Colorado Public Radio’s Caitlyn Kim reports on the “skinny” coronavirus relief package unveiled by the Republican U.S. Senate majority yesterday–which, after months of delays and promises from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner alike, contains much, much less relief than the American economy needs:
The bill, titled Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, includes $105 billion for education, $16 billion for testing and contract tracing, $20 billion for farm assistance, and $15 billion for child care. The bill would continue the paycheck protection program, which lapsed last month, and send unemployed workers a weekly federal unemployment benefit of $300 — down from the $600 people were receiving until August. It also includes the main priority for Senate Leader Mitch McConnell — liability protection for businesses, schools, and others, in case people get sick from visiting or working on their premises.
It’s about half the cost of the bill Republicans unveiled at the end of July, and trillions less than the House-passed HEROES Act…
First of all, if you want a bill to succeed, never refer to it as the “skinny” bill. As we learned in the Affordable Care Act repeal debate, “skinny bill” is a marketing kiss of death. In this case, two critically important public-facing pieces of stimulus funding, direct aid to states whose budgets have been crushed by the economic downturn and payments to individual Americans which have helped buoy all-important consumer spending in addition to keeping millions of Americans fed and housed, are missing. AP reported Monday that the “skinny” bill left vulnerable Republican Senators like Cory Gardner of Colorado high and dry at the worst possible moment:
McConnell had been a force for a deal but does not appear eager to force a vote that exposes division in his ranks.
Many Senate Republicans are also wary or opposed outright to another major chunk of debt-financed virus relief, even as GOP senators imperiled in the election like Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado plead for more. [Pols emphasis]
As CPR reported yesterday, Gardner is all done pleading, and on to shining McConnell’s turd:
GOP Sen. Cory Gardner is calling on his colleagues from both sides of the aisle to support the bill.
“We have an opportunity to support out-of-work Americans, help small businesses, and provide critical resources to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Gardner said in a statement. “This bill is desperately needed and we must work together to move our country forward.”
But Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet said instead of playing political games, McConnell should come to the negotiating table “in earnest and support American families through this crisis.” Bennet said that McConnell had months to negotiate this next relief package to address “the scale of the public health crisis” and help struggling Coloradans, instead of McConnell “put forward a half measure that’s coming months too late for working families.”
By putting up a bill much smaller than Republicans’ own proposal from the end of July, McConnell has clearly given in to the hard-liners in his caucus over the needs of vulnerable swing-state Senators. Cory Gardner in particular has banked heavily–pun intended–on supporting every kind of economic stimulus measure, well beyond most Republicans, including a second round of direct payments and the full extended unemployment benefits that so many Republicans (including Gardner in front of conservative audiences) have disparaged as a “disincentive to work.”
The fight is not over, of course, and since this proposal is an obvious non-starter with Democrats we’ll have to see what if anything comes out of the next round of face-to-face negotiations. At the very least, though, Gardner has once again demonstrated his own irrelevance in terms of influencing policy among his fellow Senate Republicans. At worst, at least for Gardner personally, it’s a sign that Senate Republican leadership simply doesn’t consider keeping Gardner’s promises to voters a priority.
Which is what you do when you’ve consigned a loser to his fate.