Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reach a compromise with Democrats on a second coronavirus relief deal.
Schumer slammed his Republican counterpart on Sunday, November 15, during a press conference regarding stimulus talks and the economy. He accused McConnell of becoming the “Dr. No” of negotiations.
“The bottom line is very simple: we need a large, strong COVID bill to deal with our problems,” Schumer said. “We have heard for months, every time we get close to a deal, Senator McConnell says no, he has become the Doctor No of COVID, just like he has been the Doctor No of all the bills in the Senate over the last several years.”
Relief talks remain at an impasse as lawmakers continue to argue over the overall cost of the next bill. Democrats are seeking substantial state and local government funding, while Republicans are pushing for employer liability shields, according to a late-October story in the Chicago Tribune.
Schumer blasted McConnell as the culprit behind the stalled negotiations.
“He’s who’s holding it all up,” the Senate minority leader told reporters. “The Republican Senate refuses to move forward on any kind of COVID bill that has any kind of relief for the American people.”
The White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been discussing a package between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion, but the talks fell apart leading up to the November 3 election, Business Insider reported.
McConnell is now heading up an effort for a smaller, Senate-backed stimulus proposal as the administration steps back from negotiations, the outlet continued.
Here’s what you need to know:
Schumer Says Republicans Should Spend Less Time Trying to Delegitimize the Election Results & Focus More on Stimulus
Schumer claimed during the November 15 news conference that congressional Republicans should spend less time trying to delegitimize the 2020 presidential election results, which dubbed president-elect Joe Biden the victor over President Donald Trump.
“Joe Biden campaigned on strong COVID relief. He won. That’s what the American people want, not just here in New York, but across the country,” Schumer said. “So we need it.”
“Republicans, Joe Biden, won. Donald Trump lost,” he continued. “Now work with us to get a COVID bill done, because that’s the … item that’s on the agenda that the American people want and want badly. It’s time to move on. The election’s over. It wasn’t fraud.”
Schumer said McConnell and other Republicans would better serve the American people if they focused their efforts on passing a stimulus package — namely Democrats’ proposed HEROES Act.
The House first passed a $3.4 trillion version of the bill in May, followed by a revised $2.2 trillion proposal in October.
The trimmed-down HEROES Act called for $436 billion in emergency aid for state and local governments; $225 billion for schools and child care; extended $600 federal unemployment payments through January; $75 billion for testing and other health care efforts and funding for the United States Postal Service and its election efforts.
McConnell Is Pushing for a Smaller Relief Bill
Despite Democrats’ calls for a big-ticket bill, McConnell is moving forward with what he calls a more “targeted” approach.
Following his reelection victory, McConnell said stimulus legislation should look like Senate Republicans’ previous $500 billion proposal — which was blocked by Senate Democrats before the election, according to CNBC. The bill called for additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, which offers loans to small businesses struggling to stay open during the pandemic.
On November 11, McConnell tweeted that a massive stimulus bill is not necessary to reboot the economy, claiming its recovery has been “stronger and faster than anyone predicted.”
“Our country needs more smart, focused relief that is targeted to schools, healthcare, small businesses, & those who are hurting the most,” he wrote. “Not the absurd multi-trillion-dollar socialist wish-lists Democrats have demanded.”
Schumer argued on November 15 that McConnell’s plan “virtually has no specifics.”