No, the U.S. Senate Did Not Delay a Vote on Coronavirus Relief
A handful of reports, primarily circulated on social media, in recent days claimed that the United States Senate delayed a vote on a coronavirus relief package, with some even claiming that Senator McConnell took an extended weekend instead of being in Washington and acting on legislation from the House of Representatives.
It is a challenging time to get accurate information, with the news moving even faster than we have become accustomed in the social media age. So, is it true?
A quick look at the facts quickly dispels those claims.
- The Senate did not have a bill to take up until the House sent it to the Upper Chamber. Because the House was working on amending the bill, this did not happen until Monday afternoon. It, therefore, would have been impossible for the Senate to take up a bill over the weekend.
- Once the bill was sent to the Senate, it was immediately taken up, in what has been called "warp speed" for the chamber. The Senate passed it on Wednesday morning. (Interestingly, the Senate used a 30-minute roll-call vote to encourage social distancing.)
- It has been signed by the President, less than three days after moving out of the House.
- The relief bill passed on Wednesday and signed by the President was negotiated between the White House and Speaker Pelosi. Despite concern from Leader McConnell and some other Senate Republicans, the Chamber moved forward with the bill as quickly as possible "to provide relief to the American people."
After passing this legislation, the Senate has taken center stage on what is being called "phase three." This legislation will be the culmination of negotiations between Senate Republicans and the White House, with three separate Senate panels having been formed to guide policy goals. It is expected that this package could be in excess of $1 trillion of relief, dwarfing the size of the previous bill, and include the stimulus proposals that have been promoted by President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin.
A memo from the Treasury Department on Wednesday detailed the administration's proposal, which includes two rounds of check payment to taxpayers, both totaling approximately $250 billion each. The administration is also requesting $300 billion in small business loans and approximately $200 billion for the airline industry ($50 billion) and other impacted industries.
The package could be unveiled as early as Thursday and voted on as soon as this weekend.
Every bit of evidence indicates that accusations of delay on the part of the Senate, or on the part of Senator McConnell are unfounded, and are likely just the result of unfortunate partisan politicking at a time of national crisis.