With less than eight weeks to go before an election that will decide who controls the White House and the Senate, the two parties can’t even agree to begin debate on a narrow coronavirus relief bill costing roughly $500 billion that’s being pushed by McConnell and other Republicans leaders. Senate Democrats are expected to filibuster the GOP bill on Thursday, blocking any further action on the legislation for now. It took McConnell two months to round up at least 51 Republican senators to vote for a stimulus proposal because of policy disputes inside his own conference.
The Senate stalemate means Congress could leave Washington in early October having taken no new action in months to respond to one of the biggest economic and health crises ever to hit the United States. Leaders on both sides of the aisle — and top Trump administration officials — are apparently okay with the standoff, figuring that voters will decide soon who’s in the right, and who isn’t, even as hundreds of Americans die each day.
With so much stake, Republican and Democratic senators are ramping up their partisan rhetoric, trying to make sure they put the other party’s motives for the deadlock in the worst possible light.
“We should have never gone home in August,” lamented Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. “So Mitch McConnell now saying, ‘Well, the Democrats didn’t do anything, so we’re just going to go home,’ Mitch, we wanted to stay here in August. Why did we go home in August?”