D.C. – The passage of an economic stimulus package seemed imminent with Senate
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York expressing over the weekend that negotiations
were going well. That changed when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flew back to Washington
from California and upended the negotiations.
With millions of Americans losing jobs or facing serious loss of income due to the pandemic, several Republican members, including Sens. Rand Paul and Mitt Romney were in isolation after exposure or positive tests for the COVID-19 virus. That meant more Democrat votes than usual were needed to move the bill forward, so Pelosi and Schumer had leverage.
Rep. James Clyburn, on a conference call with Democrat members of Congress, reportedly suggested that the crisis gave Democrats a “tremendous opportunity” to restructure policy more toward their long-term liberal vision.
announced that she would introduce her own bill, instead of working with the
Senate to finish negotiations on the bill that was nearly complete.
followed, according to numerous sources, was a series of demands that all sorts
of spending and provisions unrelated to the coronavirus and economic relief be
added to the bill.
night, a vote to move the Senate bill forward failed on a 47-47 vote, with
Senator Susan Collins voting in favor and Senator Angus King voting against.
Democrats wanted to negotiate for a series of additions to the bill that had little to do with economic relief due to coronavirus.
wanted to dust off the Green New Deal and crack down on the carbon emissions of
airlines. They also wanted to add a law requiring those airlines to publicly
disclose the carbon emissions of each flight.
just restricting companies who received government help from doing stock buy
backs in the future, they wanted to take control of private companies by
placing government officials on their boards and subcommittees.
They wanted to
abolish the debt of the U.S. Postal Service and to change election laws
nationally, essentially stripping away some of the power states have over their
own election laws.
to change collective bargaining laws.
brought more of the same, but with heightened tensions.
Lisa Desjardins from PBS News Hour, Senator Susan Collins took to the floor to
give a speech. Senator Schumer objected, sparking a cry of “C’Mon. This is bullshit!”
from Senator Tom Cotton.
Collins then “walked thru her row to Schumer – stood a
foot or so away, finger pointed, exclaimed, “you are objecting to my
speaking? This is appalling!”
When she finally did speak, Collins’ speech became the viral video of the day. Calling out Democrats for their last minute demands and Schumer directly for trying to prevent her from speaking.
“We are in the midst of a crisis in our country caused by the coronavirus.
When it comes to Americans’ health and saving Americans’ jobs and our small
businesses, we don’t have another day. We don’t have another hour. We don’t
have another minute to delay acting,” said Collins, stressing that so much of
the bill before the Senate had been negotiated in a bipartisan fashion, including
the small business plan she had personally negotiated.
But Democrats continued to oppose, voting down the bill the second time, with Maine’s two Senators splitting as they did in the first round.
“American lives are at risk and Senator Collins has had enough. Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democrats need to get to work for the health of our nation, not their own self interests,” said RNC Spokesperson Nina McLaughlin.
Shortly following that vote, Pelosi released her version of
the bill, a mammoth 1,400 page document.
Contradicting the claims from her side that they would put in
stronger oversight in relief for corporations, Pelosi’s language was identical
to the language in the Senate bill.
But what was different was dozens of new provisions handing
out money and favors to special interest groups.
-Changes to election laws, including “risk limiting audits”
of election results, national same day voter registration and mandatory state
-100% elimination of the U.S. Postal Service’s debt and gives
USPS $20 billion for lost revenue.
– Corporate board diversity requirements for any company that
receives stimulus help.
-Wind and solar tax credits.
-Cancels several Presidential executive orders and
memorandums that are disliked by American labor unions.
-Requires companies that receive stimulus funds to implement
a $15 minimum wage.
– Implements new carbon offset restrictions on airlines, a top Green New Deal goal.
– Special rules for minimum funding of retirement plans for community newspapers.