This only counts as progress for record-keeping purposes, but it’s worth noting nonetheless. Facing an impasse with Democrats on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans want to force a vote on a so-called “skinny” Phase 4 relief bill, consisting of only $500 billion more in targeted stimulus and unemployment benefits. It spends more than that, but absorbs unspent funds in previous bills to bring down the new cost of the package.
Mitch McConnell wants to get 51 votes in the Senate — not to pass the bill, but to force Democrats to obstruct it:
Senate Republicans will introduce their new coronavirus relief bill Tuesday and are eyeing a vote later this week, after weeks of stalled negotiations between the White House and Democratic leaders over an aid package.
The new, more narrow GOP proposal will provide $300 in increased weekly federal unemployment benefits through Dec. 27, additional money for the Paycheck Protection Program and liability protections for schools and businesses as they try to reopen, a top priority for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The cost of the package is estimated at $500 billion, but the measure also proposes rescinding hundreds of billions in previously appropriated funds to hold down the costs.
Playing off the “skinny” label, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer argued that McConnell’s new bill has an eating disorder:
Even before the Republican plan was introduced, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) panned the “emaciated” GOP proposal, saying in a joint statement that it is “headed nowhere” and only intended to help vulnerable Senate Republicans with a “check the box vote.”
That’s precisely the purpose it serves. By the same token, that’s precisely the purpose that Pelosi’s $3.4 trillion “HEROES” Act served too. That never had a prayer of passing in the Senate, and both Pelosi and Schumer knew that full well. They passed it in order to argue that meany Republicans were obstructing aid to the unemployed, health-care workers, and stimulus grants to ordinary ‘Murricans.
So yes, Mitch McConnell will play the same game with this bill now to blame the meany Democrats for blocking aid to the same ordinary ‘Murricans. Resolved: both sides are equally shameless. McConnell might end up having a more effective argument after the expiration of the CARES Act at the end of July failed to result in the economic collapse predicted by Democrats on Capitol Hill. Regardless, it’s still just inside-the-beltway posturing that has almost nothing to do with ordinary ‘Murricans, and everything to do with manipulating the institutions that serve ‘Murricans for their own political gain.
Even though that’s an old story, it’s still amazing to see two parties with everything to gain by spending imaginary money weeks before an election fail to come up with a compromise that suits them both. It’s idiotic, of course, but still amazing.