Senate

McConnell rips Democrats for blocking coronavirus stimulus package

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ripped Democrats for blocking a mammoth stimulus package from advancing on Sunday, accusing them of a “spectacle” and “playing games” with the economy.

“I want everybody to fully understand if we aren’t able to act tomorrow, it will because of our colleagues on the other side continuing to dither when the country expects us to come together and address this problem,” he said from the Senate floor.

McConnell noted that during the vote, the stock futures dropped 5 percent, adding that “the notion that we have time to play games here with the American economy and the American people is utterly absurd.”

Democrats blocked the Senate from advancing a “shell” bill, which the mammoth stimulus legislation was expected to be swapped into, arguing that there were a host of unresolved issues that made it a “non-starter” for Senate Democrats.

“So who is being partisan? He knows darn well that for this bill to pass, it needs both Democratic and Republican support,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

McConnell, at Schumer’s request, delayed the procedural vote, where three-fifths support was needed. But Schumer said the legislation “has not improved enough in the past three hours to earn the necessary votes to proceed.”

“The bill can and must continue to improve. We’re closer than we’ve been at any time over the past 48 hours to an agreement, but there are still too many problems in the proposed legislation,” Schumer said.

A senior Democratic aide pointed out nine “major problems” with the Senate bill as drafted and noted that it was “not an exhaustive list.”

At the top of it, though, is what Democrats are calling a $500 billion “corporate slush fund.” Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) had pushed to increase the $208 billion proposed in the original GOP plan to ensure distressed industries have access to capital.

“In the midst of a pandemic, Senator McConnell’s partisan stunt today was a real disservice to the American people. Democrats sat and met with Republicans in good faith over the weekend trying to hammer out a real bipartisan compromise, only to see all that work scrapped and replaced with a $500 billion slush fund with no accountability, no money for states, and no real help for hospitals,” a Senate Democratic aide told The Hill on Sunday night.

But McConnell argued that Democrats could have let the bill overcome the initial procedural hurdle and used the additional 30 hours of debate allowed under the Senate rules to keep negotiating the bill.

Democrats “would not have been disadvantaged one bit if this vote had succeeded because it would have required potentially 30 more hours of discussion, during which these seemingly endless negotiations could go on as long as they would like,” he said.

The floor drama came after Schumer, McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to try to break the stalemate.

“All of a sudden, the Democratic leader and the Speaker of the House shows up, and we’re back to square one. We’re fiddling here, fiddling with the emotions of the American people, fiddling with the markets, fiddling with our health care,” McConnell said.

“She’s the Speaker of the House, not the Speaker of the Senate. We don’t have one. We were doing just fine until that intervention,” McConnell added.

The GOP leader switched his vote — a procedural tactic that will let him bring it back up for another vote. Republicans are hoping to pass the stimulus package on Monday.

“Hopefully some adults will show up on the other side of the room and understand the gravity of this situation and the need to act before the markets go down further and the American people become even more depressed,” he said.

Tags Charles Schumer Coronavirus Kevin McCarthy Mike Crapo Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Steven Mnuchin
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