Sep 11, 2020 5:38 PM

Hopes for new COVID relief package dim as Senate proposal fails

Posted Sep 11, 2020 5:38 PM

By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

Senate Democrats in Washington have blocked a slimmed down coronavirus relief bill and prospects of passing another package of health funding and economic stimulus seem to be dimming.

Missouri Republican U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley accuses Democrats of playing politics by keeping the Senate from even considering the $500 billion dollar package.

“I’m sorry to say that my Democratic colleagues just blocked it,” Hawley tells the Missourinet. “They blocked it from even coming to the floor so we could debate it and this is getting to be a pattern now.”

The bill needed 60 votes to advance, but failed on a near party line 52-47 vote.

Democrats complain the bill falls far short of the needs of the country in wake of the harm the pandemic has caused the economy and the needs states and communities have in fighting the virus. House Democrats have been pushing for a $2 trillion package after earlier passing a $3.4 trillion bill.

Hawley claims presidential politics have taken over.

“My own view is we ought to be focused on working families and on getting people back to work, getting their jobs back, getting their health care on the job back,” Hawley says. “But we’ve got to be able to move a bill to the floor and debate it in order to do any of that.”

Congressman Sam Graves holds out hope another package can win approval during the short time Congress is back in session before breaking for the November elections. Graves had hoped face-to-face negotiations would make a difference.

Graves says he understands farm country interests feel a bit left out of negotiations ongoing in Washington.

“Well, there are a lot of folks that are feeling left out,” Graves tells reporters during a stop in St. Joseph. “Agriculture; we’re going to do some of the plus-ups in some of the programs and we have changed some the stimulus things we passed in the original CARES Act to now include agriculture. They will have a component to it as well.”

The ethanol industry has complained about being left out and Graves says any stimulus for ethanol seems a remote possibility.

“Ethanol? It’s hard to tell at this point to be quite honest with you when it comes to ethanol and how far we go into energy overall,” Graves says. “It’s hard to tell at this point.”

Negotiations between congressional Democrats and Trump administration officials have not restarted since ending in August.