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McConnell decides Senate is done working after ramming through Supreme Court justice

They’ve accomplished nothing on COVID relief.

By Josh Israel - October 27, 2020
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent the Senate home on Monday night, without any action on COVID-19 relief.

After ramming through the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a lifetime Supreme Court appointment, the Republican majority adjourned the Senate until Nov. 9. This will mean no action to address the pandemic and the economic crisis it has caused until after the election, at the earliest.

In May, the Democratic House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion emergency package, providing $75 billion for coronavirus treatment, testing, and tracing, funds for child care, hazard pay for essential workers, and help for cash-strapped states and localities struggling to pay for core services. McConnell (R-KY) has ridiculed it as “not serious,” declared it “dead on arrival,” and blocked any action on it for more than five months.

For much of that time, McConnell dismissed calls to pass any additional legislation. In August, he bragged that his caucus’ inaction was “the reasonable thing to do” because it “allowed us to learn the coronavirus didn’t mysteriously disappear.” The following month, he offered a “skinny” $500-billion bill that included poison pill provisions that were unpalatable to Democrats, including stripping employees of their right to sue if they get sick and funneling public money to private and parochial schools. It went nowhere.

Donald Trump too opposed the House bill and said earlier this month that the Senate should focus only on confirming his Supreme Court nominee.

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” he tweeted on Oct 6. “Our Economy is doing very well. The Stock Market is at record levels, JOBS and unemployment also coming back in record numbers. We are leading the World in Economic Recovery, and THE BEST IS YET TO COME!”

Though Trump subsequently vacillated, demanding that Congress “Go big!” and pass trillions in relief, McConnell and the Republican Senate majority quickly made it clear that they had no intention of doing so.

Now, with new coronavirus cases spiking to an all-time high, millions of Americans unemployed, and existing relief programs set to expire in a few weeks, the GOP Senate has decided to do nothing again.

Last week, a New York Times/Sienna College poll last week found 72% of likely voters support a $2 trillion relief package, versus just 21% opposed — and even 56% support such a plan.

The Senate’s inaction on this and hundreds of other popular pieces of House-passed legislation could come back to haunt McConnell and his colleagues next Tuesday. Several Republican incumbents are in danger of losing their seats and election forecasters now say Democrats are favored to retake a majority in the chamber.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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