Senate Democrats used the absence of five Republican senators to their political advantage Sunday, stalling a coronavirus relief package because it did not include everything they wanted.
Although Republicans have a majority in the Senate, five GOP members were in self-quarantine after having been exposed to COVID-19, including Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who tested positive for the virus.
“The build-up to this is that we had a high level of bipartisanship over the last 48 hours … And then, all of a sudden, the Democratic leader and the speaker of the House shows up … and we’re back to square one,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, referring to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to Fox News.
“I want everybody to understand that if we aren’t able to act [Monday], it’s because of our colleagues on the other side, continue to dicker,” he said.
“So we’re fiddling here, fiddling with the emotions of the American people, fiddling with the markets, fiddling with our health care,” McConnell said, according to NBC.
Pelosi took “a week off,” McConnell said and then “poured cold water on the whole process.”
After the House’s weeklong recess, Pelosi announced Democrats would be “introducing our own bill” to confront the crisis.
McConnell said Pelosi is overreaching by meddling in the Senate’s legislation.
“She’s the speaker of the House, not the speaker of the Senate,” he said.
McConnell also said Schumer interfered with getting the package passed.
“He’s been unwilling to reach an agreement that his rank-and-file members and ours had pretty much reached,” McConnell said, according to The Hill.
McConnell said he will bring the package up again and “hopefully some adults will show up on the other side of the room and understand the gravity of the situation before the markets go down further 11 … we’ve never been confronted by anything like this before,” according to Fox News.
But Democrats had their focus on politics.
“We’re not here to create a slush fund for Donald Trump and his family, or a slush fund for the Treasury Department to be able to hand out to their friends. We’re here to help workers, we’re here to help hospitals,” Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said.
Warren attacked a proposed $500 billion fund for companies.
“This is not a bipartisan proposal,” Warren said., according to CNN “This is a Republican proposal.”
The $1.4 trillion package is designed to help businesses and families impacted by the economic ripples from the coronavirus outbreak.
— Jesse Hunt (@JJHunt10) March 22, 2020
The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a statement accusing Pelosi, Schumer and Senate Democrats of “partisan fervor to thwart a critical coronavirus relief package while our country faces a crippling pandemic.”
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