Schumer, McConnell Spar Over Biden’s Covid Stimulus Bill on Senate Floor

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Schumer, McConnell Spar Over Biden’s Covid Stimulus Bill on Senate Floor” – below is their description.

    U.S. Senators took to the floor Thursday to start rallying support in favor of and against President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, which is expected to pass the House this week and arrive in the Senate for changes.

    Overall, the relief bill would provide millions of Americans with $1,400 direct payments to help them weather the pandemic that’s stalled much of the economy for a year and killed half a million people. It contains billions of dollars for vaccines and COVID-19 testing, schools, state and local governments, and emergency jobless benefits while providing tax cuts or payments for many families with children.

    Democrats showed no signs of backing down, citing the assistance the measure would spread to people, businesses, and state and local governments.

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he is already seeing some of the same oppositional rhetoric from his Republican colleagues.

    “One Republican member said that the American rescue plan was to the left of Lenin. Seriously? To the left of Lenin? Money for schools, vaccines, direct checks to struggling American families, checks that nearly every member of the Senate supported just a few months ago. Now it’s to the left of Lenin?” Schumer said. “This kind of reflexive partisan opposition is not going to wash with the American people, it wouldn’t wash at any time, but especially doesn’t wash during this time of crisis…Our Republican colleagues will have to decide whether they will work with us to improve the legislation or obstruct it to the bitter end.”

    By late Wednesday, not one Republican in either chamber had publicly said he or she would back the legislation. GOP leaders were honing attacks on the package as a job killer that does too little to reopen schools or businesses shuttered for the coronavirus pandemic and that was not only wasteful but also even unscrupulous.

    In his arguments Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., focused on several Democratic proposals related to American elections, including the changing the make-up of the Federal Election Commission board.

    “House Democrats want to scrap those rules and turn the FEC from an even-numbered body, bipartisan body, to an odd-numbered partisan body so Democrats can dominate it,” McConnell said. “In this country, if the people who win elections want to hold on to power, they need to perform well, pass sound policies, and earn the support of the voters again. House Democrats do not get to take their razor-thin majority, which voters just shrunk, and use it to steamroll states and localities to try and prevent themselves from losing even more seats the next time. Protecting democracy cannot be a partisan issue.”

    Despite their paper-thin congressional majorities, Democratic leaders were poised to push the sweeping package through the House on Friday. They were hoping the Senate, where changes seem likely, would follow quickly enough to have legislation on President Joe Biden’s desk by mid-March.

    The hardening opposition suggested that Biden’s first major legislative initiative could encounter unanimous GOP opposition. That was a counterpoint to the new president’s refrain during his campaign about bringing the country together and a replay of the Republican wall that new President Barack Obama encountered in 2009 and most of his administration.

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