McConnell Kicked Out Of Final COVID-19 Negotiations

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Ahead of the development of the currently on deck third Coronavirus relief funding package, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was slowly but surely pressured out of negotiations, a new report in the Los Angeles Times outlines. Over this past weekend, the report explains, “the administration, anxious for a deal, was already reaching out to” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and he and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin worked together to hash out the details of the bill that the Senate eventually passed and which headed to the House for a vote on Friday. McConnell was “effectively sidelined for much of the final days” of the negotiations, the report explains.

It’s not for a lack of trying. He came out in the early days of negotiations with a comprehensive plan that was meant to make up for Republican priorities getting somewhat sidelined during previous rounds of negotiation. On Sunday and Monday, McConnell led a pair of procedural votes to advance a version of the stimulus package that was endorsed by his Republican colleagues, but both of those votes failed.

After complaints from McConnell about Democrats’ delays of the process, Schumer himself delivered a biting response on the Senate floor pointing out that the Majority Leader was in no place to be speaking as pompously as he was. Schumer commented:

‘The negotiations continue no more than 30 feet away from the floor of the Senate in our offices where the real progress is taking place. Once we have an agreement that everyone can get behind, we are prepared to speed up the consideration of that agreement on the floor.’

Eventually, after Schumer and Mnuchin announced that they’d finalized their deal, McConnell was “relegated to role of announcing the deal a short time later on the Senate floor.” For a time, a handful of Republican Senators raised an issue with the bill, harping on with the classically Republican objection to expanding unemployment benefits. The group, including Senators like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Florida’s Rick Scott, said that they were concerned with expanded unemployment benefits potentially providing people an incentive to not go into work at all. However, down in reality, the benefits gave mere hundreds of dollars extra to workers, and part of the current point is that millions of people can’t go into work at all because of closures meant to stem the spread of the Coronavirus.

Eventually, the stimulus package passed the Senate with unanimous consent. In the House, conservative Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky threatened to hold up the passage of the bill by demanding a roll call, in-person vote as opposed to unanimous consent, and he quickly attracted the wrath of Trump, who suggested that Massie should be thrown out of the Republican Party entirely.

The package, as it stands at present, is slated to deliver large sums to struggling businesses and corporations, ranging from small businesses to airlines. It’s also slated to support hospitals and medical facilities around the country, and payments to individual Americans are also included.