Congress Members Trade Barbs on COVID-19 Relief, No Talks on Deal

August 11, 2020 Updated: August 11, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Tuesday called on Democrats to return to the negotiating table on COVID-19 relief in the midst of stalled talks between top Democrats in Congress and the White House.

“It does the nation a disservice to act like these last several weeks were just another routine political standoff,” McConnell said on the floor of the Senate. “It does struggling families, and laid-off workers, and stressed-out school principals, and health care professionals a disservice to act like this has just been more ordinary Washington gridlock.”

McConnell again said that Democrats have insisted on funding for cities and states, describing it as a “bailout” for “poorly managed states.” He said those measures would be “dead-on-arrival” in the Senate, which is controlled by the GOP.

“Republicans wanted to reach an agreement everywhere we could and then continue to fight over the contested questions later,” he said. “But the Democrats said no — because they know their unrelated wish-list items would have no prayer of standing on their own merit. Only these hostage tactics could possibly get their bad ideas across the finish line. So struggling people have waited, and waited, and gotten nothing.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, there was no sign that there will be any talks on a new stimulus package. At risk are $1,200 stimulus checks, aid to state and local governments, liability protections, unemployment benefits, and more.

chuck schumer
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks at a press conference before the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump resumes at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 23, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

It came after Senate Minority Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who was negotiating with the White House on a deal, said that recent executive orders authorized by President Donald Trump are not sufficient.

Schumer, on the floor, portrayed Republicans as a party in disarray, saying President Trump should be trying to restart talks.

“So many Republicans are saying: ‘Don’t do a thing—don’t do a thing.’ They’re glad the negotiations have broken down. We’re not,” Schumer remarked.

Trump took executive action to provide $400 in unemployment benefits, with $300 coming from the federal government and $100 from states. He also issued orders to look into issuing moratoriums on evictions for renters and homeowners, deferrals on student loan payments, and a suspension of the payroll tax that pays for Social Security and Medicare. The benefits are down from the $600 per week in supplemental federal benefits out-of-work Americans got starting March until July 31.

The “executive order on evictions doesn’t even guarantee a moratorium on evictions, let alone identify specific funds to help people who’ve fallen behind on rent,” he said.

White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News on Tuesday Trump’s plan on unemployment will go into effect in two weeks or so.