Republicans have thrown up yet another roadblock to a COVID-19 relief package, according to Sen. Brian Schatz. “We almost have a bipartisan COVID package, but at the last minute Republicans are making a demand that WAS NEVER MENTIONED AS KEY TO THE NEGOTIATIONS,” Schatz tweeted Friday morning. “They want to block the FED from helping the economy under Biden. It’s the reason we don’t have a deal.”
In other words, Republicans are trying to use what’s supposed to be a stimulus package to try to damage Joe Biden’s presidency before it begins at tremendous cost to the nation. Next time a Republican claims to care about small business, consider this reporting from The New York Times: ”Republicans were working to limit the power of the Federal Reserve to provide credit to businesses, municipalities or other institutions in the future, both by rescinding money earmarked to support Fed lending programs and preventing the central bank from restarting them using different funds.”
With a moving target like this legislation, reporting is often obsolete before anyone reads it, but here’s what else is being reported. The first question is whether there will be a government shutdown over the weekend, something Congress could avert by passing another short-term continuing resolution—but may not. John Thune, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, expects that someone will object, forcing a shutdown to “keep pressure on the process until we get a deal.”
”Government shutdowns are never good,” Thune said, adding: “If it’s for a very short amount of time on a weekend, hopefully it’s not going to be something that would be all that harmful.”
Of course Republicans would want to downplay the seriousness of a shutdown they are forcing through their constant games with what can be included in COVID-19 relief—a bill that should have been passed months ago.
Several of the basics being reported haven’t changed much in recent days: $600 payments to individuals under an income threshold to be determined (in the spring, it was $1,200 to people with incomes under $99,000), a $300 weekly boost to unemployment benefits and an extension on the length of unemployment eligibility (though the length of the extension seems to be under active negotiation), somewhere over $300 billion for “small” businesses (with or without guardrails to keep it from being gamed by large businesses), and money for vaccine distribution and schools. No money for state and local governments beyond targeted funds like those latter two, and no Republican-desired corporate immunity from consequences for coronavirus-related recklessness.
The big thing we know, though, is that it is Dec. 18 and expanded unemployment expired on July 31. For many people, unemployment will run out on Dec. 26. Poverty has skyrocketed. The economy is in trouble. State and local governments are hemorrhaging jobs. And Mitch McConnell continues to stand in the way, as he has been doing since early summer.