Democrats in the U.S. Senate blocked a massive coronavirus stimulus bill from advancing on Sunday (March 22), as partisan battles continued over Democrats' demands for more federal funding for medical care, and state and local efforts to combat the outbreak.
The measure faltered after it failed to get the necessary 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to clear a procedural hurdle after days of negotiations.
At a White House briefing Sunday evening, President Donald Trump said he still had hope that an aid package could still pass Congress soon.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "We're dealing with Mitch.
We're dealing with the other side.
Everybody wants to get there.
We'll see what happens.
I think, I think you'll get there.
It's, to me, it's not very complicated.
We have to help the worker.
We have to save the companies." Republican Leader Mitch McConnell urged Democrats to stop what he called their "obstruction," saying it was delaying aid and hurting financial markets.
Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the bill had "many, many problems" and would benefit corporate interests at the expense of hospitals, healthcare workers, cities and states.
The failure of the measure to move forward sends Democrats and Republicans back to the bargaining table.
The bill is Congress' third effort to blunt the economic toll of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 400 people in the United States and sickened more than 30,000, leading governors to order nearly a third of the nation's population to stay at home and putting most business activity on hold.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier on Sunday that Democrats in her chamber would begin crafting an alternative to the Senate bill.