With the United States now experiencing a COVID-19 death toll each day that is equivalent to the number of people killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the American economy in tatters, and unemployment at record levels, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has once again single-handedly blocked relief from reaching the American people.
While the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion relief bill back in May that would have funneled federal dollars to both individuals and state and locals governments in addition to the corporate welfare clients typically favored by the GOP, McConnell let the bill languish on his desk for months as President Trump continued to downplay the effects of the pandemic during his presidential campaign.
Once the election was over, the hope was that McConnell would relent and quickly pass some form of relief legislation for a citizenry in ever-increasing and desperate need of it.
Now, despite bipartisan negotiations that have led the Democrats to agree to a bill that spends just a third of what they originally approved in the House HEROES Act, McConnell is still playing hardball and remains the primary impediment to freeing up federal relief funds to prevent a wave of breadlines, home foreclosures, and evictions for a public devastated by the economic fallout of the pandemic.
The self-proclaimed grim reaper told other congressional leaders today that the current bipartisan coronavirus relief package negotiations will be rejected by the Senate Republicans that he leads.
According to Politico:
“McConnell’s staff informed House and Senate leadership staffers that the group’s attempts to marry $160 billion in state and local aid and a temporary liability shield probably won’t fly with most of the GOP, the Democrat said. Those two issues have become the primary focus for a bipartisan group of lawmakers that is trying to hammer out a $908 billion compromise.”
The line in the sand that divides the two sides all boils down to Mitch McConnell’s insistence that no corporation should ever be sued for its failures to protect its workers from the consequences of their negligence in workplace safety and his simultaneous refusal to give federal money to aid state and local governments whose coffers have been bled dry by the falling tax revenues inherent in a massive economic slowdown.
The Kentucky Senator characterizes state and local aid as a blue state bailout despite the fact that, in reality, it is the red states that take more dollars from the federal government than they contribute.
Democrats for their part are loathe to give companies that failed to protect their employees a free pass to escape liability for their harmful negligence.
With McConnell signaling that the negotiations will be worthless because he won’t agree to bring the bill as currently envisioned to a vote on the Senate floor, Congress is again at an impasse due to the obstinance of a single man.
No wonder that some Democrats are taking a page from the Trump playbook and wondering loudly on social media how McConnell could have won an election in a state where his approval ratings pre-election were at subterranean levels, pointing to electronic voting machines as a possible explanation.
If Mitch McConnell remains Senate Majority Leader in the next Congress — a distinct possibility if Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock don’t succeed in winning their Senate runoff elections in Georgia — then Joe Biden faces the same total obstructionism for his legislative agenda that President Obama faced ion the last years of his term.
After four years of Donald Trump, we need to give Biden a Democratic-controlled Senate in order to reverse the most severe damage that the orange loser has caused to our nation.
Consider making a donation to help Warnock and Ossof win their races here.
Original reporting by Burgess Everett at Politico.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.