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US coronavirus: US stimulus bill blocked amid political division

The US Senate failed to pass a massive coronavirus aid package after Senate Democrats voted en masse to deny Republicans the necessary support. 

The party-line vote poses a major setback to the bill after days of breakneck negotiations between lawmakers and the Trump administration, racing to pass the emergency measure.

Expected to cost upwards of $1.8 trillion (£1.5 trillion) it would be the largest economic stimulus package in the country’s history. 

Democrats cited several concerns with the proposed legislation – including what they call a $500bn “corporate slush fund” – a loan programme controlled entirely by the Trump administration’s treasury department. But they now risk major political backlash for appearing to obstruct a much-needed economic boost.

Republicans quickly ripped into Democrats, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accusing the lawmakers of creating a “spectacle” and of “playing games” with the economy. 

But senators and officials say they still hope to reach a compromise. “We’re closer than we’ve ever been at any time over the past 48 hours to an agreement,” said top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer. 

As of yet, any Senate bill will have at least three absent Republicans: Kentucky’s Rand Paul and both senators for Utah, Mitt Romney and Mike Lee. Mr Paul has tested positive for Covid-19 and both Mr Romney and Mr Lee are in self-quarantine after recent contact with their fellow senator.

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