(RightWing.org) – Millions of Americans are unemployed, small businesses that were once thriving are on the verge of closing their doors forever, and the economy is hanging on by a thread. Yet, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) refused to negotiate with Republicans in good faith for months. Now, it appears that COVID-19 relief might have been nothing more than a political stunt for votes.
In June, the Democratic-led House passed a $2.2 trillion bill titled the Heroes Act. At the time of passing, Pelosi knew the bill wouldn’t pass in the Republican-led Senate. Republicans offered a substantially lower amount at $500 billion. Under President Donald Trump’s leadership, Republicans came up with more than $1 trillion. However, Pelosi still refused to budge.
For months, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows tried to negotiate an agreement with the Speaker the Senate could pass. However, Pelosi refused to move, and negotiations broke down.
Were Pelosi and Schumer playing hardball for political purposes instead of agreeing to a deal that would help Americans?
Now Pelosi and Schumer Want to Negotiate
Now that the election is over, Congressional Democratic leaders are changing their tune. Earlier in the week, with time running out to help Americans before the end of the year, the House Problems Solvers Caucus offered a bipartisan $908 billion plan to support Americans. It has the support of Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Mitt Romney (R-UT).
On Wednesday, December 2, Pelosi and Schumer put their support behind the proposal. They said it was a good starting point for negotiations. The bill adds funds for small business aid through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a $300 per week unemployment supplement that’s retroactive to September 1, and a temporary break on COVID business liability to provide time for states to come up with their own policies.
Notably absent from the bill was a $1,200 direct payment to Americans.
While they didn’t give it a full endorsement, saying it still needed improvements, the Democratic leaders said with “good faith intentions we could come to an agreement.”
COVID Relief Could Be Linked to a Government Shutdown
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he would not go for a nearly $1 trillion deal. He indicated that the $500 billion was his best offer. However, Senate Democrats blocked McConnell’s deal twice. A government shutdown is looming on December 11. If Congress disagrees on a spending bill, then COVID relief could get lumped together in one big package.
That means the negotiations will likely be ongoing, and Congress’ ability to pass a spending bill to avoid a shutdown will depend on the willingness of politicians to strike a deal.
Pelosi and Schumer already demonstrated they are willing to play politics with America’s financial security. Will they do it again and threaten a government shutdown if they don’t get what they want?
Stay tuned. The clock is ticking.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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