Will you become a member to support our work?
From now to December 16, we are asking people who are not members to join Forward Kentucky. We believe the work we do is important; if you agree, please help it keep going. Go to the membership page to join today. Thanks!
It’s been 182 days since the House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, and46 days since the House passed a compromise $2.2 trillion bill, both of which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to take up for a vote. As of right now, there are zero conversations happening between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the White House, and McConnell, though the latter is still happily finger-pointing, blaming Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer for the impasse – never mind the fact that not only did McConnell refuse to take up the House bills, he refused any and all negotiations with the House on pandemic relief.
He did try to bring up a “skinny” poison-pill package twice, a package that he knew was too anemic to pass muster with Democrats. It was intended only to give Republicans the ability to say they voted for something ahead of the election, and to give him the chance to say it was blocked by Democrats. McConnell also said he wants another bill. McConnell is a proven liar. Instead, he’s spending this month on jamming through more controversial, unqualified judicial nominees.
With just two weeks’ worth of legislative working days left, the stakes couldn’t be higher right now, and many of the CARES Act provisions expire completely at the end of the year (in 44 days). That includes: Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, the extra 13 weeks of unemployment insurance (UI) authorized for states; Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for gig workers and self-employed; student loan forbearance; the moratorium on evictions; small business debt relief; and emergency funding for state and local governments, such as it was. The $1,200 checks Americans received are in the faraway past at this point. This entire safety net, raggedy as it is months into this public health and economic crisis, is going away.
One Republican, Sen.Rob Portman of Ohio, says he’s trying to get some kind of bipartisan “gang” together to provide for a “targeted, effective program that deals with what we have to deal with now, to get through this valley, really, between now and March.” Unless that “targeted” approach comes with trillions of dollars to help — well, everyone — it’s not going to do much. Portman is pretending like we’re not at the worst stage of this crisis yet and that the millions of struggling people can hold on until March. He’s pretending like the promise of two vaccines coming soon solves everything.
He’s focused on the vaccines, saying that federal funding to accelerate vaccine development and distribution is “the best expenditure of taxpayer money that I can think of.” As if people going hungry and living in their cars, and getting sick and dying alone in hospitals too understaffed to provide care, isn’t happening right now. “This is so important,” he says. “It’s a much better solution than lockdowns; it’s a much better solution than keeping people out of school and out of their churches and other places of worship. It’s the most important single thing, in my view.” While the pandemic is raging out of control. While thousands of people are dying.
This is going to give him and Susan Collins and all the “concerned” Republican senators something to pretend they’re doing, anyway. Something Mitch McConnell will swat away.