Mitch McConnell is done helping Americans hurt by coronavirus pandemic

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The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic passed 4,800 as McConnell embraced his role as Grim Reaper of the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to think Congress is done helping Americans deal with the coronavirus pandemic, telling the Washington Post on Wednesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs to abandon her efforts to do more.

"She needs to stand down on the notion that we're going to go along with taking advantage of the crisis to do things that are unrelated to the crisis," McConnell told the Post of Pelosi's plan for a another coronavirus relief package.

On Wednesday, Pelosi outlined what that package would look like, including $10 billion for health centers and housing programs and $760 billion for infrastructure projects such as broadband, water projects, and transportation.

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McConnell told the Post that Pelosi's comments about more pandemic-related legislation were "premature."

Pelosi had a different perspective.

"The victims of the coronavirus pandemic cannot wait," she said in a statement to the Post. "It is moving faster than the leader may have suspected, and even he has said that some things should wait for the next bill."

In a Wednesday conference call, Pelosi said that "our nation faces a historic health and economic emergency as we confront the coronavirus epidemic," adding that the House will "work to address the immediate health emergency, mitigate the economic impact and lay the foundation for a strong recovery."

McConnell said he was concerned about how to pay for another bill.

"We'd all love to do it, but there is the reality of how you pay for it," McConnell told the Post. But it was McConnell who led the Senate effort in 2017 to pass a tax bill that primarily helped wealthy corporations and rich families and added nearly $2 trillion to the national deficit.

McConnell's refusal to work on legislation related to pandemic relief for Americans has been an issue before.

On March 13, McConnell sent all senators home for a three-day weekend rather than have them stay in Washington, D.C., to pass a bipartisan coronavirus relief package. At the time, he said that that the bill contained "urgent Senate priorities," but he refused to cut short the long weekend.

McConnell has also bragged more broadly about his ability to block legislation — even popular legislation — passed by the House of Representatives, calling himself "the Grim Reaper."

Since the beginning of 2019, McConnell has blocked more than 400 such bills. He has blocked bills to raise the minimum wage, lower the cost of prescription drugs, fight corruption in Washington, and protect health care coverage for people with preexisting conditions.

On Thursday morning, the death toll in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic increased to at least 4,841, as McConnell continues to embrace his role as "Grim Reaper."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.