Senate Leaves For Recess Without Passing More Coronavirus Relief




  • In Politics
  • 2020-05-21 21:55:58Z
  • By HuffPost
 

WASHINGTON ― The Senate left town on Thursday without taking any legislative action to address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which in the U.S. has resulted in nearly 100,000 deaths and 38 million jobless claims.

GOP leaders maintain that the four bills Congress already passed, which total about $3 trillion in borrowed spending, are sufficient, at least for now.

"It's illogical to say we've spent $3 trillion and we wouldn't want to take a look whether it's being efficient before we rush headlong and push another $3 trillion out the door," Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Thursday. He dismissed a new $3 trillion measure the Democratic-controlled House passed last week as "crazy."

But Senate Democrats argued that more federal spending is needed, given the rising unemployment rate, dire economic projections and calls for additional legislative action from the Federal Reserve.

"If you look at our activity across the past three weeks, you'd hardly know there was a COVID crisis," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a floor speech Thursday.

Senate Republicans held a few hearings on coronavirus testing and reopening the economy, but they mostly focused on confirming executive and judicial nominees.

The impasse isn't expected to break anytime soon. The chamber won't be back in session until June 1, after its week-long Memorial Day recess. No discussions are underway between House and Senate leaders concerning another relief package, and the Trump administration appears content with the funding pause.

Some Republicans have broken with their leadership and are calling for more federal action to address the health and economic crises. Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mitt Romney of Utah proposed plans to help businesses and workers performing essential services. Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine support providing aid to states and localities whose tax revenue has dried up amid the stalled economy.

Vulnerable Republicans up for re-election this year are also facing an uncomfortable position of going home to face constituents demanding more relief from Congress. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, one of the most endangered incumbents, on Wednesday threatened to block the Senate from going on recess, saying that it was "unfathomable" for lawmakers to go home without doing more to mitigate the various effects of the pandemic.

But he backed down on Thursday after a conversation with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who promised the chamber would act at a later date, CNN's Manu Raju. Gardner, who a recent poll showed trailing in his re-election bid, also secured a commitment from McConnell to advance a bill he helped author to aid national parks, however.

The Senate made a last-minute effort ― but fell short ― on Thursday to pass a bipartisan bill that would extend the amount of time that small businesses have to use federal funds intended to help them survive.

The loans were provided under the Paycheck Protection Program, which began to allocate its funds in April. Some loan recipients are due to hit the eight-week mark in June, before many states have fully reopened, prompting calls for an extension from restaurants and other segments of the small business sector.

"By the time we get back from recess, the very first loans will have reached their eight-week period. We need to act before that date," Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who helped author the program, warned earlier this week.

The Senate is looking at extending the loan forgiveness to 16 weeks ― but it failed to reach unanimous agreement to do so before taking its break. A bill the House plans to pass next week would give businesses up to 24 weeks to spend the loan money.

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus

  • Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic

  • 7 essential pieces of relationship advice for couples in quarantine

  • What you need to know about face masks right now

  • How to tell if you need to start doing online therapy

  • Lost your job due to coronavirus? Here's what you need to know.

  • Parenting during the coronavirus crisis?

  • The HuffPost guide to working from home

  • What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.

  • Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall - and keep it free for everyone - by becoming a HuffPost member today.

Love HuffPost? Become a founding member of HuffPost Plus today.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Congress weighs choice:
Congress weighs choice: 'Go big' on virus aid or hit 'pause'

Congress is at a crossroads in the coronavirus crisis, wrestling over whether to "go big," as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants for the next relief bill, or hit "pause," as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insists. It's a defining moment for the political parties heading toward the election

How the Trump Effect Could Lift Democratic Senate Candidates
How the Trump Effect Could Lift Democratic Senate Candidates

A driving theme of Republican Party politics circa 2020 is consolidation.The GOP has tightened its ranks; its reliable voters, hovering at around 40% of the electorate, tend to approve of almost anything that President Donald Trump does.Yet throughout his term, from the 2017 battles over health care and tax cuts to his impeachment and subsequent acquittal early this year, very few people from outside the party have been coming aboard.Trump has led the charge, but his effects are being felt far down the ballot. Two years after Democrats swept the midterm House elections by a historically wide margin and with historically high turnout, polling suggests they have a shot at a similar showing...

Trump
Trump's drive against watchdogs faces constitutional reckoning

The inspector general system is being tested like never before in the Trump era.

Behind Trump and Sessions Twitter row, a key Senate seat
Behind Trump and Sessions Twitter row, a key Senate seat

Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump are fighting on social media about a primary battle in Alabama that may be key to Republicans retaining control of the U.S. Senate. Trump has targeted Sessions for retribution since Sessions recused himself in 2017 from a U.S. probe into Russian election meddling. In a Twitter message on Saturday evening, Trump told Sessions he should drop out of the race because "You had no courage, & ruined many lives."

Flouting Norms, Trump Seeks to Bring Independent Watchdogs to Heel
Flouting Norms, Trump Seeks to Bring Independent Watchdogs to Heel

WASHINGTON -- Congress had a clear idea of the role it expected inspectors general to play when it created them in 1978 after the Watergate scandals. They were to be dispersed in the agencies and departments of the federal government not as compliant team members but in-house referees, charged with rooting out corruption, waste, malfeasance and illegality.As their numbers increased in the four decades since, inspectors general have played that role in bureaucracies as vast as the Pentagon and as tiny as the Denali Commission, charged with developing infrastructure in Alaska. It was an inspector general who in 2003 discovered that the CIA was using unauthorized techniques to torture...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Politics