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Partisan fury in Senate as talks over stimulus bill break down

Here are excerpts from a current article in the Washington Post. They have been heavily edited and abridged for brevity.

The Senate floor devolved into near-screaming matches on Monday as lawmakers expressed fury about their failed efforts to reach an agreement on a $2 trillion spending bill to address the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy.

McConnell accused Democrats of trying to add extraneous provisions sought by special interests and organized labor; Democrats complained that the legislation was tilted too far toward helping corporations and didn’t do enough for health care workers or people who had lost their jobs.

The fiery developments reflected what was at stake as well as rising tensions in the Senate over the nation’s predicament and what’s happening in the Senate itself, where Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced Sunday he has covid-19 and four other GOP senators are quarantined. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) disclosed Monday that her husband, too, is infected with the virus.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) advised everyone to “assume the appropriate distance and take a deep breath” and also said the Senate needed to figure out how to vote remotely, something McConnell has opposed. “We should not be physically present on this floor at this moment,” Durbin said.

Monday’s talks got underway the morning after Senate Democrats voted to block the bill from advancing, infuriating Republicans. Democrats have alleged the bill does too much to help prop up businesses without directing enough money to households, hospitals and health professionals. White House officials have acknowledged the unprecedented assistance the legislation would steer toward corporations, but they have said this money would help protect millions of jobs.

The legislation aims to flood the economy with money, from individuals to small businesses to large industries amid a wave of layoffs and a sharp contraction in consumer spending. It would direct $1,200 to most adults and $500 to most children. It would also create a $500 billion lending program for businesses, cities and states and another $350 billion to help small businesses meet payroll costs.

Senators have been trying unsuccessfully to reach a deal since McConnell released the sweeping legislation Thursday night. One deadline after another has been missed. Democrats have complained the bill assembled by Senate Republicans gives too many benefits to corporations with little oversight of how the money is spent.

Trump on Sunday seemed to acknowledge Democrats’ concerns, while insisting he did not want to offer bailouts: “I don’t want to give a bailout to a company and then have somebody go out and use that money to buy back stock in the company and raise the price and then get a bonus,” Trump said Sunday at the White House. “So I may be Republican, but I don’t like that. I want them to use the money for the workers.”

Democrats have argued that without protections for workers, companies receiving bailout money could fire their employees and pocket the taxpayer assistance, which would undermine the purpose of the federal aid. Republicans have said the program needs to be up and running immediately to help the economy before it is too late.

The partisan friction on Capitol Hill partly results from lingering resentments among Senate Republicans over the last coronavirus relief bill, a $100-billion-plus package enacted last week and negotiated between Pelosi and Mnuchin. Many Senate Republicans were unhappy with paid sick leave provisions in that bill but voted for it anyway.

Personal "no comment": "Senate Republicans were unhappy with paid sick leave"


  • edited March 23
    This should have been a no-brainer which to me demonstrates clearly that politicians have less than that. I feel that they absolutely must first get the help and aid into the hands of those that need it and the healthcare items needed to get the country through the immediate health concerns. That group would be the poor, those who've lost their jobs, the disadvantaged in general and others who need the most help. This is what will do the most good. They can argue about all the remaining crap on their own time. People first! That trickle-down nonsense has already demonstrated again for the umpteenth time how it doesn't work. Lordy!
  • My 2 cents. To get things rolling, throw some cash into state unemployment funds. No waiting week. No "porking" in this bill !
  • edited March 23
    From The Guardian:

    "Trump signals change in coronavirus strategy that could clash with health experts"

    And now as Trump and his friends take note of the damage to their hotels, golf courses, and other investments he begins the waffle dance: Maybe after 15 days we can go back to normal; Maybe the cure is worse than the disease.

    What a miserable cretin.
  • A couple good quotes:
    Summing it all up was Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.), who took his turn on the Senate floor, shaking his head before declaring: “This country was founded by geniuses but it’s being run by a bunch of idiots.”

    “You know what the American people are thinking right now?” Kennedy inquired rhetorically. “They’re thinking that the brain is an amazing organ. It starts working in a mother’s womb and it doesn’t stop working til you get elected to Congress.”
  • Just precious. It needed to be said.
  • Old_Joe said:

    From The Guardian:

    "Trump signals change in coronavirus strategy that could clash with health experts"

    And now as Trump and his friends take note of the damage to their hotels, golf courses, and other investments he begins the waffle dance: Maybe after 15 days we can go back to normal; Maybe the cure is worse than the disease.

    What a miserable cretin.

    It's out of his hands now. Not sure it was ever in his hands. The governors are acting on their own to shut things down.
  • 40% of the country will follow his back-to-usual lead, and talk about a rebound in illness

    actually rebound is the wrong word, innit
  • Tweety Amin may want to re-open the economy, but will enough people actually start going out to public places to make the economic benefits work?

    Or, more likely, will he moronically re-open things and end up making the problem worse for everyone?

    My money's on the latter.
  • people will

    and yes, worse for everyone

    this is not like a blizzard or a hurricane
  • A good friend of mine has forwarded me a letter which he has sent to our Congressional representative, Jackie Speier. I've shortened it a bit, but he raises some very critical issues which I hadn't even considered.

    The Presidential succession:
    What happens if both Trump and Pence become gravely ill or die? The corona virus threatens all citizens, especially those in the over 60 age group. The President and Vice President are appearing together on the same stage in a room full of reporters.

    If both are unable to carry out the duties of the Presidency, Nancy Pelosi is the next in line. She is currently appearing among crowds of reporters who are badgering her and sticking microphones in her face. If she becomes ill, the next in line of succession are Chuck Grassley, then Mike Pompeo and the rest of the (Republican) Cabinet.

    At this time, she should sequester herself and turn over House management to Congressman Hoyer or whoever would be the appropriate Democrat.

    The Democratic campaign for President:
    Since Biden now has a commanding lead, Sanders should concede and eliminate the need for further primaries and the convention, both of which bring together large groups of people and threaten widespread exposure to the virus. Biden could name his running mate, and the Democratic National Committee could nominate him by acclamation.

    The Democratic candidates for President and Vice President, including Sanders, should isolate themselves to minimize the chance of becoming infected.

    The liberal Supreme Court Justices:
    If Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and/or Kagan become ill and are forced to retire, Trump will have a free hand in replacing them with conservative justices and lock in an irrevocably conservative Court for generations to come. They need to be protected from the virus however possible.

  • Before the Clinton/Newt era, this stuff wasn't so extreme nor protracted. The Repugnants decided to make radical Right-ism and obstruction their modus operandi. Trump is the apex, but he also represents adolescent backlash and deliberate anti-intellectualism and hateful rejection of all that is non-white and non-christian. "Christian," in his case, needs to be within quotation marks, though.
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