'So meager it insults the American people': Democratic leaders say GOP COVID-19 relief plan is dead on arrival
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Gage Skidmore.)

"Senate Republicans appear dead set on another bill which doesn't come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere."


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Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday is set to unveil Covid-19 relief legislation that Democratic congressional leaders are already rejecting as a dead-on-arrival measure that is stuffed with "poison pills" and inadequate to meet the increasingly dire needs of tens of millions of jobless, hungry, and eviction-prone Americans.

"This emaciated bill is only intended to help vulnerable Republican senators by giving them a 'check the box' vote to maintain the appearance that they're not held hostage by their extreme right wing."

—Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

In a joint statement issued shortly after McConnell (Ky.) announced he will hold a procedural vote on the measure later Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, "Senate Republicans appear dead set on another bill which doesn't come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere."

While the legislation has not yet been released in full, reporting indicates the bill will propose a $300-per-week federal boost to unemployment benefits—half of the supplement Republicans allowed to expire at the end of July—a liability shield for corporations that expose workers and customers to Covid-19, funding for a school privatization effort, money for small businesses, and other provisions.

Schumer and Pelosi said the Senate GOP proposal, which would need some Democratic support to pass, "is laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support."

"Instead of helping state and local workers facing layoffs, feeding hungry families, providing adequate funding for testing and treatment to fight the pandemic, helping renters keep the roof over the heads, stopping the dismantling of the U.S. Postal system, and making sure Americans can cast their ballots safely in fair elections this November," said Pelosi and Schumer, "this emaciated bill is only intended to help vulnerable Republican senators by giving them a 'check the box' vote to maintain the appearance that they're not held hostage by their extreme right wing that doesn't want to spend a nickel to help people."

In an interview with Bloomberg, Pelosi said the Republican plan "is so meager it insults the American people."

"We know we have to compromise," Pelosi added, "but get real, Mitch McConnell."

The GOP's latest relief proposal will come as stimulus talks between the White House, McConnell, and Democratic leaders have been stalled for weeks even as the U.S. economy remains in deep recession, with millions of Americans now permanently unemployed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and continued legislative inaction.

In May, the Democrat-controlled House passed a $3 trillion bill that would revive the $600-per-week federal unemployment supplement, provide another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, and approve $1 trillion in aid to struggling state and local governments. McConnell has refused to allow a Senate vote on the HEROES Act, which he dismissed as an "unserious liberal wish list."

"This man has been blocking the HEROES Act for 116 days," Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, tweeted in response to McConnell's vote announcement Tuesday. "Do not forget that."