Senate returns to confirm more right-wing judges but ignores virus aid

856
Advertisement

Even as coronavirus cases surge and the economy slumps, Mitch McConnell is still not prioritizing aid.

The GOP-led Senate returned on Monday from the Thanksgiving holiday. But rather than prioritize aid to help the millions of jobless Americans and the cities and states struggling from the economic downturn, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is instead lining up the confirmation of more right-wing judges.

On Monday, the Senate will resume consideration of Taylor B. McNeel to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi, according to the calendar of Senate floor proceedings.

McNeel is a member of the Federalist Society, a right-wing group of lawyers and legal minds from which Donald Trump has picked numerous members to serve on federal courts. The Federalist Society also played a huge role in crafting Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees in 2016.

Advertisement

Earlier this month, Federalist Society member and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito gave a nakedly partisan speech at the group's annual meeting in which he denigrated Democratic governors and even criticized marriage equality becoming the law of the land.

Ultimately, with just 15 working days left until the end of the year, coronavirus relief does not appear to be on the table.

Congress will instead be forced to prioritize a spending deal to avoid a government shutdown when funding runs out on Dec. 11.

Congress is also focused on passing a defense spending bill that Trump is threatening to veto because it will force military bases with Confederate namesakes to be renamed. The deal had already been made, but Trump's veto threat puts its passage in doubt.

This all comes as cases of the coronavirus are surging and hospitals are once again filling up — with more cases expected thanks to Thanksgiving gatherings.

"We're going to be seeing as we go towards the end now, and getting into December, we're seeing the surge with an inflection curve like this," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert, said Sunday on "Meet the Press."

"The concern we had, as we entered into the Thanksgiving holiday and as we're now coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday, is that the travel and the people congregating at dinners ... that we might see a surge superimposed upon that surge that we're already in."

Even worse is that some key programs created in initial coronavirus bills are set to expire at the end of the year — including extending the amount of time people can receive unemployment benefits, as well as continuing to allow the self-employed, who normally are ineligible for Unemployment Insurance, to receive unemployment aid.

Those programs expire on Dec. 26, and if they are not extended could lead to at least 12 million people losing benefits, according to the Washington Post.

The Democratic-led House has already passed multiple coronavirus aid packages that would extend unemployment benefits and create new rounds of direct payments to Americans.

Yet McConnell has repeatedly refused to take them up. Instead, he's prioritized confirming Trump appointed judges, including some deemed unqualified for their jobs.

"227 rightwing judges; 0 new covid relief; 0 new stimulus checks; 0 new unemployment; 273,126 dead Americans," Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) tweeted of McConnell's priorities. "That’s one judge for every 1,203 dead Americans."

A bipartisan group of senators is working to restart talks, Politico reported, but Trump — who sold his candidacy to Americans by touting his dealmaking experience — is nowhere to be found in the dealmaking process.

Rather than getting Congress together to broker a deal, Trump has instead been lying about his landslide loss to President-elect Joe Biden, as well as been golfing (rather poorly, in fact) on the taxpayer dime — something he promised he would never do before he took office.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.