The Senate passed a multibillion-dollar package Wednesday to confront the economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Senate passed a House coronavirus aid package with overwhelming bipartisan support, with 90 senators in favor and eight against the measure. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)l, James Inhofe (R-OK), Ron Johnson (R-WI), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Tim Scott (R-SC) voted against the bill.
The House passed the legislation on Saturday, although Congress’s lower chamber had to pass a subsequent bill to address errors in the legislation.
The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) found that the bill will cost $104 billion.
The House-passed bill is referred to as “phase two” of Congress’s and President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus package.
The vote follows as Senate Republicans are working on “phase three,” which the Senate GOP hopes to pass next week. The third coronavirus package will likely include loans for small businesses, industries, and direct cash payments for Americans.
Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said on Tuesday that there is a “high level of interest” from Senate Republicans to craft a bill that would give Americans cash payments to handle the coronavirus outbreak.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated the bill, which caused controversy as many Senate Republicans felt sidelined during the negotiations.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the Democrat bill is not perfect, but they will move to pass their own legislation that would further address the economic impact of the Wuhan virus.
“I will vote to pass their bill. This is a time for urgent bipartisan action, and in this case, I do not believe we should let perfection be the enemy of something that will help even a subset of workers,” McConnell said.
“However, the House’s bill has real shortcomings. It does not even begin to cover all of the Americans who will need help in the days ahead,” the Senate Majority Leader added.
Paul forced an amendment to the coronavirus package that would have offset the cost of the bill by ending the war in Afghanistan.
“All because we refused to do what we were elected to do, which is to prioritize the truly vital, such as coronavirus relief and medical research, over the extraneous, such as spending money on clown colleges, gas stations, and roads in Afghanistan,” Paul said.