One of the lines we've been hearing from progressives and elected Democrats during Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearings is that Republicans are more committed to filling a Supreme Court vacancy than giving Americans needed assistance amid the myriad, ongoing COVID-related crises. While it's true that Republicans haven't been able to consistently get on the same page, and the White House's negotiating posture has been wildly inconsistent at times, one glaring problem with this lefty narrative is that every single Senate Democrat filibustered a $1 trillion Coronavirus aid package several weeks ago. This maneuver killed the legislation outright, without any possibility for debate or amendment. With the upper chamber set to reconvene on Monday, majority leader Mitch McConnell is teeing up another attempted vote on a targeted bill. Will Democrats mount another filibuster, seriously diminishing any chance for progress prior to the election?
New @SenateMajLdr statement: Republicans do not agree with Speaker Pelosi that "nothing" is better than "something" for American workers.— Andrew Quinn (@AndrewCQuinn) October 13, 2020
Senate will vote on PPP money the week of 10/19 & can pass it before turning to SCOTUS nomination as planned unless Democrats block it again. pic.twitter.com/2ZdDfGMhUr
He's right that PPP is an overwhelmingly popular and bipartisan program that should fly though with little controversy. It's also true that Speaker Pelosi has said on several occasions that she'd prefer that the American people receive nothing in the way of relief, versus a bill that isn't to her liking. Senate Democrats will have an opportunity to again embrace that zero-sum attitude, or reject it, next week. Many American jobs hang in the balance. It's worth noting that while Pelosi has inveighed against "piecemeal" COVID legislation, as opposed to a wider and comprehensive bill, that's hardly been a hard-and-fast rule. Recall that she dragged the House back into session to make a show of addressing the phony Post Office 'crisis,' while more recently signaling support for standalone airline assistance -- before flip-flopping on that point. Meanwhile, the president is weighing in, somewhat contradicting McConnell's narrower approach:
STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2020
One week ago, he instructed his negotiators to walk away from talks altogether, punting the issue past the election. Then he dangled some limited deals as a possibility. Then he went all-in for a huge, comprehensive package. Several of the GOP Senators I've spoken to this week sound pessimistic on the likelihood of any relief passing. The prospects for a viable comprehensive bill at this stage do seem quite slim. Could something more pared down have a chance? I'm not sure Democrats want to give Trump, or vulnerable GOP incumbents, anything to cite as an achievement this late in the game. Though some Democratic incumbents may not be wild about casting more votes to block relief with so many Americans suffering. A few more details on the bill McConnell will present:
Speaking in KY, McConnell says that the new coronavirus bill would cost $500 billion. Would also include some extension of additional unemployment benefits— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) October 13, 2020
McConnell on new coronavirus bill: It has liability protection in it. Help for schools. Businesses. Replenishing the PPP program..We’re going to try one more time to see if our opponents in the Senate will overcome their reluctance to cooperate in proximity to the election.— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) October 13, 2020
In case you missed it, this genuinely good news on the COVID front is worth reading, via the New York Times:
The Trump campaign would be wise to cite this NYT story as part of its closing message — particularly the success of Operation Warp Speed. pic.twitter.com/cSN8vYlkxT— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) October 13, 2020
On the other side of the Capitol, here's Speaker Pelosi melting down and lashing out at CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who dared to ask moderately challenging questions about her refusal to accept any deal whatsoever from Republicans. She's committed to her "you get nothing" approach, which has even drawn criticisms from within her own party, as Blitzer notes. Being pressed with totally logical questions by a journalist sent her into a churlish rage in which she repeatedly accused Blitzer of being an ignorant Republican apologist, while pretending that nobody can understand the nuanced genius of her garbage bill (widely panned as a nonstarter):
She's their Trump, and they can't handle how apt the comparison. One difference is that she's unaccustomed to tough questions and criticism from the political press, and often reacts poorly when dealing with even modest pushback. Nikki Haley nails it:
They are so used to not having to answer hard questions. And when they are asked they end up acting like this. https://t.co/1yYvcfSPVF— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) October 13, 2020
Perhaps Madame Speaker is feeling a little heat?