GOP senator slammed by constituents for doing nothing to pass virus relief

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Tillis and the Senate Republican majority prioritized confirming Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court over passing more aid.

Small business owners in North Carolina on Wednesday slammed Republican Sen. Thom Tillis for not helping pass coronavirus aid as they struggle with the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

"In this very building, both of our upstairs neighbors have now closed due to the pandemic," Jenna Yarosh Wilson, owner of a pet store in Asheville, told a local ABC affiliate. "I'm so frustrated by our elected leaders like Senator Tillis."

"The PPP program dried up months ago, and we haven't seen any action from Washington since," Carrie Turner, who owns a local photography business, said.

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The Paycheck Protection Program was a stimulus measure passed by Congress in the spring that was meant to provide loans, mainly intended to cover payrolls, that would be forgivable if the recipient did not lay off employees or rehired laid-off workers.

The Trump administration's management of the program led to large companies receiving money that was earmarked for small businesses. Independent contractors and other self-employed Americans also struggled to obtain loans from the program.

The criticism of Tillis comes after he and the Senate Republican majority prioritized confirming Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, over passing more coronavirus aid. Barrett's confirmation on Monday took place a week before the general election on Nov. 3, after tens of millions of voters had already cast their ballots, and after Republicans had insisted in 2016 that no Supreme Court nominee should be confirmed in an election year.

Tillis was so hell-bent on confirming Barrett that he attended her confirmation hearings despite having tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 2 after attending a celebration of her nomination at the White House. He was among many attendees who later tested positive for the virus.

But he attended Barrett's confirmation hearings in person, despite not having spent the recommended 14 days in isolation after his diagnosis.

After confirming Barrett to the court, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent the Senate home without passing any coronavirus relief.

House Democrats have passed multiple coronavirus relief bills that would have extended a $600 weekly unemployment insurance boost, authorized another round of $1,200 direct payments to a large number of Americans, and given aid to state and local governments struggling to make ends meet due to coronavirus-related revenue shortfalls.

McConnell refused to take up any of them in the Senate.

Polls have shown voters want Congress to prioritize coronavirus relief.

Tillis faces a competitive reelection bid against Democratic nominee Cal Cunningham.

Polls show Cunningham with a narrow 2.1% lead over Tillis, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. Tillis has only led Cunningham in two polls since July.

Inside Elections, the nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the race "tilt Democratic."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.