As the Washington Post reports–having chosen the confirmation of another U.S. Supreme Court Justice over the public’s overwhelming preference of a second round of coronavirus economic relief, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate is getting out of Dodge:
Congress has left town until after the election without passing any new economic or health care relief measures even as the coronavirus pandemic surges and the economy sputters…
After days of bitterly partisan debate and a vote late Monday confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, senators are headed back home to campaign for re-election. The House has been out of session for weeks, although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have continued to negotiate around a new $2 trillion relief bill.
Their talks have shown scant evidence of progress, but neither Pelosi nor Mnuchin seems to want to be the one to say it’s over. Pelosi continues to insist she wants a deal before the election that would include another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, among other things. But at the same time, her rhetoric has shifted in recent days to emphasize the possibility of a bigger and better relief bill passing in future, with retroactive benefits — a scenario that would seem possible only under a Biden administration.
When Donald Trump threw the latter rounds of negotiations into a tailspin by (temporarily) calling off negotiations on a new stimulus bill until “after I win,” he promised to push through a bill after the election that met his desire to “go big,” even exceeding the requests of Democrats who fruitlessly negotiated with the White House over a few hundred billion. This statement left…unclear what might happen in the event Trump does not win re-election, and there’s no guarantee that Trump will keep his promise–or that the GOP majority lame duck Senate will have any more appetite to pass a stimulus adequate to the task than they were before the election.
The worst case scenario, which is no additional economic relief for Americans until January, even as the pandemic’s third wave wreaks havoc through the winter, is a very disturbing prospect. Back in May, Sen. Cory Gardner said it would be “unfathomable” for the Senate to adjourn without another stimulus bill. Economists have been warning for months that more relief is needed desperately, and if Trump and the Senate GOP decide to let Americans suffer until Joe Biden takes office out of political spite…
The awful truth is that is not “unfathomable.” Americans suffering needlessly this winter is now a likelihood.