McConnell: Democrats treat coronavirus pandemic as a ‘political game’, with relief talks still stalled

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday Democrats are treating the coronavirus pandemic as a “political game,” accusing left-wing leaders of letting “struggling people” wait for crucial financial aid.

From the Senate floor on Tuesday, McConnell, R-Ky., Criticized Democrats for blocking pandemic relief “on independent liberal demands”, and the press for covering “their stone wall as any political deadlock ordinary”.

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“It does a disservice to the nation to act like the last few weeks were just another routine political stalemate,” McConnell said. “It does a disservice to struggling families, laid-off workers, stressed school principals and healthcare professionals to do this.

He added: “There are life and death issues at stake – but Democrats have treated this historic national crisis as a political game.”

McConnell said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., was pushing for a national and local tax deduction (SALT) to be included in the fourth coronavirus stimulus package – which McConnell said , makes it clear that he wants no relief if a pandemic becomes law unless it provides special state and local government tax holidays for high incomes in places like New York. ”

McConnell added that Democrats had come to the negotiating table with “demands on arrival,” including bailouts for “mismanaged states,” but said Democrats and Republicans should have “managed to get by. agree on a wide range of topics, ”including tests, funds for schools, legal protections, direct payments to Americans and more.

“The Republicans wanted to come to an agreement wherever we could and continue to fight later on the disputed issues,” he said. “But Democrats said no – because they know their unrelated wishlist items would have no prayer to stand on their own merit. Only these hostage tactics could get their bad ideas across the finish line. People in difficulty therefore waited and waited, obtaining nothing.

He added: “This was the decision of the Democrats.”

“This is not a game in Washington. It is a national crisis, ”he continued. “It would serve us better if the Democratic leaders acted like this.”

McConnell’s remarks come as negotiations on Capitol Hill have stalled, after weeks of talks with the White House, members of the Trump administration, and Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate.

Over the weekend, President Trump signed four executive actions to bring financial relief to Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic, as negotiations for a fourth stimulus package on Capitol Hill stalled.

Trump’s executive actions included $ 400 a week in extra unemployment assistance – a replacement for the program passed under the CARES Act earlier this year that gave the unemployed $ 600 a week until the federal program expires at the end of July.

The action would require states to pay 25% of the weekly benefit of $ 400, while the federal government would recover 75%.

The $ 400 payment to unemployed Americans came as Republicans on Capitol Hill argued that the original UI program deterred Americans from returning to work, with many raising more money out of the unemployed than unemployment. Republicans pushed for the program to be reduced to $ 200 per week, while Democrats argued that the program should be renewed to $ 600 per week.

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The president also signed executive measures that would encourage federal efforts to help tenants and landlords avoid eviction or foreclosure for not making their monthly payments; defer the payroll tax from September 1 to December 31, 2020 for employees earning $ 100,000 or less per year; and suspend federal student loan payments and set interest rates at 0% until December 31, 2020 – the current student loan relief program was scheduled to expire on September 30.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Called the actions a “delusion” and Schumer called them “laughable.”

Meanwhile, even Republican Senator Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Criticized Trump’s actions, calling them an “unconstitutional slop.”

Talks had been stalled for weeks, with Democrats demanding more than $ 3 trillion in the relief bill while Republicans struggled to finally merge around a $ 1 trillion proposal. Pelosi proposed Thursday that the parties each give $ 1 trillion and adopt a $ 2 trillion proposal, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday said the idea was “out of the game.”

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Mnuchin said on Monday, however, that he believed Democrats might be ready to compromise.

As for the president’s involvement in the negotiations, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday that Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows “speak for the president,” but that the president himself “actively engaged in the negotiations”.

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