On Sunday, Senate Democrats blocked the massive $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill intended to inject new life into an economy struggling to survive under the weight of social distancing necessary to combat the global pandemic. Democrats claimed they opposed the bill because it would give Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin the ability to direct billions in a secret "slush fund" — which he would ostensibly use to benefit political allies and President Donald Trump's companies, but Democrats had other reasons to delay the bill, as well.
Congress has already passed — and the president has already signed — two emergency coronavirus measures earlier this month. The current stimulus bill has been worked out in meetings involving Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Yet after these negotiations — which involved a great deal of compromise on both sides — Democrats blocked the bill on Sunday night, The Hill reported. Democrats condemned what they call a secret "slush fund" for corporate America, Politicoreported. The stimulus bill includes a $500 billion "Exchange Stabilization Fund" under Mnuchin's control, designed to help industries struggling from the fallout of the coronavirus. It includes $58 billion for U.S. airlines and air cargo companies.
"We’re gonna give $500 billion in basically a slush fund to help industries controlled by Mnuchin with very little transparency? Is that what we ought to be doing?" Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii.) asked, rhetorically.
"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," railed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), fresh off a failed presidential campaign. "We're here to help workers, we're here to help hospitals. And right now, what the Republicans proposed does neither of those."
Schumer claimed Democrats opposed the bill because "it includes huge bailouts without protections for people and workers and without accountability, and because it shortchanges our hospitals and healthcare workers who need our help."