Senate GOP Meets To Hash Out Stimulus Bill, Kick The Crap Out Of Each Other
On the one hand, it's delightful to wake up to another news cycle of "Republicans in Disarray" stories. Just put that stuff directly in our veins! On the other hand, they're in disarray over the coronavirus stimulus package, and if they can't get their shit together, millions of Americans are going to lose their federal unemployment benefits. Which is not funny at all!
But you take your joy where you can get it in this four-year waking nightmare. So pull up a chair, and let's dish about GOP senators racing out of their caucus meeting to call their own party's stimulus bill a stinking pile of dog crap.
"It's a mess. I can't figure out what this bill is about. I don't know what we're trying to accomplish with it," whined Josh Hawley to Politico.
"We have unity in disagreement," said John Kennedy. "I'm not going to vote for a bill in the name of unity when I don't know what's in the damn thing."
They may not know what's in the bill, but they know that they hate it. Particularly the $1.75 billion to keep the FBI downtown in DC to block construction of a competing hotel across the street from Trump's DC Emoluments Palace, which Ron Johnson described as "kind of a strange addition." (Ya think?)
Rick Scott is mad about states getting a bailout, despite the fact that Florida is getting absolutely hammered by COVID-19, and Lindsey Graham predicted that his own party would refuse to touch the bill as is, telling Politico, "I think if Mitch can get half the conference, that'd be quite an accomplishment."
Rand Paul didn't even make it through the meeting, stomping out in a rage after yelling at his colleagues over the $1 trillion-plus price tag.
"I think they have the misguided notion that you have to spend this or you can't get elected," he told reporters, criticizing his fellow Republicans for doling out cash to people when it probably should only go to corporations.
Or as Mitch McConnell — who has zero interest in becoming Senate Minority Leader — put it, "I have members who are all over the lot on this. This is a complicated problem. We've done the best we can to develop a consensus among the broadest number of Republican senators — and that's just the starting point, that's just where we begin in dealing with the other side and with the administration."
Perhaps it might have helped if the Senate had begun trying to sort out the disagreements sometime over the past two and a half months, instead of leaving it up to the wire. The "other side," for instance, passed a $3 trillion stimulus on May 15. Now that "other side" has given up dealing with Republicans entirely, preferring to negotiate with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows instead.
Ben Sasse, who only plays an idiot on TV, has grokked that his party is about to get clobbered at the polls, and has suddenly remembered that he hates deficit spending and fake Republicans who sign off on it. He released a statement yesterday complaining, "We have two big government Democrats — Secretary Mnuchin on behalf of the Trump administration and Speaker Pelosi on behalf of binge-spending politicians everywhere — playing gross games with your kids' money."
Well, something here is gross! We'll give him that one.
And speaking of jockeying for position, Politico's congressional reporters Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer gave us a hilarious breakdown of what's really going on here. In their telling, negotiations among Senate Republicans have totally broken down, and Mitch McConnell's main priority is to make sure that the public blames the White House when that $600/weekly benefit falls off on Friday and the wave of evictions hits.
When the Kentucky Republican suggested it is up to MEADOWS and MNUCHIN to negotiate with the Democrats, that's MCCONNELL gently tapping the administration under a speeding fast bus. Sure, MCCONNELL is saying, you figure it out with PELOSI and SCHUMER, and let me know how it goes. This means he wants deniability and distance. And, by the way, when MCCONNELL said he was opposed to providing billions for a new FBI building in downtown Washington as part of this bill, he was ensuring the tire tracks stayed nice and bright on President DONALD TRUMP'S back.
There's also this quote from Democrats about, ummm, animal husbandry.
"IT'S LIKE A GIRAFFE AND A FLAMINGO," PELOSI said to the room, which included SCHUMER, White House chief of staff MARK MEADOWS and Treasury Secretary STEVEN MNUCHIN. "They're both at a zoo. A dumb person may think they could mate for offspring. A smart person knows that's impossible. That's our bills. They're unable to mate."
SCHUMER compared them to dogs — "a golden retriever can't mate with a Chihuahua. You have a Chihuahua. We have a beautiful lion," he said, according to multiple people in the room. PELOSI then helpfully reminded SCHUMER that a lion is a cat, so, no, they could not mate.
REALLY? Could they just have said that the Senate bill is incompatible with the House bill and left it at that?
In plain English, we are literally nowhere with this stimulus package. Democrats want to help people, Republicans' priority is ensuring that no one gets sued for forcing employees to choose between infection and starvation, and the White House just cares about the stupid FBI headquarters — they literally held the process up for four days to get it in there!
And as with every other problem in Washington, Trump can and will make it worse.
"There are also things that I very much support," he said yesterday when asked about the GOP's stimulus proposal. "But we'll be negotiating. It's sort of semi-irrelevant because the Democrats come with their needs and asks and the Republicans go with theirs."
Mitch McConnell has to deal with Ben Sasse and Rand Paul, and the president just called him "semi-irrelevant." LOL, that there is some extremely good politicking. Keep it up, fellas!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.