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‘Skinny’ Coronavirus Stimulus Relief Bill Fails in U.S. Senate

CHARLESTON — West Virginia’s delegation in the U.S. Senate were on opposite sides on a new scaled down coronavirus relief package that failed to get the needed votes to proceed Thursday.

Republicans in the Senate introduced what some called the “skinny package” Wednesday with the intentions of pushing for a full vote Thursday.

The bill had 52 out of 53 Republicans but failed to get to the 60 votes needed for the bill to proceed to full debate.

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who laid out her support for the skinny package Wednesday with reporters, said in a statement Thursday that she was disappointed that the bill didn’t garner bipartisan support.

“We had an opportunity to really deliver on this help today. Unfortunately, the Senate failed,” Capito said. “While this package does not have everything, it has relief for the areas we can all agree on at this point.”

The procedural motion was defeated with 47 Democrats and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., voting against the motion, including U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Manchin called Thursday’s vote a “partisan” effort that didn’t do enough to address issues raised in the most recent coronavirus package that passed Congress, the C.A.R.E.S. Act.

“The easy thing to do would be to vote ‘yes,’ but the right thing to do is to put politics aside and do our job,” Manchin said in a statement. “With today’s partisan vote failing, I am hopeful we can immediately come together to pass a bill that helps the West Virginians who need it like we did six months ago on March 27th.”

The Senate Republicans skinny package included $650 million in coronavirus relief for small businesses, the unemployed, COVID-19 healthcare needs, the U.S. Postal Service, and schools. The bill was $350 billion less than a $1 trillion package that Senate Republicans first proposed at the end of July. Of that $650 billion, $350 million would have been covered with unused coronavirus relief funding from previous packages.

The bill included funding for a $300 per week coronavirus unemployment benefit until Dec. 27, provided $105 billion to public schools and daycares, and $29 billion in additional funding for COVID-19 healthcare. It also would have funded a second round of loans to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, provided liability protections for medical services and businesses, given $20 billion in funding to farmers who have suffered economically during the pandemic, and forgave a $10 billion loan to the U.S. Postal Service through the C.A.R.E.S. Act.

“I am extremely disappointed that some of my colleagues are letting politics stand in the way of delivering much-needed relief to struggling Americans,” Capito said. “Thousands of Americans are sick, our medical professionals continue to work around-the-clock to care for patients, workers are unable to return to work or have been laid off, and small businesses are struggling to weather this pandemic.”

With the failure of the skinny package, negotiations on a new coronavirus relief package will continue between Democratic leaders in Congress and White House officials. Those talks have been at a standstill with both sides separated by more than $1 trillion.

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