The coronavirus pandemic and resulting quarantine measures have done massive damage to the American economy, and in response, Senate Republicans have put forward a financial relief package designed to soften the blow.
But Democrats are continuing to block the legislation and make additional demands, the Washington Examiner reports, arguing that the current form of the bill is too favorable to businesses and doesn’t do enough to protect workers.
In addition to providing individuals with direct cash payments, the Republican bill earmarks a $110 billion injection for healthcare facilities.
As much as $350 billion dollars of assistance would also be allocated to help small businesses, while another $500 billion would be directed to large corporations devastated by the downturn, according to the Examiner. Furthermore, the bill would empower the Treasury secretary to loan up to $4 trillion to affected businesses in an effort to preserve liquidity.
Dems voice opposition
According to an unnamed Senate aid who spoke with the Washington Examiner, Democrats believe that the legislation does not include adequate safeguards to prevent businesses from firing workers.
“The language says corporations must keep employees ‘to the extent possible,’ which means they can keep the bailout money and still fire workers,” the individual was quoted as saying.
Another reported point of contention has to do with uncertainty over whether Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could “give money to Trump properties,” referencing the Trump Organization’s vast real estate and hospitality holdings, which will almost certainly be negatively impacted by the economic slowdown.
The decision by Democrats to hamper passage of the bill has provoked outrage on Capitol Hill, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivering an uncharacteristically emotional speech on Sunday.
McConnell complained that “at a time when the country is crying out for bipartisanship and cooperation,” Democrats were engaged in “outrageous nonsense.”
“We have an obligation to the American people to deal with this emergency, and to deal with it tomorrow,” McConnell insisted as he spoke on the Senate floor. “And if we don’t, I want you to fully understand that we’ve seen everybody who is on record.
“Now I have conspicuously avoided trying to turn this into any kind of partisan effort for 2 days. But it’s pretty clear what’s going on here,” he added. McConnell has expressed specific frustration over his opposition’s insistence on the inclusion of a “Democratic wish list” that included tax breaks for solar energy firms, heightened airline emissions standards, and assorted workplace measures favored by labor unions, The Hill reported.
Democrats blocked McConnell from holding a vote on the bill Monday morning immediately after the markets opened, according to The Hill, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) suggested that an agreement might be possible by the afternoon.