Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who is under quarantine for possible exposure to coronavirus, expressed deep anger at Senate Democrats who voted down a coronavirus relief package after working on the bipartisan bill all weekend.
“Nothing in the Senate has shocked me, until today,” Romney wrote on Twitter. “Standing in the way of a critically needed rescue package is irresponsible and reckless. Dems say not enough money to states: nearly $200 billion isn’t chump change. Hospitals get at least $75 billion.”
The Utah senator then went on to suggest that Democrats’ primary objections to the Senate package stemmed from a complete lack of economic understanding.
“As for funds for companies,” Romney said, referencing a so-called “slush fund” within the bill designed to provide further relief to coroporations and entities suffering six months after any coronavirus lockdown is lifeted, “it’s to keep entities that employ millions of Americans from folding—it’s to save jobs. Keep this up a little longer and we will go from social distancing to social destruction.”
Romney has only been in the Senate a short time — prior to being elected to now-retired Sen. Orrin Hatch’s seat in Utah, he served as a governor in Massachusetts and a presidential candidate — but he’s been open about his desire to work with Democrats where necessary, even to the detriment of the Trump Administration, to which Romney has expressed no loyalty. Just weeks ago, of course, Romney was easily the Democrats’ favorite member of the Republican caucus, voting to convict President Donald Trump on at least one impeachment charge.
Democrats, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who returned to Washington, D.C., on Sunday after spending most of last week sheltering in her district, voted to end debate on the bipartisan measure, which some senior Democrats had worked on since last Friday. The Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), remained in session even as the House cleared out in order to prepare the stimulus package for passage this week.
At the eleventh hour, Pelosi declared that the stimulus was merely a corporate relief package and that the House of Representatives would be crafting their own legislation to address coronavirus relief, even though high-profile Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), were part of the roped off team that outlined the Senate bill.
“The party-line vote was a stunning setback after three days of fast-paced negotiations between senators and administration officials to reach a bipartisan compromise on legislation that is expected to be the largest economic stimulus package in American history — now expected to cost $1.8 trillion or more,” the New York Times reported. “In a 47-to-47 vote, the Senate fell short of the 60 votes that would have been needed to advance the measure, even as talks continued between behind the scenes between Democrats and the White House to salvage a compromise.”
McConnell scheduled a re-vote on the package at 9:45am Monday, hoping that Democrats might be persuaded to back off their threats while the New York Stock Exchange was open and reacting directly to the possibility of stimulus legislation. Schumer, who leads the Senate Democratic caucus, refused to vote, locking himself in his chamber and announcing that no votes would take place before noon Monday.