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Rob Portman And Sherrod Brown Split Votes On Republican COVID-19 Aid Package

Ohio U.S. Senator Rob Portman
J. Scott Applewhite
Associated Press
Ohio U.S. Senator Rob Portman

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) joined almost all Republicans on Thursday in voting for a $300 billion COVID-19 aid package, which failed to advance due to opposition from Democrats. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was among those who blocked legislation, which he called "emaciated," from moving forward.

Before Thursday's floor vote, Portman said he wishes the package would include business tax credits and aid for them to purchase personal protective equipment, along with additional funding for state and local governments. This bill didn't include these items.

“But it does include a lot of areas of agreement between Republicans and Democrats," Portman claims.

Instead, the Senate package contained money for testing and contact tracing, an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program small business loan program, an extra $300 per week for unemployment through the end of the year, liability protections for businesses and schools, and $105 billion for K-12 schools and higher ed.

However, Democrats immediately criticized the proposal, saying it fell short of the $3 trillion proposal that passed the Democratic-led U.S. House back in May. The Republican-led Senate found the price tag unpalatable, however, declaring it dead on arrival in that chamber.

Brown in particular criticized the GOP bill for failing to revive the $600 bonus unemployment payments, which ran out at the end of July.

The vastly-scaled-down Senate plan included some parts of the House-passed proposal, but Democrats pushed for more funding for the U.S. Postal Service and the upcoming election. With Thursday's vote, it's unlikely that a coronavirus relief measure will pass Congress before the November contest.

All Republicans except for Sen. Ron Paul (R-Ky.) voted to advance the bill, while all Democrats voted against it - save for Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who was absent.