Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday said the Democrats’ obsession with its impeachment push to impeach President Trump in January distracted the Trump administration from the threat of the coronavirus.
“It came up while we were tied down in the impeachment trial. And I think it diverted the attention of the government because everything every day was all about impeachment,” McConnell said in an interview on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”
The House voted January 15 to send the articles of impeachment against Trump after a month long hold to the Senate. At the same week, on January 11 China reported its first known death due to coronavirus after Chinese researchers discovered a new, unknown disease had infected dozens of people.
As the impeachment trial dragged on, Japan and South Korea reported on January 20 the infection had spread and China authorities sealed off the city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged on January 23. A week later, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency and on January 31 the Trump administration blocked foreign nationals who had traveled to China in the previous two weeks from entering the United States.
The Senate voted to acquit Trump of two articles of impeachment on Feb. 5 after a three-week trial.
Regarding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) efforts to take up a “phase 4” coronavirus stimulus relief package, McConnell said lawmakers should “wait and see” how the crisis unfolds before jumping on another bill.
“Well, I think we’ll have to wait and see,” McConnell said. “Remember, this bill was only signed into law last Friday. So it’s only been law for about four days. And the Speaker is already talking about another bill that, you know, I think you have to genuinely be aware of the Speaker in a situation like this.”
He added, “What that meant was seize in the crisis to try to achieve unrelated policy items that you have not been able to get under other circumstances. So I would think any kind of bill coming out of the House I would look at like Reagan suggested we look at the Russians – trust, but verify.”
Congress has passed three relief bills this month tackling the coronavirus as the fast-spreading and potentially fatal disease hit the nation — an $8.3 billion package for free coronavirus testing and research, a $100 billion bill addressing paid sick days, unemployment benefits and food aid; and just last week a historic $2 trillion economic relief package aimed at jolting the economy from the detrimental impact amid the coronavirus outbreak crisis.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 160,000 Americans have tested positive for the COVID-19 with more than 3,000 people have died from the virus in the United States.