Senate Dems block coronavirus package, new vote set

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will try again on Monday to advance a mammoth coronavirus stimulus package, setting the vote for shortly after the markets open.

“Here’s the way ahead, colleagues. We’re going to vote at 9:45 in the morning, the same vote we had at 6 p.m. tonight. We’re going to vote at 9:45 in the morning, 15 minutes after the markets open, and see whether there’s a change of heart,” McConnell said on Sunday night.

His decision comes after the GOP stimulus package garnered 47 votes on Sunday, falling short of the three-fifths needed to advance. McConnell is trying to move a “shell” bill, which he will swap text of the stimulus package into.

Democrats, however, voted in lockstep against the bill, calling several provisions in it “non-starters.” Among other things, Democrats say Republicans walked back an agreement on putting $250 billion into unemployment insurance, and accused them of adding a $500 billion “corporate” slush fund and leaving out their priorities like expanded paid sick leave.

The Dow futures dropped five percent on Sunday as the chances of a quick deal on a stimulus package that would provide between $1.5 to $2 trillion to combat the coronavirus and bolster the economy hit fresh partisan stalemates.

McConnell said that he would force the 9:45 a.m. vote – 15 minutes after the markets open – unless negotiators are able to reach a deal before then, effectively establishing a new deadline.

“I just want all our colleagues to know when the next vote will be in the absence of an agreement. 9:45 in the morning, 15 minutes after the markets open,” McConnell said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), meanwhile, suggested that House Democrats might chart their own course and release their own bill, which could put the Democratic-led House and the Republican-led Senate on different tracks and delay final agreement on any deal.

“We will be introducing our own bill and hopefully it will be compatible” with what’s happening on the Senate side, Pelosi said after a late morning meeting with McConnell, Schumer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Mnuchin.