on a targeted relief bill.
The Senate measure shot down Wednesday did not include another round of stimulus checks to the American people. President Donald Trump and other Republicans have proposed doing another stimulus round as a standalone bill. Asked by Yellowhammer News on October 7 whether Jones would support such a standalone bill, Jones’ campaign referred the inquiry to Jones’ Senate office. The Senate office has still not responded to the request for comment.
In a virtual campaign event on Tuesday, Jones outlined his purported thinking on coronavirus relief.
“Millions of people desperately need additional COVID relief, and once again Senate Democrats decided to play partisan games instead of delivering much-needed help to Americans,” stated National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) communications director Jesse Hunt. “The Republican Majority has continued to offer a number of solutions but Democrats refuse to come to the table for anything except a $2 trillion liberal wish list. Democrat candidates should prove they aren’t beholden to Chuck Schumer and speak out against Senate Democrats’ intransigence.”
Wednesday’s vote was not Jones’ only floor activity this week.
On Tuesday, Jones voted in support of Schumer’s effort to adjourn the Senate until November 9 without having passed COVID-19 relief for the American people. That effort to adjourn failed for the second straight day.
Jones on Tuesday also voted against proceeding to a vote on Sen. Tom Tillis’ (R-NC) bill that would ensure coverage for pre-existing conditions is protected even if the entirety of the Affordable Care Act was repealed or struck down.
The same day, Alabama’s junior senator voted against tabling a GOP Senate proposal to open back up PPP with new funds and allow businesses to get a second round of funding. That proposal is still pending further action and has yet to break an expected filibuster by Democrats.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn