Senate Republicans are apparently preparing to drag their feet even more dramatically while dealing with a Coronavirus relief funding package that the House initially passed days ago at this point. Coronavirus cases have been ballooning in the days that the Senate spent on a long weekend break — according to one count, confirmed cases in the U.S. have now passed 4,000 — but, the Senate is still delaying their action anyway. POLITICO reports that the Senate is not expected to “get around to the coronavirus bill until MID- to LATE WEEK” — even though McConnell proclaimed in a pompous weekend tweet that the legislation was an urgent priority.
My statement on the urgent priorities before the Senate this week and beyond: pic.twitter.com/vUiiqrqEdZ
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) March 16, 2020
Early Monday, POLITICO reported:
‘Tonight at 5:30 p.m., the Senate will have a procedural vote on a bill to renew the FISA laws. The chamber will finish that bill. If any senator wants to bring up the coronavirus bill before they finish FISA, it would require unanimous consent. Sen. DICK DURBIN (D-Ill.) called on Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL to pass the bill by UC in a pretty extraordinary statement. LEADERSHIP AIDES BELIEVE there are GOP senators who are against the House’s coronavirus package, so unanimous consent seems unlikely.’
The publication also notes that the House itself is gearing up to make “technical corrections” to their version of the bill, which adds another wrinkle that any passage has to overcome.
For those keeping score:
The Fed can pump $700-billion into Wall Street on a Sunday.
But American working families have to hold on till Mitch McConnell decides to pull his head out of his ass at lunch on Monday.
— Scott Linnen (@ScottLinnen) March 15, 2020
Over the weekend, numerous concerned public figures including Senators derided Republican leadership for kicking the Coronavirus relief so far down the priorities list that they freely took their weekend break — which, it’s worth noting, came after an outcry over their planned break of almost two weeks, which McConnell eventually did cancel.
Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn posted an image of a Corona beer — no relation to the virus — and Hawaii’s Democratic Senator Brian Schatz poignantly publicly replied:
‘John when you are finished with that beer let’s reconvene.’
John when you are finished with that beer let’s reconvene. https://t.co/8kGsM15yvR
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) March 14, 2020
In response to a viral question asking observers what they’d be doing if they were a Senator, Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy added:
‘Voting on paid sick leave. Today. Like right now. But that’s not what I’m doing because the Senate got sent home.’
Voting on paid sick leave.
Like right now.
But that’s not what I’m doing because the Senate got sent home. https://t.co/jeeuvxwczc
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) March 15, 2020
The relief bill that McConnell and other Republicans have been holding up includes provisions like paid sick leave for many workers, although not all. It would also “provide free testing [and] extend unemployment insurance,” CNN’s Manu Raju noted. After a late endorsement from President Donald Trump himself — who apparently wasn’t even enough to galvanize Senate Republicans to act! — the legislation passed the House with significant Republican support.
363-40, House approves economic aid bill to provide relief from coronavirus outbreak. The 110-page bill, which was released right before midnight, would in part provide free testing, extend unemployment insurance and ensure paid leave for some workers. Justin Amash voted present
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 14, 2020
Trump, on his own time, has consistently attempted to downplay the Coronavirus threat. He spent weeks insisting that it would quickly vanish from the U.S. and telling his followers that concern over the situation was a hoax — and he has since formally declared a national emergency over the virus, which frees up extra resources to fight it. Among other provisions, the emergency declaration opens the door to easier Medicaid enrollment, which could help low income people access the testing and treatment that they might need.