A top Senate Republican says additional coronavirus relief may not come until after the November election

FILE PHOTO: Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) arrives for the resumption of the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) arrives as Trump impeachment trial resumes on Capitol Hill in Washington
  • Sen. Richard Shelby, chair of the Appropriations Committee, said additional coronavirus relief may not come until after the November election.
  • "It looks that way," Shelby told reporters. "You never know around here sometimes things look bleak and they're revived and so forth."
  • The comments come after Democrats united to block a $500 billion GOP stimulus plan, attacking it as "inadequate."
  • Many economists warn of a slowing, uneven recovery without further federal spending.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, chair of the Appropriations Committee, said on Thursday that coronavirus relief legislation may not get passed until after the presidential election in November.

His comments came after Democrats united to oppose the GOP's $500 billion slimmed-down stimulus plan, blocking it in a 52-47 vote. Some lawmakers sought to salvage hope that a deal could still be struck this month. But Shelby threw cold water on the idea and said further economic relief may not come before Americans cast their ballots.

"It looks that way," Shelby told reporters. "You never know around here sometimes things look bleak and they're revived and so forth. We thought the scaled down version was a good bill. A good timing and everything else, the Democrats obviously thought otherwise. That's all we can do is tee it up and go with it."

The path forward on pandemic aid appears highly uncertain. Talks between top Trump administration officials and congressional Democrats haven't restarted after they collapsed last month.

The $500 billion virus aid proposal included a $300 weekly federal supplement to state unemployment benefits, and aid for small businesses, schools, and hospitals. It also included a liability shield for businesses and a tax credit to help people enroll in private schools, both measures that Democrats staunchly oppose.

It was around half the size of an initial $1 trillion plan Republicans introduced in late July, which caused extreme divisions in their caucus. They never brought it to a vote.

Democrats assailed the Republican plan on Wednesday. It omitted direct payments to individuals and aid to cash-strapped states and local governments, two key Democratic priorities.

"This bill is not going to happen because it is so emaciated, so filled with poison pills. It is designed to fail," Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said on the Senate floor. "It's insufficient — it's completely inadequate."

Around 29 million Americans are on unemployment benefits, per Labor Department data, and there are still fewer jobs available than unemployed people. Permanent layoffs are also mounting as many economists warn of a slowing recovery without additional stimulus spending.

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