AP reports today that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will oppose the HEROES Act, the latest round of coronavirus relief legislation set to pass the U.S. House tomorrow:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday branded House Democrats’ $3 trillion economic relief bill a “totally unserious effort” to address the coronavirus pandemic, underscoring the deep election-year gulch over what Congress’ next response to the crisis should be…
Provisions he singled out for criticism included a rollback of GOP-passed tax increases on residents of states with high taxes, language making it easier for people to vote by mail and what he called “the cherry on top” – provisions helping legal marijuana businesses. [Pols emphasis]
In case you’re wondering, as the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Michael Karlik reports, the “unserious” proposal to help legal marijuana businesses as part of the latest coronavirus relief bill is the product of Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado:
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s bill to give marijuana businesses access to the banking system will be included in the House version of “CARES 2.0,” a new coronavirus relief proposal.
“I just learned the#SAFEBankingAct is included in the CARES 2.0 package. I have been pushing for this because the#COVID19 crisis has only exacerbated the risk posed to cannabis businesses & their employees & they need relief just like any other legitimate business,” Perlmutter wrote on Twitter.
Help for marijuana businesses is just one tiny sliver of the new relief bill proposed by Democrats in the U.S. House, but it’s not surprising to see McConnell seizing on this small provision to disparage the entire effort–even though that could politically undercut vulnerable Republican incumbent and putative ally of the marijuana industry, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado.
Opposition to another round of economic stimulus in general and further checks to individual Americans in particular last week among a number of GOP U.S. Senators presaged a closing of ranks by Republicans against the new relief bill introduced by House Democrats this week. In addition to checks for individuals, the funding for state and local governments in this bill to offset massive revenue declines like Colorado’s looming $3 billion shortfall is desperately needed in red states and blue states alike. No less needed are the bill’s funds for COVID-19 testing, extending unemployment benefits, and housing assistance.
After weeks of commendable bipartisan cooperation on what’s proven to be the biggest budgetary response by the federal government to any crisis since the Second World War, demonstrating the ability of the nation to mobilize resources to confront a massive challenge, this breakdown of relations well before the long-term need is met could have the effect of greatly worsening and prolonging the economic pain from the COVID-19 pandemic. The first and most important step in responding to this emergency has been to save lives–but without the political will to continue the aid needed to keep people and communities whole until the crisis has really abated, the road to recovery is going to be laden with unnecessary hardship.
There will be accountability in November, but we’d trade all the political advantage this move gives Democrats for Americans to not suffer the unnecessary hardship.