- 'It's a Mess'
- 2020-07-28 22:31:37 (GMT)
- "the fiscal times" <email@example.com>
By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
'It's a Mess': GOP Divided Over Its Own Coronavirus Bill
The coronavirus relief bill released by Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell (R-KY) yesterday received plenty of criticism Tuesday - with
much of it coming from fellow Republicans.
At a lunch with Trump administration officials, some GOP senators
complained about the $1 trillion price tag of the package, their lack of
input in the bill's writing process and the puzzling inclusion of
funds to build a new FBI headquarters building across the street from
the Trump International Hotel in Washington.
Highlighting the lack of unity among Republicans, Sen. Lindsey Graham
(R-SC) said, "I think if Mitch can get half the conference that'd be
quite an accomplishment."
Saying he didn't really know what was in the bill, John Kennedy (R-LA)
joked that Republicans "have unity in disagreement."
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said he was baffled by the proposal. "It's a
mess," he said. "I can't figure out what this bill is about. I don't
know what we're trying to accomplish with it."
Storming out of the meeting early, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized the
bill's cost. "It's just very frustrating to me because it's people
who go home and say we're fiscally conservative, [and] are now in a
bidding contest with the Democrats to see how much money they can
spend," he said.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) seemed to share those concerns, particularly the
proposal to provide state and local governments with more flexibility to
spend federal funds. "I'm very concerned about the amount of money
we're talking about," Scott said. "What I don't want to do is bail
out the states. That's wrong."
**McConnell responds:**The majority leader recognized the party
divisions Tuesday. "I have members who are all over the lot on this," he
said. "This is a complicated problem. We've done the best we can to
develop a consensus among the broadest number of Republican senators -
and that's just the starting point, that's just where we begin in
dealing with the other side and with the administration."
McConnell added that he assumed the final bill would be more focused.
"When we get to the end of the process, I would hope all of the
non-Covid-related measures are out, no matter what bill they were in at
the start," he said.
The unrelated measures include the controversial funding request for the
FBI headquarters. On Tuesday, the Trump administration admitted that the
request had nothing to do with the pandemic. "There are a number of
things in the last bill that had nothing to do with the coronavirus,"
said White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. "I think everybody
acknowledges that it's a funding mechanism."
**Democrats no less critical:**Democratic leaders said that the
Republican bill gave them little to work with. "The Senate GOP proposal
is a sad statement of their values, selling out struggling families at
the kitchen table to enrich the corporate interests at the boardroom
table," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader
Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement. Pelosi also said that she
couldn't understand why Republicans would offer a bill that lacked
support from within their own party.
**Tough negotiations ahead:**The discord in Washington suggests that it
could take a good deal of time and effort to reach an agreement for the
next coronavirus bill.
As bipartisan negotiations on the next coronavirus package get underway,
Politico's Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer noted in their Tuesday morning
that "the general consensus of aides in both parties, on both ends of
Pennsylvania Avenue, is that Democrats have a healthy negotiating edge"
given that a broad portion of the Senate Republican caucus is going to
oppose the bill, making Democratic support all the more crucial.
Playbook laid out three scenarios for how the talks could go in the near
**1. A quick deal:**"The two sides scramble to reach agreement this
week. That's not going to be easy at all. One side would have to
**2. A short-term patch:**House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made clear she
has no interest in a narrower, short-term deal that would push off a
more sweeping package. "A short-term deal would require acrobatics,"
Sherman and Palmer write, "and that kind of maneuvering may be hard to
**3. Enhanced unemployment benefits expire and the pressure
builds:**"Frankly, it seems likelier than not that Congress will be
unable to do anything by Friday. If so, enhanced unemployment benefits
will run out, which will scramble all sorts of considerations."
The House is scheduled to leave town at the end of this week for an
extended summer break. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said
lawmakers would be on call to return for a vote - but that would
require a bill being ready for them to vote on.
Fight the Coronavirus With F-35s?
In addition to the roughly $1.8 billion the Republican proposal seeks
for a new FBI headquarters building, the bill includes more than $7
billion for various weapons systems.
A partial list of military items in the bill, which, as Roll Call notes
appears to benefit the country's two largest defense contractors,
Lockheed Martin and Boeing, the most:
* $1 billion for Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.
* $283 million for Boeing Apache helicopters.
* $650 million for A-10 Warthog attack jet refurbishment, a program run
* $200 million for Boeing's Ground-Based Midcourse Defense
* $686 million for Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth jets.
* $720 million for Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules transport planes.
* $1.5 billion for four medical ships.
* $375 million for upgrading Stryker infantry vehicles, a program run by
A spokesperson for Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chair of the
Appropriations Committee, defended the inclusion of weapons in the bill.
"The Defense Industrial Base (DIB) is essential to our economy and to
the defense of our nation," the spokesperson said. "This bill takes
steps to ensure that the DIB, along with the millions of jobs it
provides, are supported."
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), vice chair of the Appropriations Committee,
criticized the overall bill as inadequate, adding that, "If all of this
were not bad enough, the bill contains billions of dollars for programs
unrelated to the coronavirus, including over $8 billion for what appears
to be a wish-list from the Department of Defense for manufacturing of
planes, ships, and other weapons systems."
Editorial of the Day: 'This Is No Way to Design Coronavirus Fiscal
The editorial board at Bloomberg takes Republicans to task for their
handling of the coronavirus relief package:
"Details of the next phase of coronavirus relief should've been
resolved long before now - because the main ideas shouldn't be
controversial and time will be needed to implement them. Delay has
compounded the problem. Temporary fixes, meaning further argument and
holdup, will probably be needed to bridge the gap between the current
measures and whatever comes next.
"The blame for this object lesson in Washington dysfunction lies
squarely with the administration and its Republican allies. They are
only now presenting their response
to the Democratic plan that was passed by the House in May. The
Democrats' plan is certainly capable of improvement, but that's no
reason to leave so many households unsure of where they stand or to
burden the economy with further needless uncertainty."
The editorial calls for federal unemployment insurance benefits that
would replace 80% to 90% of a worker's prior earnings, higher than the
70% the GOP proposed, and $400 weekly payments until states can figure
out how to implement the wage-replacement program, in between the
current $600 and the $200 Republicans have suggested.
On the size of the overall package, Bloomberg's editors advocate for a
compromise between the GOP's $1 trillion and Democrats' more than $3
trillion, with the spending tied to the state of the pandemic and
economy. "A balance has to be struck between the extraordinary demands
of the coronavirus emergency and the need, in due course, to restore
fiscal discipline," it says.
Read the full editorial here.
**Yale study challenges GOP claims that jobless benefits discourage
work:**A new Yale University study finds no evidence that the $600 in
enhanced unemployment insurance benefits discourages people from
working. "We find that the workers who experienced larger increases in
UI generosity did not experience larger declines in employment when the
benefits expansion went into effect," the study
says. "Additionally, we find that workers facing larger expansions in UI
benefits have returned to their previous jobs over time at similar rates
as others. We find no evidence that more generous benefits
disincentivized work either at the onset of the expansion or as firms
looked to return to business over time." (Bloomberg Businessweek
**Coronavirus recession leads to Medicaid enrollment
increase:**Enrollment in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance
Program rose to 72.3 million in April, up from 71.5 million the month
before and 71 million in February, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid
Services said last week. That rise reverse a three-year decline, with
the increase in March the first since March 2017. "Yet, the growth in
participation in the state-federal health insurance program for
low-income people was less than many analysts predicted," Phil Galewitz
writes. "One possible factor tempering enrollment: People with concerns
about catching the coronavirus avoided seeking care and figured they
didn't need the coverage." Experts expect enrollment to continue
climbing this summer, with Robin Rudowitz of the Kaiser Family
Foundation noting that there is typically a lag of weeks or months
before people who have lost their health coverage look to enroll in
Medicaid. (Kaiser Health News
**Democrats reject Medicare for All amendment to platform:** Democratic
delegates on Monday overwhelmingly opposed an amendment to the party's
supporting Medicare for All, fending off efforts by allies of Sen.
Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to have the party endorse a single-payer system.
The platform committee also rejected other attempts to move the official
Democratic position closer to single-payer, such as an expansion of
Medicare to children and people over age 55. The committee-approved
platform to be voted on by delegates instead supports a public insurance
option. Unlike in 2016, though, it also says the party welcomes those
who want Medicare for All. More than 600 of the party's nearly 4,000
delegates have signed onto a pledge
to vote against the platform if it doesn't support Medicare for All.
(Wall Street Journal
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* GOP Coronavirus Bill Replaces Money for Pentagon Projects Trump Raided
for Border Wall
- Washington Post
* 'Ships Don't Feed Hungry Children': Democrats Blast Weapons Spending
in Senate GOP Stimulus
* Senate GOP Won't Extend Pandemic Food Stamps but Doubles
'Three-Martini Lunch' Deduction
- Washington Post
* Senate GOP's COVID-19 Response Sets up Battle Over Medicaid
- The Hill
* Republican Stimulus Package May Come With a Benefit for Big Banks
- New York Times
* Democrats Raise Red Flags on GOP Small Business Plan as Biden Weighs
* New GOP Small Business Rescue Plan Sparks Lobbying Fight
* House Democrats Yank Homeland Security Spending Bill From Floor
* Fed Extends Economic Support Programs Through December
* Vaccine Alliance Eyes Range of Prices for COVID Shots, Says $40 Would
* Top Democrats Urge IRS to Resolve Stimulus Payment Issues
- The Hill
* SBA IG Warns of 'Widespread Potential Fraud' in Economic Injury
Disaster Loan Program
- The Hill
* Biden Announces Plans to Boost Black and Latino Finances
- Washington Post
* Biden Tax Plan Targets Profitable Companies That Pay Almost Nothing
- Wall Street Journal
* Trump Administration To Loan Kodak $765M To Make Drug Ingredients
* President Trump Announces $265 Million Award to Fujifilm for
Coronavirus Vaccine Manufacturing
Views and Analysis
* The GOP Heals Act Fails to Heal People Harmed by the Coronavirus, Will
Cost Millions of Jobs, and Protects Bad Employers
- Thea M. Lee, Economic Policy Institute
* Who Will Fund $24 Trillion in New Government Debt?
- Brian Riedl, National Review
* Keep Your Eye on the Ball, Republicans
- Michael R. Strain, Bloomberg
* Stop Saving Businesses and Start Saving Schools
- Patricia Murphy, Roll Call
* Coronavirus Pandemic Has Accelerated Need to Cut Drug Prices
- Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Martha McSally (R-AZ), Fox News
* Recraft the EITC to Help Parents Caring For Children Who Can't
Return To School Full-Time
- Elaine Maag, Tax Policy Center
* Deforming the Tax Code
Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review
* Unemployment Insurance Reforms Are Necessary for COVID Relief
- Kenneth Megan, Bipartisan Policy Center
* Schools Need Flexible Federal Aid Now. What Should Congress Do Next?
- Sarah Reber and Nora Gordon, Brookings Institution
* Want Your Next Stimulus Check Faster? Congress Needs to Change Just
One Line of Law
- Aaron Klein, Brookings Institution
* Is Trump Bluffing on Rx Drugs? Dems Must Act Fast to Find Out
- Greg Orman, RealClearPolitics
* Why Hunger Can Grow Even When Poverty Doesn't
-Jason DeParle, New York Times
* Black Americans Deserve Affordable, Accessible Health Care
- Linda Goler Blount, Morning Consult
* America's Two Coronavirus Realities
- Dion Rabouin, Axios
* To Defeat COVID, Bring America's Full Power to the International Fight
- Madeleine Albright and Stephen Hadley, USA Today
* The US Needs a Green Stimulus-but Not Right Now
- James Temple, MIT Technology Review
* Why Biden May Follow Through on a Bolder Agenda
- Katrina vanden Heuvel, Washington Post
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