In October, Democrats were tempted to think they did not need to budge because they believed they could get a better bill in the new year, when the larger congressional majorities they anticipated winning were in place and when Joe Biden was in the White House. That calculus is no longer valid. Speaker Pelosi should agree to a $1.0 to $1.5 trillion relief bill now because there is little chance that her $2.2 trillion bill will ever get enacted.

Senator McConnell is worried that passing such an expensive bill will divide his caucus. Several Republican senators will oppose any legislation costing more than $0.5 trillion. McConnell also might be worried that enactment of another bill might harm the electoral prospects of the two GOP senators from Georgia facing run-offs on January 5.

Under normal circumstances, those might be legitimate reasons to slow-walk a bill. Not now. The United States is the midst of its worst crisis in many decades. This is not the time to handicap whether a bill will or will not affect the Georgia races. A bipartisan deal is certain to lose votes on both sides. That is what happens with compromise bills. The Georgia senators would be free to vote no if they thought doing so would help them politically.

That should not affect McConnell, however. It is clear enough what the country needs at this historic moment. With power comes responsibility. It is up to McConnell to do what he surely knows is required.