Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, considered the most vulnerable Senate Democrat this fall, declined to join with Republicans on Thursday to advance a new coronavirus relief bill, dismissing the vote as a purely political one.
Jones blamed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for putting forth what he called a partisan bill that fell short of what Americans need and urged the leader to talk with Democrats.
“I think it is a complete lack of leadership on the majority leader here,” Jones said at the Capitol on Thursday after his “no” vote. “What he’s done is a disservice to the American people. We could have had a deal. We should have a deal. And it’s his fault that we don’t, and I’m just appalled at the way he has treated the American people.”
Republicans’ $300 billion coronavirus relief legislation failed to clear a procedural hurdle Thursday in the Senate, effectively killing the legislation that McConnell touted as an important economic lifeline and Democrats decried as a purely partisan and paltry effort.
The legislation needed 60 votes to advance but came up short: 52-47. All Republicans voted “yes” except for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who joined with all Democrats present who voted “no.”
McConnell blamed the bill’s failure on Democrats and accused them of not wanting to deliver a victory to President Trump before the election on Nov. 3. Jones and moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia were considered the two most likely Democrats to join with the GOP to advance the legislation, but there were no Democratic defections.
Jones is facing a tough reelection in November against Republican Tommy Tuberville, the former Auburn football coach who earned Trump’s backing in the primary against former Sen. Jeff Sessions.
Although the bill didn’t pass, the vote served some political purposes. GOP senators facing challenging reelection bids had a chance to vote “yes” on a procedural bill to show voters they are willing to support additional coronavirus relief, including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Martha McSally of Arizona and Joni Ernst of Iowa. And McConnell tried to cast Democrats who opposed the procedural motion as obstructionists.
McSally, who is considered the most vulnerable GOP senator this year, put out a statement immediately after the vote touting her attempts to help Arizona small businesses, keep kids safe and save jobs.
“The gridlock demonstrated by today’s partisan vote is exactly why Americans are frustrated with Washington,” McSally said. “The coronavirus knows no party lines and I’d ask Congress to come together in a bipartisan way to defeat this virus, just as we asked millions of Americans across the country to come together in their own communities.”
Though both sides say they want a bipartisan deal, it’s unclear when or if bipartisan talks will resume to pass a coronavirus relief bill.
Fox News’ Jason Donner contributed to this report.