Sunday evening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell angrily ravaged Democrats’ last-minute obstruction on a massive emergency funding measure that had been previously negotiated in bipartisan committees in order to provide critical help to American families and the economy.
On the verge of a Senate vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi showed up and stepped into the middle of negotiations on a reported $1.6-trillion emergency package Sunday and declared she would not support the bill. She said she would instead go back to her House chambers and create her own House bill.
McConnell took the floor to report to America exactly how Pelosi’s political “nonsense” is putting the country at grave risk.
“The American people are watching this spectacle,” said McConnell. “I’m told the futures market is down 5%. I’m also told that that’s when trading stops. So the notion that we have time to play games here with the American economy and the American people is utterly absurd.”
“So I want to explain what just happened,” he continued. “Our good friends on the other side would not have been disadvantaged one bit if this vote had succeeded because it would have required potentially 30 more hours of discussion, during which these seemingly endless negotiations could go on as long as they would like.”
The Majority Leader summarized the situation for all who were watching and who were hoping that Congress could deliver when it was all on the line.
“Now the build up to this, so everybody fully understands, is that we had a high level of bipartisanship in five different working groups over the last 48 hours where members who were participating were reaching agreement,” McConnell said. “And then all of a sudden the Democratic leader and the Speaker of the House shows up, and we’re back to square one. So, we’re fiddling here — fiddling with the emotions of the American people, fiddling with the markets, fiddling with our health care. The American people expect us to act tomorrow. And I want everybody to fully understand — if we aren’t able to act tomorrow, it will be because of our colleagues on the other side continuing to dicker when the country expects us to come together and address this problem.”
When it was obvious that Democrats had backed away and the bill was going to be defeated, McConnell changed his vote to “no” in a procedural move.
“Now I changed my vote which gives me the opportunity to move to reconsider at a later time,” he explained. “That’s all I can do in the face of this obstruction. Look, I can understand obstruction when you’re trying to achieve something,” McConnell went on. “This obstruction achieves nothing. Nothing whatsoever other than prevent us from getting into a position where there are literally 30 more hours that they could use to continue to dicker. So at a time when the country is crying out for bipartisanship and cooperation — and we saw that over the last 48 hours when regular members of Senate, not in the leadership office, not in the speaker’s office for goodness sakes, she’s the Speaker of the House, not the speaker of the Senate. We don’t have one. We were doing just fine until that intervention.”
Video by C-Span
“So I want the American people to fully understand what’s going on here,” McConnell continued. “The markets are already reacting to this outrageous nonsense. We have an obligation to the American people to deal with this emergency and to deal with it tomorrow. And if we don’t, I want everybody to fully understand you’ve seen everybody who’s on record, I’ve conspicuously avoided trying to turn this into any kind of partisan effort for two days. But it’s pretty clear what’s going on here.”
I just spoke in the Senate about how we’re making progress on a bill.
The McConnell-GOP bill includes huge bailouts without protections for people and workers and without accountability.
It has shortfalls of money for our hospitals & medical workers.
This needs to be changed. pic.twitter.com/7ggVKrwV6l
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 23, 2020
Some would say the nation is facing a crisis of existential proportions, of a nature never before seen. People are dying, the health care system is in danger of collapse, and the economy is tanking at such a rapid pace that many are foretelling the onset of a depression. Yet, at the point of criticality, when all of us need Congress to do their job, certain Democrats see an opportunity to once again play games.
“Hopefully some adults will show up on the other side of the room and understand the gravity of the situation and the need to act before the markets go down further and the American people become even more depressed about our lack of ability to come together under the most extraordinary circumstances,” McConnell concluded. “We’ve never been confronted with anything like this before. It’s totally different. And we’re not immune to it in terms of the public health risk. The coronavirus has hit the Senate today as well. We have five members, five members in self-quarantine. Everybody understands the emergency, particularly when it hits close to home. It’s not just back in our states, but right here in the Senate. So I would say to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, step up, step up. Help us reach an agreement so we can do what needs to be done for the American people no later than tomorrow.”
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