Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is continuing to criticize Democrats after stimulus relief bill negotiations collapsed last week. On Monday, McConnell took to Twitter to slam House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, claiming she and other Democrats were to blame for the stalemate as they refused to pass legislation that did not meet their "liberal demands."
The Speaker & Democratic Leader say not another dime for testing, treatments, or vaccines unless they get a huge tax cut for blue-state millionaires.
Taking our health system hostage over longtime, non-COVID-related, liberal demands.
This is a crisis. Let's govern like it.— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) August 11, 2020
According to McConnell, amid the nearly two weeks of negotiations, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the two top Democrats who met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, remained steadfast that the relief package include provision "non-COVID-related." While McConnell did not specify what those provisions were aside from mentioning "a huge tax cut for blue-state millionaires," he claimed they held the bill "hostage" and therefore prevented funding for "testing, treatments, or vaccines."
While little is known about what exactly occurred at the negotiation table behind closed doors, it is known that Democrats remained strict on a number of key issues. Among those issues was the $600 enhanced unemployment benefit, which they wished to see extended. Their HEROES Act proposal, which passed the House but was never brought to the Senate floor for a vote, also sought to extend stimulus check eligibility to Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) filers and their families. It also sought hazard pay for frontline workers and $175 billion in rent, mortgage, and utility assistance. In all, they believed that a large scale relief bill was needed, while Republicans were adamant that a price tag remain at approximately $3 million.
While McConnell seemed willing to slam Democrats for "non-COVID-related" provisions, he did not mention provisions included in his own proposal that were unrelated to the pandemic. The HEALS Act sought to provide $1.75 billion for a new FBI building, $377 million for a West Wing renovation, and billions of dollars for military weaponry. It also included a business lunch tax deduction. These provisions had been controversial even among Republicans, with McConnell having even stated that he wished to see such provisions absent from a final bill.
Due to their failure to reach a deal, President Donald Trump on Saturday bypassed Congress by signing an executive order and three memoranda. That order targets four aspects – unemployment benefits, a payroll tax cut, evictions, and student loans. Some have argued that his orders will do little to aid the American people and the legality of his actions have been questions. It is unclear if the order will face legal pushback, just as it is unclear if negotiations regarding another relief bill will continue.