Schumer, Pelosi to McConnell: Move on coronavirus relief

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday reiterated their demands for Senate Republicans to immediately take up additional coronavirus relief, as the U.S. caseload surges to its highest-ever levels amid a spike in states like Florida and Texas.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the GOP “missing in action,” noting that the House passed its own massive relief package 45 days ago.

“Now is the time for action, not continued delays and political posturing,” they wrote. “We are outraged that instead of holding bipartisan, bicameral negotiations during the June work period, you chose to prioritize the confirmation of rightwing judges and several Republican-led committees devoted precious time to chasing President Trump’s wild conspiracy theories.”

House Democrats passed their sprawling coronavirus aid package in mid-May, which included over $3 trillion in aid for states and local governments, hospitals and front-line workers. That package, however, has languished on the other side of the Capitol.

McConnell has dismissed the House bill as nothing more than a Democratic wish list. Instead, he’s signaled the Senate will not consider coronavirus relief until after the chamber’s two-week July 4 recess. Senate Republicans argue that a significant portion of March’s $2 trillion CARES Act has yet to be doled out and say that if the Senate does take up another package, it needs to be more targeted. McConnell has also made it clear that any next package will need liability reform.

Meanwhile, attention on both sides has drifted over the past month to high-profile policing reform proposals, with both chambers drafting their own versions in response to nationwide demonstrations. The House passed its policing bill last week.

Now, Democrats argue that Republicans in the Senate need to move forward immediately on coronavirus aid, warning that state and local governments don’t have enough money for essential services. Most states are set to begin new fiscal years on July 1 with dire projections amid steep declines in revenue.

Adding to the pressure, Democrats said, is the expiration of boosted unemployment benefits and provisions providing eviction relief at the end of July. The unemployment benefits alone have pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy to keep it on life support amid the worst financial crisis in decades. Senate Democrats plan to devote floor time starting Monday evening to discuss legislation addressing those issues, as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and nursing homes, according to a senior Democratic aide.

“It is unacceptable that the Senate would recess without addressing this urgent issue,” Schumer and Pelosi wrote. “On behalf of the millions of American families who desperately need Congressional action, we demand you change your mind and decide to work with us for the good of the country.”

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