The Republican-led U.S. Senate abandoned its responsibilities in the face of a spreading coronavirus outbreak.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had planned to take a recess of a week or more until some of his GOP senators realized how bad they would look, so he instead called for a recess stretching from Thursday afternoon until Monday afternoon without a legislative response to the public health emergency, reported Bloomberg.
"Donald Trump, to his credit, wants a bill," wrote Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Bernstein. "Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats want a bill containing a number of items. Trump wants a payroll tax cut. McConnell wants … well, apparently he wants to go home for the weekend."
McConnell doesn't like the House proposal or the president's proposal, but he doesn't have one of his own.
"It’s easy to understand why McConnell doesn’t want to negotiate directly with Pelosi," Bernstein wrote. "Even though a compromise bill supported by both of them would easily pass both chambers by veto-proof margins, it’s the kind of action that would put him in line for criticism from Trump — perhaps right away for supposedly failing to make a good deal, or perhaps later on if things go badly."
McConnell surely understands that his Senate majority and Trump's re-election are tied to their ability to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, but Bernstein said his political cowardice carries potentially grave consequences.
"What exactly would be the Senate Republican response to the events of this last week?" he wrote. "And if they don’t have any idea, why exactly are they in office?"