Both parties are playing a dangerous political game that’s keeping aid from locked-down and struggling Americans.
For the second time in less than a day, Senate Democrats have blocked the passage of a massive coronavirus stimulus bill.
Both times, congressional Democrats criticized the Republican proposal as providing undue financial relief to corporations and big businesses. Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has introduced her own $2.5 trillion proposal in Congress’s other chamber.
Vox.com reports that Pelosi’s bill is tentatively entitled “Take Responsibility for Workers and Family Act.” In it, Pelosi outlined a series of demands and Democratic priorities which are not yet included in the Senate version.
First among Pelosi’s demands, says, Vox, is that any attempt to negotiate an economic stimulus package be truly bipartisan. Right now, the Senate endeavor has been led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who’s actively kept Democrats out of negotiations.
Democrats, by and large, are worried that any substantial bail-out for big businesses will be used to pad corporate bottom lines instead of ensuring employee welfare.
“Democrats take responsibility for our workers; we require any corporation that takes taxpayer dollars must protect their workers’ wages and benefits,” Pelosi said on Monday. “Not CEO pay, stock buybacks, or layoffs.”
Right now, Pelosi enjoys an arguably advantageous position—the Senate stimulus bill needs at least 60 votes to pass. And with several Republican senators in quarantine and self-isolation, Democrats wield outsized influence for their minority position.
Needless to say, Senate Republicans have aggressively pushed back against Pelosi’s pressure tactics. McConnell, for instance, has accused liberals of using coronavirus to push a supposedly “radical” agenda.
“Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals and save small businesses unless they get the dust off the Green New Deal,” McConnell said.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) agreed, attempting to posit McConnell’s Republican-dominated proposal as a bipartisan creation.
“Let’s be clear about what’s happening right now,” Scalise wrote on Twitter. “We had a bipartisan deal to deliver critical relief to hardworking families until Nancy Pelosi blew it up so she could play politics.
“Enough already!” Scalise added. “We’re in the middle of a national emergency. Drop the partisan demands.”
Vox suggests that Pelosi’s bill, perhaps more than anything, is meant to bring conservatives back to reality: even if they can swing enough Democratic votes to heave their proposal into the House, they can’t push it past the finish line without Pelosi’s cooperation.
In other words, the Republican-led Senate must adjust its proposal to avoid further complications. Pelosi’s bill, notes Vox, is practically a “mission statement for how Democrats might govern in this crisis if they weren’t constrained” by their conservative counterparts alongside the White House. It mandates, among other things, that coronavirus patients receive free medical treatment; it also contains provisions directing billions of dollars in aid to schools, universities, and unemployment funds.