Last Wednesday, the Senate passed a $2 trillion stimulus package in response to the coronavirus. The House passed the bill and sent in to President Trump the following Friday who signed it into law.
For a seemingly bipartisan action to pass the largest aid package in US history, the stimulus package has garnered much controversy.
What originally was supposed to be a quick and bipartisan effort to get money into the hands of Americans that need it most in this time of crisis quickly turned into argument when Senate Democrats blocked the bill early last week.
In no time, Senate Republicans scrambled to accuse Democrats of partisan hackery and putting the American people at risk of dying so that they can have their way. This absurd showmanship and sudden sympathy for victims of COVID-19 on the part of Republicans comes after weeks of downplaying the seriousness of the virus and claiming that it has been exaggerated by the media.
On March 6, Fox News’ medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegal said on Hannity that “at worst, at worst, worst case scenario it could be the flu.” Senate Republicans suddenly changed their tune during debates on the Senate floor as they accused Democrats of putting the party over public safety.
However, during all of this theatrical finger-wagging both parties’ staff were continuously negotiating in their offices. As Senator Tim Kaine said: “What Americans didn’t see yesterday and today is the intense dialogue and debate and discussion around the third coronavirus response bill — by far the largest.”
So why would Republicans make such a big deal out of Democrats blocking the bill if they knew there would be an agreement reached within a couple of days?
It’s simple. Republicans have decided that bipartisanship is politically bad for them.
Despite what Republicans may have said, the Senate Democrats did not block the bill in order to boost themselves politically. They did it to make sure that the Senate wouldn’t make the same mistake of 2008 by bailing out corporations instead of making sure that the money ended up in the hands of Americans.
It is not as though the Democrats were asking to rewrite the entire bill. While still a deeply flawed package that will require more action in the near future, Democrats only looked to change issues such as providing more oversight to where the funding for corporations goes.
However, the Republicans have chosen to attack any sort of legislating on the side of the Democrats- even in the middle of a national crisis. Even as Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell declares the largest stimulus package in US history to be a bipartisan victory, this comes after a weeklong attack on Democrats as they continued to try and make the bill better for every American.
Now, as the next round of stimulus packages begin to float around legislative chambers, one has to wonder if Republicans are looking to work on both sides of the aisle to avert an economic recession, or if they are merely looking for another way to boost themselves politically.
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