Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is joining in on the blame game after congressional lawmakers failed to reach a deal on another stimulus relief bill. Just days after negotiations collapsed and President Donald Trump bypassed Congress by issuing an executive order, McConnell, in a series of Monday tweets, slammed Democrats for holding the legislation "hostage."
I hoped this week we’d be finalizing major legislation. After all, American families are struggling and need help. But Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer decided not to deliver. I am glad the president stepped in to soften the blow of their hostage tactics.— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) August 10, 2020
McConnell had led the GOP in introducing their proposal, the HEALS Act, which was revealed on July 27, more than two months after Democrats had launched their plan, the HEROES Act. The HEROES Act had been approved in the House of Representatives, though McConnell had refused to bring it to a vote in the Senate, dubbing it a "$3 trillion left-wing wish list." Instead, in July, he began crafting a Republican proposal with a $ trillion price tag.
The HEALS Act sought to address a number of aspects of the economic crisis. Along with the second round of stimulus payments, the bill sought to extend the $600 enhanced unemployment benefit at $400 per week and also provided funding for coronavirus testing, contact tracing, and schools as they began to reopen. While Democrats also supposed an additional round of stimulus payments, there wasn't much else both sides could agree on, and negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and White House chief of staff largely remained deadlocked until completely collapsing. According to McConnell, the blame for the collapse lies entirely on Democrats.
Because of Democrats’ obstruction, the extra federal unemployment aid expired. The PPP is closed with no second round in sight. No new money for testing or schools. No second round of checks to families. Democrats held all this hostage for non-COVID-related liberal priorities.— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) August 10, 2020
Since the president's signing of an executive order and three memoranda addressing unemployment benefits, evictions, a payroll tax cut, and student loans, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have begun pointing fingers regarding who is to blame for the collapse in discussions. On Monday, the president cast blame on Democrats, criticizing Democratic leaders for being "hardliners" who "only wanted BAILOUT MONEY for Democrat run states and cities that are failing badly." Meanwhile, many people have pointed out McConnell's refusal to take up the HEROES Act months ago.
Despite the finger-pointing, both sides are signaling that they are willing to head back to the table to continue negotiations to reach a deal. It is unclear, however, if talks will, in fact, continue or if both sides would be able to work through their differences should discussions be renewed.