Democrats on Monday blocked action for a second straight day on an over $1 trillion economic plan to offset the impact of the Coronavirus, as the Senate floor turned into an unusually heated verbal battleground, as Democrats accused the GOP of pressing a huge Wall Street bailout, while Republicans said Democrats were risking an implosion of the economy by slowing action.
"The country is burning," said Sen. John Thune (R-SD). "And your side wants to play political games."
"The American people don't want another corporate bailout," said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who drew language which wasn't fit for the Congressional Record from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).
"We are in the midst of a crisis," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), her voice giving off anger on the Senate floor.
"This is a national emergency," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who lambasted Democrats repeatedly on the Senate floor.
.@SenatorCollins: "I ask unanimous consent that proceedings under the quorum be dispensed with."— CSPAN (@cspan) March 23, 2020
Sen. Sasse (presiding): "Is there objection?"@SenSchumer: "I object."@senatemajldr: "Oh, come on."
Collins: "This is unbelievable." pic.twitter.com/Bg3pBv09Ch
.@senatemajldr: "At a time when everybody else in the country is pulling together, they are pulling us apart."@SenSchumer: "We Democrats are trying to get things done. Not making partisan speech after partisan speech." pic.twitter.com/qAtQbKEJCj— CSPAN (@cspan) March 23, 2020
Republicans bristled at frequent charges from Democrats that the GOP was pushing a bill which would keep the American public in the dark about $500 billion in loans for the airlines and other major industries.
"It seems like we're more focused on big corporations and the health care of Wall Street," said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who repeatedly talked about nurses and doctors in his state who were already short on needed supplies to deal with the virus.
"Don't tell us this has been a bipartisan effort," said Brown of Ohio, as he labeled one part of the plan a 'slush fund' for the Trump Administration and big business.
Senate floor scenes:— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) March 23, 2020
Cotton: "This is bullshit"
Brown: "I know you always want to do Trump's...bidding"
Collins: "You are objecting to my speaking? This is appalling"
McConnell: "Are you kidding me?"
Thune: "The country is burning and your side wants to play political games"
My hospitals need to stay open and my healthcare workers need to be protected first. But it seems like the Republican proposal is more focused on the big corporations and the health of Wall Street than the healthcare of the people in rural America and Main Street. pic.twitter.com/cBTjlGXC5D— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) March 23, 2020
I have people at home who are suffering while folks here are playing politics and discussing if we need more solar grants. Can we just deal with COVID19?! Let's help business and families that are struggling! https://t.co/qYNr2XfRih— Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) March 23, 2020
Even while the old spittoons were melting a little on the Senate floor, negotiations continued between Democrats and White House officials, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
"We're making a lot of progress," Mnuchin told reporters, even as Senators blasted each other a hundred feet away.
Only one Democrat broke ranks and moved to start debate on the legislative vehicle for the rescue plan, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), as the Senate voted 49-46 to proceed.
60 votes were needed.