GOP Senate focuses on investigating Biden while ignoring virus relief

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Senate committees are plowing ahead with political probes as coronavirus relief for the unemployed is set to run out.

The Republican-controlled Senate is moving ahead with political probes as emergency unemployment benefits are set to expire.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, plans to soon release a partial report on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's son Hunter and his relationship with Burisma — a Ukrainian energy company — months before the presidential election.

"We've got a very detailed timeline. ... I've told staff I certainly want to get something out before the August recess, as incomplete as it is," he told The Hill on Friday. "At some point in time we've got [to say] 'Okay, here's what we've got. Here's the remaining questions that need to be answered.'"

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These "questions" reportedly include examining "potential conflicts of interest" in conversations between Biden and the then-Ukraine president.

Johnson may issue subpoenas in the matter as early as next Wednesday's committee meeting, Politico reported Thursday.

In March, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) admitted that the investigation into the Bidens "appears political" and said "people are tired of these kind of political investigations." Still, he ultimately voted to let Johnson proceed anyway.

In addition, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), chair of the Judiciary Committee, said this week in an online discussion that he plans to hold public hearings this month on the origins of the investigation into Russian election meddling during the Obama-Biden administration.

"There's a lot to be done between now and September," Graham said, to "investigate the investigators."

These ramped-up investigations come as the nation reels from both a public health crisis and an economic meltdown.

The Senate has refused to even hold a vote on the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, a popular coronavirus relief package passed by the House in May.

That legislation would provide trillions of dollars to address the public health and economic challenges caused by the pandemic, extend expiring unemployment benefits, and provide $1 trillion in aid to struggling state and local governments. It also includes $75 billion for coronavirus testing, tracing, and treatment, and billions more for hazard pay, child care, and workplace safety for essential workers.

Instead, the nation waits for Senate Republicans to craft a relief bill of their own.

"I'll be unveiling something which will be a starting point in a few weeks and we'll be dealing with the administration and the Democrats," Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told constituents in Kentucky last week. He said his proposal would focus mainly on helping the hospitality industry and on taking away the right of people who get infected to sue liable businesses.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the bill might also include provisions aimed at making public school systems to reopen during the pandemic.

McConnell has also indicated he plans to let an emergency program providing a $600 weekly federal supplement to unemployment insurance expire on July 31. A June report from Congress' Joint Economic Committee predicted that another 2.8 million Americans could lose their jobs if the benefit is not renewed.

According to the Department of Labor, 1.3 million more Americans filed new unemployment claims last week. This marked the 17th consecutive week in which at least a million people have fired first-time jobless claims. The current national unemployment rate, as of June data, was more than 11%.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.