House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Tuesday blasted Senate Republicans’ latest “skinny” coronavirus stimulus package as nothing more than a cheap, political save-face.
The paltry $300 billion proposal is less than 1/3 of the $1 trillion package that Republicans in the upper chamber were promulgating before they absconded for their August recess (they still got paid – by taxpayers), having allowed the $600 per week Pandemic Unemployment Assistance lifeline to expire on July 31 with nothing to replace it.
McConnell’s latest package is “a targeted proposal that focuses on several of the most urgent aspects of this crisis, the issues where bipartisanship should be especially possible,” the Majority Leader said Tuesday as his caucus returned to Washington.
The bill “would provide $105 billion to help schools reopen, enact a shield against lawsuits for businesses and others that are powering ahead to reopen, create a scaled-back $300-per-week supplemental jobless benefit, and write off $10 billion in earlier debt at the U.S. Postal Service. There’s $31 billion for a coronavirus vaccine, $16 billion for virus testing and $15 billion to help child care providers reopen. There is additionally $20 billion for farmers,” The Chicago Tribune explained.
But what about that second $1,200 check that everyone had agreed upon? McConnell axed it from his bill. No soup for you.
The House is scheduled to reconvene next Monday and is not taking McConnell’s alms even remotely seriously.
Thus, in a joint statement, Pelosi and Schumer held no punches:
In May, while the American people and small businesses were crying out for help in dealing with a pandemic and recession, Sen. McConnell dismissed their needs, saying that Senate Republicans would ‘take a pause’ and ‘wait and see.’ Now, after months of inaction, Republicans are finally realizing the damage their pause has done to the American economy and our nation’s health. As they scramble to make up for this historic mistake, Senate Republicans appear dead-set on another bill which doesn’t come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere. If anyone doubts McConnell’s true intent is anything but political, just look at the bill. This proposal is laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support.
Instead of helping state and local workers facing layoffs, feeding hungry families, providing adequate funding for testing and treatment to fight the pandemic, helping renters keep the roof over the heads, stopping the dismantling of the U.S. Postal system and making sure Americans can cast their ballots safely in fair elections this November, this emaciated bill is only intended to help vulnerable Republican Senators by giving them a ‘check the box’ vote to maintain the appearance that they’re not held hostage by their extreme right-wing that doesn’t want to spend a nickel to help people. Even Leader McConnell has repeatedly stressed that twenty Republican Senators intend to do nothing in the face of this historic crisis. Democrats want to work on bipartisan legislation that will meet the urgent needs of the American people but Republicans continue to move in the wrong direction.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement, McConnell accused Democrats of standing in the way of financial relief for the public.
Everything Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer have done suggests one simple motivation: They do not want American families to see any more bipartisan aid before the polls close on President Trump’s re-election. They have taken Americans’ health, jobs, and schools hostage for perceived partisan gain.
Today, the Senate Republican majority is introducing a new targeted proposal, focused on some of the very most urgent healthcare, education, and economic issues. It does not contain every idea our party likes. I am confident Democrats will feel the same. Yet Republicans believe the many serious differences between our two parties should not stand in the way of agreeing where we can agree and making law that helps our nation.
The hypocrisy – and chutzpah – are stupifying. The House passed the sweeping $3 trillion HEROES Act in May. It is still on McConnell’s desk. From then until the August recess, Congress failed to reach a deal to pump more money into the pockets of struggling Americans, tens of millions of whom are out of work for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.