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“Republican Infighting” in the Senate Stalls Unemployment Relief Extension

In the Middle of an Economic and Public Health Crisis, Senate Republicans “Wasted a Week At The Worst Possible Time,” Millions of Families Now Face an Unavoidable Fiscal Cliff

After McConnell & Senate GOP Caucus Took a Two-Week Recess in July, “GOP Leaders Couldn’t Even Come to An Agreement Among Themselves” This Week

Emergency unemployment relief is set to expire tomorrow, after Senate Republicans “wasted” the past week “bickering” among themselves instead of working on an actual plan to renew this desperately needed aid. Republicans’ “embarrassing” infighting stalled the extension of a program that has been a critical lifeline for millions of hardworking families, and is supported by an overwhelming majority of voters.

Senate Republicans are trying “to downplay the episode” even as they are privately “flabbergasted” by the delays. The reality is that Mitch McConnell and his caucus “were supposed to be ready for this moment.” For weeks, reports have detailed how “millions of American workers are suffering from economic whiplash” and allowing the additional emergency unemployment relief to expire would put a further “financial squeeze” on communities.

But instead of working on solutions to avert this mess, Republicans took a two-week summer break in the middle of July. Now Senate Republicans have left Washington again for the weekend — still no closer to having a plan, and leaving millions of Americans across the country in the lurch.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

POLITICO: Republican infighting leads to embarrassing setback on aid
By Marianne Levine and Jonathan Bresnahan
July 23, 2020

Key Points:

  • Senate Republicans and the White House wasted a week at the worst possible time.
  • Amid a series of crises — with 30 million Americans unemployed and coronavirus cases spiking nationally — White House officials and Senate GOP leaders couldn’t even come to an agreement among themselves on a starting point for a new relief package, let alone begin bipartisan talks with Democrats.
  • They clashed over a payroll tax cut, more money for testing, unemployment insurance benefits and a raft of other measures to address the unprecedented economic slowdown. The planned unveiling of a new $1 trillion bill got delayed and delayed again. With Election Day only 103 days away, this is the last thing an embattled president and Senate majority needed to happen.
  • Republicans acknowledged the bickering, even as they tried to downplay the episode.
  • But privately, GOP lawmakers were flabbergasted that they’ll likely have to wait until next week to unveil even an initial proposal.
  • What’s worse for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — the key players in this drama — was they were supposed to be ready for this moment.
  • Then there was unemployment assistance. With $600-per-week federal payments to millions of newly unemployed Americans expiring by the end of the month, there was urgency to find a compromise.
  • Yet some Senate Republicans wanted no additional federal support for the out-of-work, saying business owners are complaining that they can’t hire people because the unemployed make more staying home. Other GOP senators wanted scaled-back payments. Still another group wanted to extend the current payments. Republican leaders created a plan that would let individual states tailor their payments, yet the White House rejected that as inadequate.
  • The GOP’s struggle to coalesce around a negotiating position is only the beginning of a long slog toward getting any kind of deal before Congress leaves for the August recess. McConnell faces divisions within his own caucus over spending, and he has not even begun talks with Pelosi and Schumer.
  • The stakes could not be higher for Senate Republicans, with Trump sinking in the polls and GOP control of the Senate in doubt. Yet even as they left for the weekend, the discussions between the Republican leadership and White House were ongoing.

Read the full story here.

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