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McGrath: McConnell 'can't get it done' on COVID-19 relief

The Democrat challenging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate approves two energy regulators, completing panel On The Money: Biden announces key members of economic team | GOP open to Yellen as Treasury secretary, opposed to budget pick | GAO: Labor Department 'improperly presented' jobless data Senate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden's Treasury secretary MORE hit the Kentucky Republican repeatedly Monday night for failing to pass a new coronavirus relief package as many of the benefits of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed in March expire.

Amy McGrath, a former Marine combat pilot, said that if she could handle the difficulty of landing a $70 million jet on an aircraft carrier in bad weather, then passing such a measure and “doing what’s right for the American public” shouldn’t be that hard.

She noted the House passed the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act in May.

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“Sen. McConnell built a Senate that is so dysfunctional and so partisan that even in the middle of a national crisis he can’t get it done,” she said. “For that reason alone he should be voted out of office.”

She accused her opponent of a “dereliction of duty to not be negotiating and working on this.”

McGrath, who has raised tens of millions of dollars to unseat McConnell, unloaded on the GOP leader during their first and only debate Monday night.

“All summer long he took a vacation, didn’t see the urgency to do anything. Meanwhile, here in Kentucky, we have a million Kentuckians that have filed for unemployment sometime in the last six months. We have 300,000 Kentuckians that still don’t have health care in the middle of a coronavirus, and he’s walking away from negotiations,” McGrath said.

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump MORE even wants negotiations to happen before this election,” she added.  

Trump has urged Senate Republicans to “go big” and “go for the much higher numbers,” but last week he also “instructed” his representatives “to stop negotiating until after the election.”

McGrath gave the White House and Congress “an F” for their handling of the pandemic, noting that more than 200,000 Americans have died from the disease.

She again highlighted her career as a Marine aviator.

“I was a United States Marine for 20 years. When you go into combat, you don’t make excuses. You get the job done,” she said. “He’s the Senate majority leader, and all he can do right now is make excuses in the middle of a national crisis.”

She noted that in 2017, McConnell moved a major tax cut and reform bill despite Democratic opposition. She argued that he should be able to move a COVID-19 relief bill now.

“Two trillion dollars for corporations, no problem. Two trillion dollars for Kentucky in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a national crisis that we haven’t seen in 100 years, nah, that’s too hard,” McGrath said.

McConnell shot back, “My opponent is entitled to her opinion but not to her own set of facts.”

He said Republicans have been in negotiation with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases House Democrats urge congressional leaders to support .1B budget for IRS Bipartisan Senate group holding coronavirus relief talks amid stalemate MORE (D-Calif.) and that she has “been demanding we throw $3 trillion at this problem in a way that is largely in many respects unrelated to solving the problem.”

He insisted that Republicans have been trying to reach an agreement and Pelosi “has been totally unreasonable and not interested in getting an outcome.”

McConnell noted that he put a $500 billion Republican-led relief bill on the Senate floor last month but couldn’t get a single Democratic vote for it.

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“The Speaker was simply unwilling to cooperate to the extent that we could get a reasonable proposal,” McConnell said, arguing that negotiations went “on and on an on for months.”

Asked how he rated Trump’s and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) handling of the pandemic, McConnell said, “They’ve both done the best they can with an unknown disease that we all were trying to figure out to handle.”  

Monday's debate was held a day before early voting is scheduled to begin in Kentucky.