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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked Republicans' efforts to pass a slimmed down $500 billion coronavirus relief bill.

Why it matters: The bill was always going to be dead on arrival.

  • Instead, the legislation was seen widely as a political maneuver to put Democrats, who passed their $3 trillion HEROES Act in May, on defense.
  • Republicans also hope the vote will create more goodwill with the public as broader negotiations between Congress and the White House remain in a stalemate.

Details: The bill would have included an extension of the small business Paycheck Protection Program, expanded enhanced unemployment benefits, and provided more funding for schools and child care programs.

Between the lines: Republicans, who knew the bill would never pass the Senate given it covers just a fraction of what Democrats' want in a new relief package, were initially concerned the bill wouldn't even get a 51-vote majority — something that would have been seen as a major failure by the White House and Senate Republican leadership.

  • However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was able to cobble together enough votes in the 11th hour to push the tally to 52-47.
  • Every GOP senator, apart from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), voted in favor of the legislation. Every Senate Democrat voted against the package.

The other side: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have said the proposal "is laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support."

  • Earlier today at her weekly press conference, Pelosi said: “Let’s not have a skinny bill when we have a massive problem."

Go deeper: Senate Republicans to vote on skinny bill amid stimulus deadlock

Go deeper

Scoop: Democrats try to tuck Pentagon waiver into spending bill

Gen. Lloyd Austin speaks after being formally nominated to be Defense secretary. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Democrats are trying to tuck a waiver allowing retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as President-elect Joe Biden's defense secretary into a year-end government funding bill that must pass by tonight to avoid a shutdown, three sources familiar with the push tell Axios.

Why it matters: Attaching the waiver to the omnibus would give political cover to some Democrats, including at least four on the Senate Armed Services Committee who have already gone on record opposing it.

Updated Dec 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Lawmakers receive COVID-19 vaccine

McConnell (L) and Pelosi (R). Photo: J. Scott Applewhite - Pool/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) received their first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine from the attending physician of Congress on Friday.

The latest: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) received the first dose of the vaccine on Saturday, saying afterwards, "[a]s the vaccine is being distributed, we must all continue wearing masks and engage in social distancing. That is how we will beat this virus and end this terrible pandemic.”

Updated Dec 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump signs two-day funding bill to avoid government shutdown

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump late Friday night signed the continuing resolution that will fund the federal government through Dec. 21 and temporarily avert a partial shutdown.

Why it matters: The 48-hour stopgap will also give lawmakers the weekend to resolve outstanding issues with a $900 billion coronavirus relief package and $1.4 trillion long-term spending deal.