Good God, enough of this. Enough of these headlines: “Economic relief talks in disarray as congressional bickering intensifies.” Or this: “Coronavirus relief negotiations reach a breaking point with time running short.” As if the stimulus talks were a sentient actor going down the wrong path. As if one person—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—wasn’t purposefully sabotaging the effort. As if he hadn’t been doing that for eight months, moving goalposts and setting out impossible, poison-pill demands to secure his support.
It’s been 209 days since the House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, and 71 days since the House passed their compromise $2.2 trillion bill, both of which McConnell has refused to consider. Until the traditional media says that, until they stop both-sidesing this as “squabbles” and “bickering” and call McConnell out for the destructive force that he is, he’s going to continue to hold all the cards.
Right now there’s a proposal that Democrats are willing to swallow, with some tweaks, and there would be enough Republican votes to pass if McConnell steps back and allows it. That’s where we’re at, in a holding pattern where Republicans and Democrats continue to try to work together while McConnell sends his staff out to tell them it’s futile because “Senate Republicans would reject the group’s potential agreements on a temporary liability shield for businesses, as well as on aid to state and local governments.” It’s not “Senate Republicans.” It’s McConnell. He wants the liability shield and he wants to prevent Democratic states and cities from having funding—and if it harms Republican states and cities, so be it. If McConnell let this be a free vote, if he let his conference vote their conscience, it would pass.
Then he stands on the floor and says: “I hope our colleagues let Congress deliver more help soon. […] A lot of Americans simply cannot afford to wait.” And the Washington, D.C. press quotes him as if that’s something he really means. As if he’s not proactively trying to cause as much destruction of the economy and people’s lives before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, so he can help Republicans in the elections in 2022.