McConnell sends Senate home for a month without giving Americans virus relief

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The GOP-controlled Senate doesn't have any votes scheduled until after Labor Day.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday adjourned the Senate until Sept. 8, ensuring that struggling Americans facing job losses and possible financial ruin won't receive financial assistance for nearly a month or more.

McConnell sent the Senate home without it ever taking a vote on a coronavirus relief package — even though the unemployment rate remains above 10%, and millions of Americans say they don't know how they can make ends meet without added unemployment benefits that Senate Republicans let expire.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed its own bill in May. It would have extended a $600 additional weekly unemployment insurance payment through the end of the year, as well as authorized a new round of direct payments to Americans.

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Senate Republicans, however, refused to vote or even debate the House bill. Instead, they waited more than two months, until the added unemployment payments were on the brink of expiration, to start negotiating on a deal.

And even then, they dug in their heels, demanding that unemployment payments be slashed and refusing to help fund other critical needs, such as the United States Postal Service, which is expected to see a massive surge in mail this fall due to an increase in the number of states adopting vote-by-mail provisions to help stave off possible coronavirus spread from in-person voting on Election Day.

Donald Trump admitted on Thursday that he's trying to block USPS funding, and contributing to a holdup in approval of a coronavirus aid package, because he doesn't want universal mail-in voting, which he thinks will help Democrats in November. There is no evidence that mail-in voting benefits one political party over another.

Trump, for his part, also helped stall negotiations when he signed a slew of executive actions he claimed were placeholders for a deal. His chief of staff, Mark Meadows, one of his top coronavirus relief negotiators, took a week-long vacation rather than continue to try to reach a deal with Democrats on an aid package.

The executive actions Trump signed do not replace a federal coronavirus aid package.

And the executive order Trump signed, which directed that $44 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Relief Fund be redirected to cover the extension of unemployment insurance payments, and that the states contribute an additional $15 billion, is being panned by governors.

Trump claimed the order would give $400 a week to those collecting unemployment insurance. However, Trump wanted states to pay $100 of each $400 payment, money governors say they simply do not have.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.