Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is laying down the law and refusing to allow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats to hijack coronavirus relief packages.
The Kentucky Republican said in a statement Monday that the next coronavirus aid package should focus on “concrete steps to strengthen our response to this complex crisis” in an apparent rejection of plans by Democrats to bail out states with hundreds of billions of dollars that could be used to replenish long-underfunded pension plans.
“We cannot get distracted by preexisting partisan wish lists or calls to paper over decades of reckless decisions that had nothing to do with COVID-19,” McConnell said.
McConnell did not specifically mention the new Democratic proposal, which Democrats say will rival the $2.2 trillion CARES Act.
Democrats say they want to provide states and local governments with hundreds of billions of dollars to make up for significant economic losses caused by the coronavirus.
Pelosi is also calling for Congress to provide minimum basic income in order to extend federal aid beyond the next two months.
McConnell said that is not going to happen.
“The American people do not need tangential, left-wing daydreams,” McConnell said. “They need commonsense steps that move us toward the response, recovery, and future-readiness that Americans need and deserve.”
McConnell announced that the Senate will reconvene for legislative business next Monday and would start working on “urgent needs” that include preventing “opportunistic lawsuits” against businesses and healthcare professionals.
“While our nation is asking everyone from front-line healthcare professionals to essential small-business owners to major employers to adapt in new ways and keep serving, a massive tangle of federal and state laws could easily mean their heroic efforts are met with years of endless lawsuits,” McConnell said.
“We cannot let that happen. Our nation is facing the worst pandemic in over a century and potentially the worst economic shock since the Great Depression. Our response must not be slowed, weakened, or exploited to set up the biggest trial lawyer bonanza in history.”
While House Democrats refusing to come back to work, many liberal lawmakers are still finding time to go after the president.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and his allies are planning to propose a resolution called “The No PR Act,” which would remove Trump’s signature from all future relief checks from the COVID-19 response.
Last week, Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee have launched an investigation into Trump’s decision to halt funding to the World Health Organization in response to the group’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump announced the halt in funding earlier this month, arguing he did not want to send taxpayer money to WHO after their “botched effort” in handling the pandemic and cozy relationship with China, where the coronavirus originated.
Leading U.S. health officials have echoed Trump’s claim, saying foreign nations would have been better prepared to deal with the pandemic had China and world health leaders been more transparent during the early days of the outbreak.
“You have to increase your level of reporting and transparency,” Dr. Deborah Birx said in April. “Because it’s a new disease, every word and every experience that you have becomes very critical.”