Schumer slams ‘inadequate’ GOP coronavirus stimulus plan
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday panned a coronavirus stimulus plan introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as “inadequate,” signaling that bipartisan negotiations could drag on for a few days.
Earlier in the day, McConnell gave Republican and Democratic negotiators until midnight to come up with a bipartisan agreement in principle, but Democrats are already strongly objecting to the $1 trillion GOP proposal, which President Trump supports.
“Leader McConnell’s proposal does not do nearly enough to address the public health crisis in terms of hospitals, medical supplies, beds, doctors, nurses, measures to ensure that Americans can access and afford coronavirus treatment,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
Schumer has called for a “Marshall Plan for our hospitals,” referring to the U.S.-led plan to rebuild Europe after World War II, and asserted Friday that the Senate GOP plan does little to put money into expanding hospital capacity in the event that coronavirus infections jump dramatically.
Republicans have told Democrats they can boost health care spending in an emergency supplement appropriations bill that Senate GOP leaders hope to pass along with the phase three stimulus package, but Schumer has rejected the idea.
“Later is no good,” he said.
The Democratic leader also criticized the GOP plan for including major tax breaks for businesses, such as deferring the employer side of payroll taxes until 2021 and 2022, and dramatically easing the ability of businesses to claim losses against prior years’ income.
“Leader McConnell’s proposal is also skewed in favor of corporations rather than the workers and families who much more urgently and acutely feel the pain in reduced hours and unemployment,” Schumer said.
He and other Democrats are objecting to provisions in the GOP plan that would further empower the secretary of Labor to exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees from paid sick leave requirements passed last week by the House.
They also say the GOP plan fails to adequately expand unemployment benefits, a core piece of the Democratic stimulus plan.
“Leader McConnell’s proposal includes a few ideas that shouldn’t be included at all, such as tax cuts for multinational corporations and restrictions on paid sick leave that Congress just expanded,” Schumer said.
The Democratic leader instead is offering a plan to provide “unemployment insurance on steroids” while modifying federal programs so that workers won’t have to be fired to collect benefits. Schumer is proposing unemployment benefits to allow employers to furlough workers and then bring them back to their jobs once the health crisis has passed.
He said every worker who is unemployed should get a paycheck equal to what they were earning before the crisis, paid for by the federal government.
“That way business, small, medium, large can put them on furlough and then when the crisis is over, they’re back but there’s money in their pockets,” he said.
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