Republicans lawmakers have come out in opposition to the legislation House Speaker Nancy Pelosi planned to introduce Thursday to address the coronavirus outbreak.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said during a news conference on Capitol Hill that Pelosi’s bill, which went to the Rules Committee at 11 p.m. Wednesday night, “comes up short.”
He argued it was rushed and has some “major problems.”
The first problem McCarthy identified was the paid family leave the legislation proposes.
“Under Pelosi’s bill, the Social Security Administration will be set up to administer the paid sick leave program,” he said. “This will take six months, so it won’t work in time. It also will hamper the administration from putting out Social Security for those who need it right now in harm’s way.”
“This will hurt the very population that we’re supposed to be helping,” McCarthy added. “It forces permanent paid sick leave for all businesses without exemptions and no sunsets.”
The coronavirus has had its greatest impact among the elderly population.
The minority leader noted that because the law has no sunset provision, its paid sick leave provision places an unfunded mandate on businesses that could go on in perpetuity.
Pelosi’s bill dictates 14 days of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave.
Another problem McCarthy identified with the legislation are changes to the unemployment benefits program.
The California congressman argued that with the nation experiencing its lowest unemployment rate in 50 years the focus should be on keeping people in their jobs.
The Republicans are proposing an employee retention tax credit to incentivize companies not to lay off or fire workers due to the impact of the coronavirus.
McCarthy further highlighted there has been no scoring for Pelosi’s bill, meaning she is asking members to sign an open-ended check.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the legislation an “ideological wish list,” suggesting it will not be supported in the Republican-controlled chamber.
“Unfortunately, it appears at this hour that the speaker and House Democrats instead chose to produce an ideological wish list that was not tailored closely to the circumstances,” McConnell said from the Senate floor Thursday.
“One is reminded of the famous comment from President Obama’s first chief of staff: ‘You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,'” he added.
McConnell echoed McCarthy’s concern about the paid sick leave mandate it places on businesses, without exceptions.
The majority leader argued the provision could put “thousands of small businesses at risk,” due to their inability to afford the mandate.
GOP Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona, who sits on the House Rules Committee, said the Democrats are trying to “sneak in” provisions that have nothing to do with the coronavirus.
Speaker Pelosi dropped a totally partisan coronavirus bill at the eleventh hour and snuck in provisions that have nothing to do with #COVIDー19.
We all care about fighting this disease, preventing its spread, & protecting Americans. We must put politics aside and work together. pic.twitter.com/I2pJK6D5Ev
— Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (@RepDLesko) March 12, 2020
“Speaker Pelosi is trying to push through a partisan bill on coronavirus funding, which is an important issue that we all care about,” Lesko said.
“The bad thing is that she didn’t talk to Republicans or the president about it, and they’re trying to sneak in all these provisions that Democrats want that have nothing to do with the coronavirus and that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.”
McCarthy promised to work with Pelosi and with the White House to get a bill House Republicans can support.
“I’ll make this commitment to everyone. Republicans will not play politics,” he said. “We’re not going to criticize and sit back. We are going to work to make this right.”
Pelosi dismissed the need for further negotiations in the House.
Q: Would House Dems stay if compromise isn’t reached on the coronavirus response bill in the next 24-48 hours?@SpeakerPelosi: “We don’t need 48 hours, we need to just make a decision to help families right now… I’m not sticking around bc they don’t want to agree to language” pic.twitter.com/6B2V3cPxk6
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 12, 2020
“We don’t need 48 hours, we need to just make a decision to help families right now,” the speaker said. “I’m not sticking around because they don’t want to agree to language.”
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