Late last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) detailed a massive piece of legislation meant as an emergency act of congress for coronavirus relief. Advertised as if it mostly helps workers laid of from their jobs as well as small businesses, the bill was blocked by Democrats who say it skews too heavily towards corporate bailout and Wall Street assistance.
On Sunday evening, after a push from McConnell, Democrats unanimously voted against the bill. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Democrats opposed it “because among other problems it includes huge bailouts without protections for people and workers and without accountability, and because it shortchanges our hospitals and health care workers who need our help.”
Now that the bill is in limbo for the foreseeable future, Schumer says he would like to make changes and come to a compromise with the assistance of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin but says “we are not yet at that point.”
In a speech following the vote, McConnell, noticeably flustered, had to say “We’re fiddling here, fiddling with the emotions of the American people, fiddling with the markets, fiddling with our health care.” He continues “We’re not immune. Coronavirus has hit the Senate today as well,” referring to Senator Rand Paul (R-TX) who announced Sunday his positive Coronavirus diagnosis.
In contrast to McConnell’s bemoaning of the partisan shortcomings of the Senate during this unprecedented crisis, Schumer feels more at ease. “Changes to the legislation are being made even as we speak,” He says. “We are closer than we have been at any point of the last 48 hours.”
The proposal would cost an estimated $1 trillion. Democrats are calling for more of those funds to be allocated to healthcare workers and hospitals, who have been notably lacking in supplies as we continue to struggle with a shortage of Coronavirus test kits and available hospital beds. In the plan’s current state, $450 billion, almost half of the estimated cost, are dedicated loans for major industries such as oil companies, hotels and casinos.
An impassioned Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said “We’re not here to create a slush fund for Donald Trump and his family, or a slush fund for the Treasury Department to be able to hand out to their friends. We’re here to help workers, we’re here to help hospitals. And right now what the Republicans proposed does neither of those.” Nearly all the Democrats agree, including Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who said the Republicans have no desire to help the common person. “In my view, right now it would be giving people unrealistic hope to proceed now. We should let people know immediately that Republicans have taken a U-turn.”