GOP senators pretend they're not the ones holding up virus relief


The Democratic-led House has passed multiple relief bills, while the Republican-led Senate has passed none.

Millions of out-of-work Americans are struggling to make ends meet amid the coronavirus-fueled economic downturn, with 12 million more facing the prospect of losing their unemployment benefits altogether on the day after Christmas if Congress doesn't act.

Yet, instead of working with Democrats to come up with a deal to help stave off financial ruin for individuals and families across the country, Senate Republicans are wrongly blaming Democrats for the lack of coronavirus relief.

Of course, Democrats are not to blame for inaction on virus aid.

The Democratic-controlled House has passed multiple bills that extended unemployment benefits, authorized more direct payments to Americans earning under a certain income threshold, added financial help to frontline workers battling the pandemic, and provided funding to stave off evictions, among other things.

Democrats passed those measures first on May 15, and again on Oct. 1.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to take up either of those bills, working instead to confirm Donald Trump's right-wing judges.

Trump himself has been noticeably absent from any negotiations and has only injected chaos into the efforts with mixed messages about what kind of relief he wants.

Here's a look at the false and bad faith attacks Senate Republicans have waged against Democrats to shirk any responsibility for the lack of virus relief:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

In a tweet on Monday, Cruz claimed that Democrats are prioritizing frivolous measures rather than pass coronavirus relief, claiming that Democrats want to "prosecute [the] Tiger King" but have not passed "Emergency COVID relief."

That is, of course, false, as House Democrats passed multiple virus relief bills.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

Cornyn, a member of Senate Republican leadership, also accused Democrats of not prioritizing coronavirus relief.

"Priorities? No COVID-19 relief bill?" Cornyn tweeted in response to a CSPAN reporter's outline of bills House Democrats are voting on after returning from the Thanksgiving recess.

Again, House Democrats have passed two coronavirus relief bills, while the Republicans in the Senate have passed none.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Rubio responded to a tweet from Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who had tweeted, "Small businesses, especially Black and minority-owned businesses, urgently need relief to survive the effects of coronavirus this winter. @JoeBiden and I are committed to helping these businesses during this pandemic and get them the support they need to thrive in years to come."

He replied: "Great. Please ask Senator Schumer & Speaker Pelosi to stop blocking the new round of #PPP we are trying to pass."

Democrats already passed an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program Rubio was referencing. The bill House Democrats passed on Oct. 1 amended the program and created a provision that would allow businesses who already got loans to apply for another.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA)

Loeffler, who is facing a competitive runoff for the seat she was appointed to, claimed on Nov. 23 that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have "shamelessly put politics over helping Americans since day one of this pandemic."

Again, the Pelosi-led House passed multiple coronavirus relief bills, while the GOP-led Senate has not.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)

The Louisiana Republican known for his bizarre attempts at witticisms tweeted on Nov. 18 that, "The Democrats weren’t willing to help schools and families with additional coronavirus funding."

This is a lie.

House Democrats twice passed legislation that authorized new direct payments and extended unemployment benefits, as well as provided aid to help schools and daycare centers create safe learning environments.

Sen. John Barrassso (R-WY)

The Wyoming Republican said on Nov. 18 that "Democrats have blocked our path at every turn" when it comes to passing virus aid.

Pelosi has been working with Republicans to compromise on relief aid and has come down from the dollar amount in the two bills the House already passed.

It's Senate Republicans who have dug in their heels.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.