A bill to provide assistance to Americans suffering financially during the coronavirus pandemic appears to be making progress, in spite of partisan-inspired setbacks.
Democrats rejected a $2 trillion package on Monday for the second time in 24 hours, according to NBC News, as gridlock exploded in Washington and disrupted efforts to stanch the economic bleeding caused by quarantine orders to fight COVID-19. However, inroads had reportedly been made as of Monday evening, according to The Washington Post.
Democrats scuttle relief bill
The disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic have left millions of Americans in financial distress and desperate for help, but congressional efforts to help have been hobbled by the usual partisanship. Hopes of passing the massive, nearly $2 trillion relief bill were dim Monday as Democrats rejected the bill for the second time in as many days.
The bill currently includes $1,200 checks for American adults and $500 for children, as well as some hundreds of billions in loans to prop up businesses weathering the pandemic. Democrats had already blocked a procedural vote on Sunday 47–47, and tempers flared again Monday as senators struggled to break the impasse, The Hill reported.
Democrats have trained their sights on a so-called “slush fund” that they say would inure to the benefit of corporations while leaving workers in the lurch. But Republicans have said that Democrats are holding up desperately needed financial assistance for Americans by demanding irrelevant grab-bag items having to do with climate change and other pet policy projects of the left, with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) complaining:
Tax credits for solar energy and wind energy. Provisions to force employers to give special new treatment to Big Labor. And listen to this — new emissions standards for the airlines. Are you kidding me?
Pelosi floats alternative
A sticking point has been the topic of corporate bailouts and stock buybacks. Democrats say that Republicans are not doing enough to restrict how corporate bailout monies would be distributed.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) floated a separate House bill Monday that came under fire from conservatives as the Senate negotiations continued to stall.
The 1,000-page bill ties together funding with progressive priorities like “diversity,” the Washington Free Beacon reports. One of its provisions, for example, requires that corporations that receive stimulus money promote “diversity and inclusion initiatives for no less than [five] years after disbursement of funds.”
Trump: Get it together
Despite the bickering, both Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said a deal was getting closer on Monday evening, according to The Washington Post. President Donald Trump has called on Congress to get its act together and pass a bill as soon as possible.
“They have to get together and just stop with the partisan politics. I think that is happening,” Trump said. “I got a call a little while ago, I guess they are getting closer. It should go quickly and it must go quickly. It’s not really a choice. They don’t have a choice. They have to make a deal.”
Trump has already signed two coronavirus bills into law. The first was an $8.3 billion bill to fight the virus itself, and the second was a stimulus package to provide paid sick leave and other critical benefits for workers.
Americans need help immediately, and the Democrats’ cynical delays in providing it are nothing short of disgraceful.