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Relief Checks Remain Hung Up in Senate

Democrats and Republicans can't agree on details of $1.8 trillion plan
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 22, 2020 7:31 PM CDT

(Newser) – Negotiations between Congress and the White House teetered Sunday over a nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package as the coronavirus crisis deepened, per the AP. As President Trump took to the podium in the White House briefing room and promised to help Americans who feel afraid and isolated as the pandemic spreads, the Senate voted against advancing the rescue package. But negotiations continued on Capitol Hill. At the otherwise emptied out Capitol, the draft aid bill was declared insufficient by Democrats, who argued it was tilted toward corporations and did too little to help workers and health care providers. The setback sent Republicans back to the negotiating table. “Americans don't need to see us haggling endlessly,” warned Senate Majority Leader McConnell on the Senate floor. He sought passage of the package by Monday.

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But Democrats say the largely GOP-led effort does not go far enough to provide health care and unemployment aid for Americans, and fails to put restraints on a proposed $500 billion “slush fund” for corporations. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the draft package “significantly cut back our hospitals, our cities, our states, our medical workers and so many others needed in this crisis.” The package would include relief checks to Americans, possibly two separate ones for a total of $2,000. Trump predicted the two sides would reach agreement soon. "To me it's not very complicated: We have to help the worker. We have to save the companies," Trump said. "We're enduring a great national trial and we will prove that we can meet the moment. We're at war." (Rand Paul became the first US senator to test positive for the virus.)

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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