Are Democrats Playing Election Politics with Relief Bill?

Are Democrats Playing Election Politics with Relief Bill?

( – Politics is the art of the possible. At least, that’s what Benjamin Franklin thought when it came to getting big and difficult tasks accomplished in government. One of the major tasks at hand for Congress is passing another stimulus package, and politics might be getting in the way.

On Monday, September 29, House Democrats presented a revised $2.2 trillion HEROES Act, COVID-19 relief bill. However, one has to wonder if they are really serious about helping struggling Americans or if they are just posturing to help vulnerable Democrats in the upcoming election.

On Twitter, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Drew Hammill, said she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke by phone at 6:30 p.m. Monday. They also agreed to talk again on Tuesday morning. Even though the two sides are talking, it appears they are still very far apart on a deal.

Nonetheless, Pelosi expressed confidence a deal could get done. Democratic aides say the bill could be up for a vote later this week.

Democrats Double Down

The proposed bill is not that much different than the one Republicans walked away from in August. They argue that the original $3.5 trillion HEROES Act relief package was too broad, too expensive, and not targeted enough at the right places. Although Democrats offered to drop it by a $1 trillion, Republicans said there was still too much pork and unaccountable liberal spending in the bill.

One of the main sticking points in August was the $600 per week federal enhanced unemployment benefit. In the latest bill, Democrats maintain the benefit despite it being one of the bill’s failures in negotiations with Republicans. The GOP was adamant that the additional $600 per week was discouraging people from going back to work. Now, they believe the economy is recovering, and the large benefit may no longer be needed.

Is the Bill About Public Perception and Politics?

Why would House Democrats insist on something they know won’t pass the Republican-led Senate?

Are they trying to purposely sabotage a deal once again?

Two weeks ago, a bipartisan group called the Problem Solvers Caucus presented a more moderate proposal. It totaled around $1.5 trillion, which was a middle ground between the two parties. It had a much stronger chance of passing in both chambers, yet Pelosi wouldn’t allow it to come to the floor for a vote.

Millions of Americans are still out of work, and business bankruptcies are climbing to alarming rates. If Pelosi doesn’t negotiate with Mnuchin and can’t come to an agreement with the Republican-led Senate, it’s difficult to tell who will get blamed by voters at this point.

However, one thing is sure. Democrats should bargain in good faith and not play politics with the relief package.

By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor

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