Speed Reads

Coronavirus bailouts

Senate halts $1.8 trillion GOP coronavirus bill over corporate 'slush fund,' worker firing concerns

The Senate voted 47-47 on a $1.8 trillion bill to shore up the economy during the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic, far short of the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who wrote the bill Saturday night, vowed Sunday night to bring it up for a vote again at 9:45 Monday morning, repeatedly daring Democrats to vote against it again as the stock market plummets further. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said no. Negotiations continued overnight.

Republicans are "throwing caution to the wind for average workers and people on Main Street and going balls to the wall for people on Wall Street," Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) said Sunday. Schumer laid out most of the Democratic concerns about the legislation, which The Washington Post calls "by far the largest financial rescue ever attempted by Congress," earning a three-word response from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

But Democrats weren't the only ones concerned that the legislation gives too much to large corporations while demanding too little in return. "Any relief for big corporations must limit executive compensation, ban stock buybacks, and require companies to pay back loans w/ interest. Or I'm not voting for it," Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) tweeted. Democrats voiced special concern about the $500 billion available to large companies with little oversight, including $425 million to be doled out at the discretion of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the recipients able to shield their identities for six months.

"We're not here to create a slush fund for Donald Trump and his family, or a slush fund for the Treasury Department to be able to hand out to their friends," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Sunday. Democrats also want the funds contingent on companies retaining 90 percent of their workers, not just "to the extent practicable," as McConnell's legislation allows. New York Times economic columnist Binyamin Appelbaum found that point the most baffling.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said "we're so far apart," the House will "be introducing our own bill and hopefully it will be compatible" with the Senate deal.