Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) lambasted Senate Republicans for being so “disorganized” and “chaotic” as they remain internally divided on several key issues to reach an agreement on a GOP coronavirus stimulus proposal.
“It’s in the middle of the week, and the Republican Party is so disorganized, chaotic and unprepared that they can barely cobble together a partisan bill in their own conference,” Schumer said speaking from the Senate floor Wednesday morning. “People are ready to lose their unemployment benefits, to lose their apartments, and be evicted. Local governments are laying off people because they don’t have the dollars.”
“We’re in a national crisis,” he continued. “Where have the Republicans been? I have never seen a political party in the middle of a crisis so tied in a knot that the Majority Leader can’t even mention it in his speech and spends time ranting against favorite targets of the far-right and can’t come up with a proposal.”
Schumer appeared to be amused with the intraparty squabbling, blaming the GOP division for causing a delay as certain provisions of the CARES Act are set to expire in the upcoming days.
“Even after all these months, the White House and Senate Republicans are starkly divided about what to do,” Schumer said. “The White House is insisting on policies, like a payroll tax cut, that would do nothing to help millions of unemployed Americans. Seriously, there are only three weeks left until the August work period and Republicans are still in the opening phases of preparing their bill?”
He added, “Republicans can’t seem to agree on whether to provide any new aid for state and local governments, or the states should be able to more flexibly use the support we’ve already given. The other side hardly want to spend any more money to help our country in this once-in-a-generation crisis because it might add to the national debt. The moratorium on evictions we passed in the CARES Act expires in two days. Next week, the enhanced unemployment benefits we passed in the CARES Act will expire while 20 to 30 million Americans are still without work.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) along with the White House during a closed-door meeting told GOP colleagues the size of the next relief package will have a top-line figure at $1 trillion. This led to the start of the GOP division amongst the two wings of the party with conservative Republicans sounding the alarm about the impact of doling out another trillion dollars on the nation’s debt, which now exceeds 80% of the country’s gross domestic product. Other members called for Congress to look into the unspent $1 trillion from the CARES Act passed in March before authorizing a new spending bill. Establishment Republicans, on the other hand, said a constraint of a trillion dollars would limit which proposals are allowed and capping the appropriation it can provide to Americans.
Schumer urged Republicans to stop the bickering and “get on the same page,” citing the tight timeframe should be focused on creating a proposal or start the negotiation on the Democratic version Heroes Act $3.4 trillion bill that was passed in May.
“We don’t have time for this mess that Republicans are in. Congress needs to act quickly. Senate Republicans and the White House need to get on the same page, produce a proposal, not just drop it on the floor, but start negotiations,” he said. “Or better yet, we could start negotiations on the Heroes Act, which has already passed the House, and unlike the developing Republican proposal, would actually match the scale of this crisis.”