A $250 billion urgent request to shore up a depleting small business fund failed to pass the Senate Thursday after Democrats objected to the measure pushed by the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
With lawmakers home and social distancing, McConnell sought to pass the cash infusion swiftly Thursday by unanimous consent with a skeleton group of senators, but Democrats blocked the effort because they want add-ons to help businesses in disadvantaged communities and an additional $250 billion in funds for other priorities.
The extra funding is being sought amid concerns that the original $350 billion program to help businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic could run dry in the near future in the face of an enormous demand.
The stalemate in the Senate comes as a record-breaking number of Americans have filed for unemployment with the economy shutting down nationwide under stay-at-home orders. New jobless numbers out Thursday morning show a total of 16.8 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the last three weeks.
McConnell pleaded with Democrats to pass a measure that would change the funding for the program from $350 billion to $600 billion total in a “clean” emergency measure.
“My colleagues must not treat working Americans as political hostages. This does not have to be, nor should it be, contentious.” McConnell said, adding that lawmakers can pass other COVID-19 legislation in the future.
“Please do not block emergency aid you do not even oppose, just because you want something more,” McConnell implored. – READ MORE