Let's start with the timeline: Approximately three weeks ago, Senate Democrats repeatedly filibustered a bipartisan $2 trillion Coronavirus relief package -- delaying its passage by days before winning minor, face-saving concessions and supporting the legislation unanimously. Part of the hold-up was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's destructive power trip, and Democrats' insistence on packing the bill with unrelated and tangential goodies. A member of Democratic leadership even said the quiet part out loud, framing the pandemic rescue effort as "a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision."
One week ago, it started to become clear that one key component of the package -- the small business 'paycheck protection' forgivable loans -- were extremely popular would need more funding to keep up with demand. Because the previous legislative process (described above) had been so needlessly contentious, causing so much precious time to be wasted, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wisely opted to propose a clean, standalone "top up" of that existing pot of money. The program itself was devised by Senators from both parties, the need was undeniable and a point of consensus, and the structure had already been negotiated and agreed to.
Nevertheless, Democrats decided that they wanted to exploit the moment, demanding many billions in add-ons. Republicans countered that additional priorities could be debated and addressed in broader 'phase four' legislation, arguing that this was a smarter course of action anyway because much of the 'phase three' money hadn't even begun to go out the door yet. Let's replenish the PPP silo now, which will soon be urgently needed, then weigh other spending in the next stage, they said, noting that they don't automatically oppose any number of Democrats' proposals. Democrats rejected this idea, objecting to the plan and derailing it for days. And now here we are, as of yesterday:
NEW: SBA expects to run out of money for emergency coronavirus loans for small businesses imminently—*this afternoon,* sources tell me. The $349 billion in the PPP program is meant to help cover payroll.— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) April 15, 2020
Republican leaders on both ends of Capitol Hill are demanding that Democrats end their obstructionism and act immediately to refill the fund -- which, again, is now exhausted because it's already helped more than 1.5 million small businesses keep millions workers on payrolls during this crisis:
"Democrats have spent days blocking emergency funding for Americans’ paychecks and now the bipartisan program has run dry. This did not have to happen. Republicans have been sounding the alarm for more than a week. Last Thursday, Senate Republicans tried to pass a narrow and clean bill that would have simply put more money into this critical program without changing any of the underlying policies that passed the Senate and the House unanimously. Democrats blocked it. Even as the program is saving millions of American jobs, Speaker Pelosi has said she sees 'no data as to why we need' to keep funding it.
It has been stunning to watch our Democratic colleagues treat emergency funding for Americans’ paychecks like a Republican priority which they need to be goaded into supporting. Funding a bipartisan program should not be a partisan issue. The notion that crucial help for working people is not appealing enough to Democrats without other additions sends a strange message about their priorities. The cost of continued Democratic obstruction will be pink slips and shuttered businesses. We hope Democrats see reason soon and finally heed Republicans’ repeated calls for a funding bill that can quickly earn unanimous consent from all 100 senators and become law.”
There are often reasonable arguments on both sides to political disputes. But this one is straightforward. There is no acceptable counterpoint here. The media's both-sidesism is nothing but feeble political cover for their preferred party:
Republicans: Let's give the paycheck protection program more money, no gimmicks— Logan Dobson (@LoganDobson) April 15, 2020
Democrats: Let's add a ton more stuff in there unrelated to the paycheck protection program for some reason
Media: Ah, the game of chicken intensifies https://t.co/LC2cbI5Af5
This isn’t a congress problem. It’s not a government problem. It’s a problem caused exclusively by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. As of today they’re still inventing things to ask for in a decision that should’ve been made last week. https://t.co/oD9zk77Y6i— Josh Holmes (@HolmesJosh) April 15, 2020
Contrary to the air cover being provided to Democratic congressional leaders by many in the media #PPP is NOT tied up because of dueling proposals— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) April 16, 2020
They have taken millions of #SmallBusinesses & their tens of millions of employee hostage until their ransom demands are met. pic.twitter.com/5g7ujYSkdH
Meanwhile, Pelosi is giving interviews applauding Senate Democrats for refusing to fund paycheck protection for workers...while standing in front of her $22,000 refrigerator system, filled with premium chocolates and expensive ice cream. Just watch for yourself, then recall her comments about the president "fiddling" while the country suffers. I don't begrudge Pelosi her wealth, her luxury goods, or her expensive tastes. Good for her. But any Republican engaged in these optics, under these exact circumstances, would be getting absolutely roasted. I'll leave you with this:
It's a very small victory that we went down slightly to 5.2M initial jobless claims. Still at 22M over one month, matching ALL the jobs created in the last decade. So minimal celebration.— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) April 16, 2020
"Let them eat ice cream," Pelosi signals. Mitch McConnell should try to pass this every single day, and dare/force Democrats to block it every single day, until this myopic, reckless, partisan madness ends.
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