In a remarkable statement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday it was a “mistake” for Democrats to try to work with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, early on in the Obama presidency.
In effect, Schumer blamed the moderate Republican for what he described as a 5-year “recession” during President Barack Obama’s time in office. But in doing so, he more or less admitted that the economy was tepid throughout much of Obama’s tenure — at the time, the adoring media tried to sell the stunted GDP growth as the “new normal.”
Schumer was being interviewed on friendly CNN and was asked if they could have done more to win over Collins or liberal Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill — the legislation passed without a single GOP vote.
“No, you know, we made a big mistake in 2009 and 2010,” Schumer said. “Susan Collins was part of that mistake. We cut back on the stimulus dramatically and we stayed in recession for five years.”
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain retweeted a post from NBC News reporter Sahil Kapur detailing Schumer’s comment.
.@AC360 asks if Dems could’ve done more to win GOP votes like Collins & Murkowski on Covid.@SenSchumer responds: “No. We made a big mistake in 2009 and ’10. Susan Collins was part of that mistake. We cut back on the stimulus dramatically and we stayed in recession for 5 years.”
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) March 10, 2021
Kapur also shared that the Senate leader said President Joe Biden did not think the GOP was “serious” in their efforts to deliver relief.
“What was offered by the Republicans was so far away from what’s needed, so far away from what Biden proposed, that he thought they were not being serious in wanting to negotiate,” Schumer said.
Chuck Schumer on why Democrats passed Covid relief on a party-line basis: “What was offered by the Republicans was so far away from what’s needed, so far away from what Biden proposed, that he thought that they were not being serious in wanting to negotiate.”
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) March 10, 2021
Collins was part of a GOP delegation that met with Biden in the Oval Office, and their proposal was on a relief measure that came in at $618 billion.
Turns out, Democrats weren’t all that serious either, as the legislation does little when it comes to immediately addressing the effects of the pandemic, as Republicans insist that only 9% goes toward that effort, saying the bill is more of a blue state bailout.
The senator did not take kindly to Schumer’s slight against her, saying the Democrat voted for the stimulus package he referenced. She also reminded Schumer he failed to defeat her in 2020.
“I thought that leader Schumer’s comments were bizarre,” Collins said. “He voted for the same package that I did.”
“I think it reflects regrettably his inability to accept the fact that despite pouring $100 million into defeating me, the people of Maine said no,” she added. “And reelected me to a historic term.”
“I thought that leader Schumer’s comments were bizarre. He voted for the same package that I did. President Obama urged me to vote for a stimulus bill that passed that year, and indeed called me afterwards to thank me for my vote…”
— Alan He (@alanhe) March 10, 2021
Suggesting their $618 billion offer was “productive,” Collins said Schumer “showed that he had absolutely no interest in trying to negotiate a bipartisan agreement despite our very sincere effort to put forward an initial package that could serve as the basis for negotiation,” according to Fox News.
As for the current Covid relief bill, the GOP senator dismissed it as a partisan effort that does little to counter the effects of the pandemic.
“Democrats chose to ram through a partisan bill using a partisan process. The only thing bipartisan about this package was the opposition in the House,” Collins said. “Under the guise of providing COVID-19 relief, the Democratic leaders proposed a bloated $1.9 trillion package stuffed full of provisions that have nothing to do with fighting the coronavirus, from either a public health or economic perspective.”
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