The Senate rejected Republicans’ latest coronavirus relief proposal Thursday, though Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may have strengthened their hand in bipartisan negotiations with a display of GOP unity.
The vote to end debate on the roughly $650 billion package was 52-47, falling short of the necessary 60 votes. But McConnell was able to keep all but one of his 53-member conference on board, an important signal to Democratic leaders and White House officials who remain mired in a stalemate.
Rand Paul, R-Ky., was the sole GOP “no” vote.
Leaders of both parties telegraphed for days that as drafted, the Senate GOP’s “skinny” bill wouldn’t pass. But after Republicans faced the loss of perhaps 20 votes on their own side for a $1.1 trillion package of bills McConnell unveiled in late July, Democrats repeatedly used the “GOP in disarray” talking point to take a hard line in the negotiations.
The vote also gives vulnerable Senate Republican incumbents something to point to on the campaign trail after the chamber recesses next month until after Election Day, if the parties can’t work out a broader deal before then.