On Tuesday, The New York Times editorial board tore into Congress for going on vacation while crucial unemployment benefits and stimulus lapsed for millions of Americans.
“Preventing this widespread suffering should be the top priority for lawmakers,” wrote the board. “Instead, the Republican-led Senate dragged its feet for months on another aid package. The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion relief plan in mid-May. It took until July 27 for the Republican Senate leaders to offer their anemic, $1 trillion counterbid, which everyone seems to have a problem with, albeit for differing reasons.”
In particular, the board focused on the antics of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is engaged in a political charade in which he proclaims himself a hapless bystander, buffeted by the whims of the White House on one side and House Democrats on the other. He is not even attending key meetings between Democratic leaders and the administration’s top negotiators,” wrote the board. “But Mr. McConnell is far from without leverage. He must make clear to his members that they need to compromise and help the millions of their fellow Americans who are stuck in miles-long food lines, a hair’s breadth from eviction, jobless, financially ruined or ill because of this terrible disease. One quick and direct way to send a message: Cancel the Senate’s August recess, or at least postpone it until a deal is reached.”
Part of the issue is that McConnell is demanding any bill include a provision giving near-total legal immunity to corporations that negligently spread COVID-19 to employees.
The board concluded that the only solution is to cancel the Senate recess. “Nothing focuses the congressional mind quite like anxiety about one’s own political fortunes. Staying in Washington until they get this crucial piece of the job done is the least that senators can do to show their solidarity with the legions of Americans who are facing far worse this summer than a canceled holiday.”
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