Following the initial round of $8.3 billion in emergency funding that both sides in Congress agreed to for developing a response to the Coronavirus outbreak, House Democrats have been developing a second round of funding including provisions like a major boost — around $1 billion — to state unemployment insurance programs. That and other included plans like around half a billion for the food purchasing assistance program known as SNAP constitute a plan to protect those vulnerable to the economic upheaval of the Coronavirus, and this Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) straightforwardly indicated that she would not be launching into some kind of protracted partisan stand-off with Republicans over the details. Instead, she’s pushing ahead.
‘I don’t want to stick around because they don’t want to agree to language. Everybody could have a complaint about this or that. Save it for another day… I don’t think we would wait until there’s a signed bill. We will have done our work, and we hope that that would be an incentive for the Senate to move quickly.’
‘Leader McConnell asked me to work with Secretary Mnuchin. We are. He had his concerns, we’re addressing them. I hope they don’t move the goalposts… We don’t need 48 hours. We need to just make a decision to help families right now.’
The House has apparent plans to completely adjourn following their vote on the Coronavirus response legislation that she was discussing, leaving the Senate in the spotlight with the impetus to act. Until this afternoon, the Senate hadn’t even been planning to stick around — instead, they were originally opting to only consider additional Coronavirus relief after a recess that was going to clock in at almost two weeks long. (They’ll now be sticking around.)
As the Speaker mentions, Senate Republicans punted handling their side of the negotiations to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who’s been in repeated consultation with Pelosi over the details of the plan, which became available late Wednesday.
Pelosi acknowledged some amendment proposals from Mnuchin’s side and explained:
‘I think that none of them would prevent us from moving forward with the bill.’
Meanwhile — Congressional Republicans have been quite vocally publicly complaining, like they’re chomping at the bit to launch a partisan face-off. On Thursday, McConnell commented:
‘Unfortunately, it appears at this hour that the Speaker and House Democrats instead chose to produce an ideological wish list that was not tailored closely to the circumstances.’
And separately, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has also insisted that he wouldn’t support the legislation in question as it stands at present. McCarthy commented to reporters:
‘The country is looking to the government to come together and meet these challenges, but the bill that we saw that just came forth last night at 11 p.m. comes up short.’
To be clear — McConnell and McCarthy are deriding a plan as “ideological” that wants to ensure that vulnerable families can eat in the absence of other income sources, among other things.
Major organization after major organization across the U.S. are temporarily shuttering or drawing back operations — and the Republicans are concerned about politics.