- 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.”