'No more slush funds': Democrats attack part of the $1.8 trillion stimulus bill as a bailout for massive corporations
- Democrats in the Senate attacked a key part of the $1.8 trillion stimulus bill as a "slush fund" to bail out America's largest corporations during the coronavirus pandemic.
- A contentious divide is emerging around a proposed $500 billion fund overseen by the Treasury Department that would extend taxpayer-funded loans to states, cities, and companies in dire financial straits.
- The Trump administration is seeking to provide $50 billion in emergency funding for airliners battered by mass cancellations amid the pandemic.
- "No more slush funds or no-strings-attached bailouts," Elizabeth Warren said in a tweet.
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Democrats in the Senate blocked action an emerging government rescue package totaling $1.8 trillion that aims to shore up an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. They particularly attacked a key provision within the bill as a bailout for large corporations, saying it didn't impose enough conditions to protect workers.
The party-line procedural vote (47-47) on Sunday threatened to derail progress on what is appearing to be the largest stimulus legislation in American history, per The New York Times. Sixty votes were needed to approve the measure.
The failure to move ahead sent stock futures tumbling 5% before Monday's market open, triggering a halt to further trading.
The Trump administration - led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin - has scrambled to negotiate a colossal federal rescue package to bolster an economy experiencing sector-wide shutdowns as workers are urged to stay home. The legislation would also send $1,200 checks to many Americans and boost unemployment benefits.
A sticking point is a proposed $500 billion fund overseen by the Treasury Department to provide emergency federal funding for industries battered by the virus. The Trump administration is seeking to direct $50 billion to major airliners and $8 billion to major carriers.
But Democrats assailed "the slush fund," arguing it gives Mnuchin excessive leeway to determining who receives the money. They also said it didn't impose enough restrictions on how it could be used.
"This is a wake-up call: our govt needs to take bold action on a grassroots stimulus for the health experts on the frontlines of this pandemic, & for workers & families who need help now," Warren said in a tweet. "No more slush funds or no-strings-attached handouts. Real relief for the American people."
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington also blasted the bill and said it didn't go far enough to provide a financial cushion to the hardest-hit people.
"In the midst of an unprecedented national crisis, Republicans can't seriously expect us to tell people in our communities who are suffering that we shortchanged hospitals, students, workers and small businesses, but gave big corporations hundreds of billions of dollars in a secretive slush fund," Murray said in a press release.
Republicans fired back. During a speech on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell derided the "obstructionism" of Democrats who blocked the bill.
"Hopefully, some adults will show up on the other side of the room and understand the gravity of the situation," the Kentucky senator said.
Last week, Warren called for companies accepting federal money to abide by strict guidelines governing how federal money could be used. Those included permanently barring them from buying back stock and mandating the funds' use to keep jobs.
Another vote is expected to be held Monday.
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