During an appearance this Tuesday on the radio show of conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed the idea of developing a new Coronavirus relief funding package — on the same day that President Donald Trump himself suggested that he’d actually be keen on such an idea. The GOP should really work on reining in their intraparty chaos. McConnell suggested that Democrats would use the Coronavirus relief process to pass a partisan list of agenda items, although that claim flatly does not correspond to the relief work that Democrats have been doing.
McConnell insisted, in reference to the question of whether a new Coronavirus relief funding bill would be developed soon:
‘I think we need to wait a few days here, a few weeks, and see how things are working out. Let’s see how things are going and respond accordingly. I’m not going to allow this to be an opportunity for the Democrats to achieve unrelated policy items that they would not otherwise be able to pass.’
Again — there’s no indication that Democrats actually would be seeking to pass partisan agenda items.
Republicans raised a ruckus at the time of the most recent Coronavirus relief bill’s passage, but the items that Democrats advocated for were important to the responsible development and distribution of the aid in question. For example, contrary to Republican assertions, they did not try to include the “entire Green New Deal” in the package. Rather, they included demands for efficiency and environmental responsibility on the part of companies like airlines that were gearing up to get huge government checks. Unregulated, unfiltered corporate slush funds are not a good idea.
The most recent relief also includes expansion of unemployment benefits, direct checks to some Americans, and financial support for small businesses. McConnell commented this Tuesday:
‘First, we need to see what the effect of the current bill is. The Treasury, of course, is wrestling with all this complicated effort to speed checks to individuals and small businesses to get us through this period until the health care pandemic begins to subside.’
Meanwhile, Trump himself expressed interest in using the current negotiations period to secure an infrastructure support bill. There’s been talk of an “Infrastructure Week” and an infrastructure deal for years. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted:
‘With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill.’
With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2020
In a Monday conference call with reporters, Pelosi echoed similar sentiments. She commented:
‘There are infrastructure needs that our country has that directly relate to how we are proceeding with the coronavirus. And we would like to see in what comes next something that has always been nonpartisan, bipartisan, and that is an infrastructure piece that takes us into the future.’
Coronavirus response-related infrastructure needs include the provision of broadband internet across the U.S., which could facilitate so-called telemedicine work and assist in overcoming the lengthy school closures around the country. With the Senate on recess until April 20 and the president seemingly refusing to talk to Pelosi, it’s far from clear that an infrastructure bill would ever materialize.