Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is continuing to slam Democrats amid the deadlock in stimulus relief bill negotiations in Congress. Weeks after those discussions between top Democrats and the Trump administration crumbled, McConnell blasted the opposing party for stalling further relief, accusing Democrats of "playing games."
McConnell made those claims in a tweet shared Monday afternoon, in which he shared a clip from his press conference. During that press conference, McConnell stated that "the coronavirus is not paying a whole lot of attention to the election, and the American people need additional assistance now." He added that any further assistance can only be achieved "on a bipartisan basis," something that he hopes will happen "soon."
The coronavirus does not care about the election. Struggling Americans need our help now, and that can only happen if Washington Democrats stop playing games and actually help the American people. pic.twitter.com/Xy2ixCAE7A— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) August 24, 2020
Talks have been at a standstill for weeks. Negotiations had begun just hours after McConnell had formally introduced the GOP's proposal, the HEALS Act, in late July, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell meeting daily with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Although both sides had agreed on a number of provisions — including a second round of stimulus checks — they remained divided on practically everything else, including enhanced unemployment benefits and funding the U.S. Postal Service.
Over the weekend, amid growing fears the USPS would not be able to handle the influx of mail-in ballots for the upcoming 2020 election due to the cuts the new Postmaster General has made, the House of Representatives was called back from recess for a vote. In a vote of 257-150, the House approved a bill providing $25 billion in funding to the USPS. That bill did not include anything to address the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis it has sparked, nor did the House discuss any further relief measures.
The lack of further discussion has led to increased fears further relief is not on its way, and the weeks since negotiations collapsed, Democrats and Republicans have been in a heated back-and-forth regarding who is to blame. Democrats have mostly pointed to the HEROES Act that they introduced in May, which also passed the House later that month, slamming Republicans for never bringing it to a vote and allowing it to fall to the side for months before introducing their own proposal. McConnell, meanwhile, has lashed out at Democrats for wishing to include non-COVID provisions, despite that his own bill also includes provisions unrelated to the pandemic.
At this time, it is unclear if an additional stimulus package will be passed. Republicans have since introduced a "skinny" package in an effort to offer some relief. Meadows, meanwhile, has stated that the White House is open to further negotiations, and President Donald Trump is "willing to sign" a slimmed-down package.