VillageHero via Wikimedia Commons

How Did We Get Here?

VillageHero via Wikimedia Commons

Despite varying opinions of members in both parties, the Senate unanimously passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill, 96-0, Wednesday night. Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated she’s okay with the massive economic relief bill, House Democrats are threatening to torpedo the Senate’s progress by pursuing their ideological priorities in future rounds of relief.

For now, it appears America’s workers and businesses will soon receive much-needed relief as fresh evidence emerges that America is in a recession, courtesy of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Here’s where senators stand after days of intense negotiations:

Republican Leadership

The White House from Washington, DC via Wikimedia Commons
  • Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

The healthcare and economic repercussions of COVID-19 put the shrewd majority leader under some of the most significant pressures of his decades-long career.

At times, McConnell couldn’t hide his frustration with Democrats, while Republicans fought to get $367 billion to small businesses and $130 billion to hospitals.

McConnell has consistently advocated for the legislation, calling it a “wartime level of investment.” The senator declared the bill would “help the people of this country weather this storm” with emergency provisions, including $1,200 government checks for individuals making under $75,000 a year and an extension of unemployment insurance.

Following the vote, McConnell released senators from Washington until April 20, though he is willing to recall them if needed.

  • Assistant Leader John Cornyn (R-TX)

Cornyn couldn’t hide his anger at Democrats for holding up the coronavirus relief bill for political leverage, calling it “shameful” in an appearance on Fox & Friends.

Many Republicans were incensed by not only the obstruction of their original bipartisan-draft but also the proposal put forth by Speaker Pelosi, most of which had nothing to do with the pandemic, including strict emissions standards for airlines.

Eventually, the Senate came together. We hope the House has the foresight to do the same.

  • Majority Whip Mike Crapo (R-ID)

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo fought for the stimulus package, reiterating that it will help stem the economic impact of the coronavirus, particularly on distressed industries such as U.S. airlines.

The funding Crapo advocated for will be a boon not merely for airlines, but also hotel chains and energy companies. All of which have seen their stocks plummet in recent weeks.

  • Conference Chair John Thune (R-SD)

Thune supports the unprecedented economic relief in the coronavirus aid package. The South Dakota senator also is a strong advocate for prioritizing health concerns over economic ones in the fight against COVID-19.

Democrat Leadership

Medill DC via Wikimedia Commons
  • Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Democrats slammed the first proposal by Sen. McConnell as a $500 billion slush fund. The Schumer-led opposition held up the bill until changes were made, including ideologically-driven provisions. Afterward, Schumer declared, “The legislation now before us now is historic because it is meant to match a historic crisis. Our health care system is not prepared to care for the sick. Our workers are without work. Our businesses cannot do business. Our factories lie idle. The gears of the American economy have ground to a halt.”

  • Assistant Leader Patty Murray (D-WA)

Murray fueled the stalemate in the funding package after Schumer complained the original version of the bill did too much to bail out companies like Boeing and not enough to assist the American workers.

Stocks fell sharply after the legislative process jammed. Investors rightly believed the longer Washington dithered; the more severe the damage would be to the economy.

  • Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Despite his initial reservations, Durbin praised the final version of the stimulus package, saying it “puts our hospitals and health care professionals first.”

The Illinois Democrat seemed satisfied with the comprise made possible by his GOP counterparts.

  • Conference Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Just two days ago, Stabenow sparred with Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven (R-ND) over the agricultural and nutrition provisions in the stimulus package.

Kansas Republican Jerry Moran said that Democrats like Stabenow initially wanted to make sure the relief package did not spend all of the agricultural money on livestock (the cattle industry has lost between $7 billion and $9 billion over the past two months). The bill was revised to include funds for crops. Democrats later said they opposed the financial limits on the Commodity Credit Corporation, a line of credit established by the Agriculture Department, which can be used to help farmers that are struggling.

Stabenow also wanted an increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. She relented after Sen. Thune finally said, “We just don’t have time to waste. This isn’t something that can be put off to another day.”

The Skeptics

Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons
  • Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Once leadership in both parties reached a deal Wednesday, the drive to vote on the bill nearly derailed as four conservative Republicans warned that the legislation could give workers in low-wage jobs incentives to stay unemployed instead of returning to work. The other senators involved in the effort were Rick Scott (R-FL), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Tim Scott (R-SC).

However, they backed down after a vote to modify the provision failed, more concerned about the economy spiraling out of control.

  • Ron Johnson (R-WI)

Johnson outlined his concerns with the stimulus package last Friday in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. His message was simple: while limiting the spread of coronavirus and helping laid-off workers was good, free money is not the answer.

The Wisconsin Republican explicitly opposed a multibillion-dollar package providing paid sick and family leave for Americans while simultaneously offering free testing for the coronavirus and strengthening unemployment insurance.

He proposed an alternative of getting cash to people unable to work for the time being by using state unemployment systems, with the federal government covering the cost of the supplemental benefits. Two Democrats supported the Johnson amendment (Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona). Three Republicans opposed it (Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska).

Ultimately, Johnson voted for the relief package without his changes.

  • Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Throughout the debate over coronavirus relief, Senator Sanders was a consistent thorn in the side of Senate Republicans. A disagreement over unemployment insurance between Sanders and Republicans yesterday keep stocks from holding on to their earlier gains. The market had surged up to 6% by early Wednesday afternoon, only to recede after reports the stimulus bill faced more potential delays. Sanders’ obstinance came despite the bill having a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance.

Despite lambasting the legislation as “corporate welfare,” Sanders eventually relented, saying in an online video, “This stimulus package is obviously not a bill that I, or anyone in the progressive community, would have written. There is much in there that I dislike. Very much. And equally important, there is much that is not in it that should be in it.”

However, even he acknowledged that since Donald Trump is president and Republicans have a majority in the U.S. Senate, the vast majority of his ideas aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

  • Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Although she voted for the coronavirus relief bill, Sen. Warren says it remains “insufficient” to respond to the pandemic.

“This is not the bill I wanted, but its immediate investments are vital,” the Massachusetts progressive tweeted late Wednesday night. “They are also insufficient. We will need to do more – and soon.”

Like Sanders, Warren is particularly concerned about the portion of the bill dedicated to big businesses affected by social distancing. Republicans mollified most Democrats after adding new accountability and transparency provisions in the final bill. For her part, Warren says the government must go further.

Here’s what the coronavirus lockdown means in each state:

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY DC

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Michael Brigham has written for American Action News since the summer of 2019. His areas of expertise include foreign affairs, government, and politics, but regardless of the subject matter, he has a nose and an insatiable appetite for news. In his free time, he enjoys reading nonfiction, watching a mix of comedies and true crime documentaries, and spending time away from the swamp hiking in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

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Sirdirkfan
Sirdirkfan
1 year ago

Trump’s stipulation is No Pork and the Kennedy Center is getting stimulus money.
What else?
As for Pelosi and Cornyn and Schumer they’re loathsome plantation owners so be vigilant and vote them out until Barr is ready to arrest them.

Alex Wiggs
Alex Wiggs
1 year ago
Reply to  Sirdirkfan

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAmen!!

Cabin 1954
Cabin 1954
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Wiggs

Agreed.

JW
JW
1 year ago
Reply to  Sirdirkfan

Amen! Amen! and Amen!

Roy
Roy
1 year ago
Reply to  Sirdirkfan

Hope Trump does not pass this bill with all the B.S. pork added by Pelosi & Schumer. Just pathetic. This Pork has nothing to do with anything pertaining the Corona Virus.

Elena Chacho
Elena Chacho
1 year ago
Reply to  Roy

Bye bye Pelosi and Chuck!!
You both are DISGUSTING and have no respect for OUR President and the CITIZENS of this country.
Be very happy when you are both GONE

scot_belle
scot_belle
1 year ago
Reply to  Elena Chacho

SADLY, there was NOT a Republican to past the S.F. voting gauntlet, where…ALL candidates are voted on in the Primary, and two with the highest count…go on to the National Election. Pelosi is up against an even WORSE candidate for America, and like it or not, all we can do with our voting is…make sure to take BOTH the House & Senate, so that Pelosi loses her gavel to a Republican.

To be candid, I truly fear the possible replacement for Pelosi, and at least with Nancy….she IS the devil we know and without being in the Speaker’s position….she can be fitted with a bridle.

robert
1 year ago
Reply to  Elena Chacho

oh yeah pelosi & upchuck schumer are so full of hate they want the worse for america they want to beat trump by any means necessary

Nancy
1 year ago
Reply to  Elena Chacho

They need to get out of office, they do nothing for the people, just fight with the President over everything he tries to do, their hatred is shameful and has made them lose their mind and what they are supposed to be doing. Disgusting.

scot_belle
scot_belle
1 year ago
Reply to  Sirdirkfan

At the last known count, the amount of UNNECESSARY PORK in the “Stimulus” included:

$300,000,000 for “Migration and Refugee Assistance”
$1,000,000 for the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate.
$300,000,000 for the Corporation for public broadcasting.
$500,000,000 for the Insitute of Museum and Library Services.
$23,000,000 handout to Howard University
$647,000,000 to Howard’s Endowment
$7,000,000 for one specific DC charter school, Gallaudet University
$90,000,000 for an HIV program
$35,000,000 for the JFK performing arts center.

YES….I do hope that THIS comes back and HAUNTS Congress!!
Did ANY money go to Planned Parenthood, on top of their present funding?

Teriqua jones
Teriqua jones
1 year ago
Reply to  scot_belle

I thought Nancy was trying to get $25 million in pay increases for Congress?

Nancy
1 year ago
Reply to  scot_belle

I hope so too
They need to get out of office, they do nothing for the people, just fight with the President over everything he tries to do, their hatred is shameful and has made them lose their mind and what they are supposed to be doing. Disgusting.

Bernard England III
Bernard England III
1 year ago

This aid bill should be strictly for the virus and nothing else this is where a lot of our tax money is wasted, on pork.

Alex Wiggs
Alex Wiggs
1 year ago

The Dem’s, like the circling vultures they are, were waiting for a chance like this. Pitiful.

Don
Don
1 year ago

Unfortunately, while Dems are the worst about it, riders like this crap have been stuck in bills for many decades to get passed when they had no chance on their own from both sides. The practice needs ended but also unfortunately, there will be a million weak excuses that’ll be made by congress critters from both sides.

Kevin
Kevin
1 year ago
Reply to  Don

agreed ….but now is not the time…

Rose White
Rose White
1 year ago

Because Nervous Nancy & Crying Chuck had temper tantums they are a disgrace to our country this was to help Americans and they stopped this to go thru get rid of both of them

Jo
Jo
1 year ago
Reply to  Rose White

THIS COMING NOVEMBER WE THE PEOPLE CAN TAKE CARE OF THIS PROBLEM. PERIOD
THESE ASSHOLES NEED TO BE GONE

JW
JW
1 year ago
Reply to  Jo

Please everyone don’t forget to take them out of office. Please!

skai
skai
1 year ago
Reply to  Jo

jo Agree with you 100% But we got to make sure that All Republicans get out on that day and vote. TRUMP 2020

sharon dewitt
sharon dewitt
1 year ago
Reply to  Rose White

yes they need to be prison for what they have done this year.

John
1 year ago
Reply to  Rose White

Yes get rid of both of the sorry bunch ????