The White House and Republicans in the Senate are playing politics again with coronavirus relief, mostly so they can accuse Democrats of playing politics and "holding working Americans as political hostages," as Mitch McConnell put it earlier today. You see, the $350 billion portion of the recent relief bill that's supposed to go to aiding small businesses affected by the economic shutdown is already starting to run dry, so Republicans want to pass a quick addition of $250 billion that would go to provide more loans through the "Paycheck Protection Program" run through the Small Business Administration. But Democrats point out that it's not just small businesses (and also churches, haha, what fun!) that need additional infusions of cash, so while Dems don't oppose the extra PPP funds, they also want a new package of $250 billion in aid for hospitals, state and local government, and food assistance to needy families.

McConnell forced votes on both proposals in a pro-forma session of the Senate this morning, and, as expected, Democrats blocked the small business-only version, while Republicans said no to the expanded funding measure put forward by Democrats, and then McConnell got to blame Democrats for not being helpful during a crisis. That disingenuous fuckhead.


In reply to McConnell's suggestion that Dems are hurting working Americans, Sen. Chris Van Hollen pointed out that if anyone was playing partisan games, it was McConnell, who was pulling off "a complete political stunt" in the form of a "go it alone, take it or leave it" bill that he knew wasn't going to win support from Democrats. Thus are "both sides" narratives formed.

The really stupid thing is that McConnell had already acknowledged that the Democratic priorities are worthwhile, but just not right now, you see, and also this way he can accuse anyone saying the bill should fund anything beyond PPP of being a terrible obstructionist:

"If we want to act fast, Congress has to focus. There is no realistic chance that another sprawling bill which allocates half a trillion dollars to a number of priorities, even important ones, will be able to pass the Senate or the House by unanimous consent this week," McConnell said, referring to Democrats' counteroffer on Wednesday. "I hope none of my colleagues object to my request for these urgently-needed funds. There is no reason why this bipartisan job-saving program should be held hostage for other priorities."

And why can't it possibly pass this week? Because McConnell doesn't want it to, and because he says the funds for the PPP program are already running short, while the earlier stimulus bill's funding for hospitals and state and local government "are still coming online and have not yet been exhausted."

Well gosh, we'd better wait until the needle is closer to E before we get gas.

Since the House and Senate are both in recess, any deal would have to pass in both chambers by unanimous consent, leaving open the possibility that some shithead could fuck it up. Yes, we're looking at Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), who forced House members to fly back to Washington to pass the last stimulus bill quickly. Massie has already said this week that he would probably pull the same shit again if the Democratic priorities are included, so perhaps McConnell has a point: Because House Republicans are assholes, Democrats wanting to fund anything but Republican priorities are slowing things down. Damn those partisan Democrats and their obstructionism.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear that no matter what McConnell pulls in the Senate, the House won't rush through the small business funding without making sure those additional priorities are also met. In a conference call with House Democrats Wednesday, Pelosi

scoffed at Republicans' insistence that other sectors of the economy aren't desperate for more federal funds immediately, including state and local governments as well as hospitals and health centers. The California Democrat told her caucus that it's absolutely urgent they provide more money immediately to help states and hospitals fight the virus.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday they'd be happy to boost the funding for small business loans, but in a shockingly partisan demand that the bill help more people, they want Republicans to accept some Democratic priorities too:

  • $150 billion for state and local governments' pandemic response, as well as for an increase in the amount of food aid families can claim during the state of emergency.
  • $100 billion for hospitals and health centers, which still don't have adequate supplies of medical equipment or testing capacity.
  • A guarantee that half of the funding for the small business loans would be directed to community-based financial institutions that primarily serve businesses owned by women and minorities.

Now that McConnell has had his vote and called Democrats hostage-takers, the two sides are expected to keep negotiating; the White House's negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, told CNBC today that Trump is open to a deal, but maybe later.

We need more money for small business. The president has been very clear – he's happy to talk about other issues such as hospitals and states in the next bill, but we wanted to go and get money for the small business program, which has enormous bipartisan support.

So fine, make this the next bill and get everything funded, you weasels.

[WaPo / Politico]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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