Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R., Ky.) effort to provide an extra $250 billion to small businesses in the latest coronavirus relief bill is a "political stunt," two Senate Democrats said Thursday.
"He's just dumping money," Sen. Doug Jones (D., Ala.) told MSNBC. "This is a political stunt by Senator McConnell again, just like he did when we were discussing—and in good faith discussions and negotiations—about how to get COVID 3 done. He did the same thing: put something on the floor of the Senate that he knew was not going to pass so he could have a political message."
Jones said McConnell lied, claiming McConnell never negotiated the bill with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and was "once again playing politics with the American people."
Democrats wound up blocking the Republican bill proposing an additional $250 billion to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, an existing provision from the previous coronavirus stimulus bill. It gives loans to small business owners to keep their workforce employed amid a mostly nationwide shutdown.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.), who joined in blocking McConnell's bill on Thursday morning, also said it was a "political stunt" during a Senate floor speech.
"It will not address the immediate need of small businesses in the legislation that we have passed," he said.
McConnell had hoped to pass the measure by unanimous consent and said Democrats were holding "Americans' paychecks hostage."
Republicans blocked a Democratic proposal that included $250 billion for hospitals and state and local governments in addition to the added $250 billion for small businesses.
Due to the pandemic, nearly 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits over the past three weeks.