It's been 118 days since the House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which Sen. Mitch McConnell has refused to take up, and it's 20 days until the government runs out of funding with the end of the fiscal year. Millions of Americans—across the country—say it is likely they will lose their homes in the next two months. We are in a "deep state budget crisis" that is "causing sizable public-sector job losses, especially in K-12 and higher education." State and local governments are hemorrhaging workers.
McConnell is responding with a "skinny" bill, to be voted on Thursday, that partially funds school reopening, and doesn't do a whole lot else. Oh, except the coal industry bailout. There isn't funding to make sure the 14 million children who are food insecure can be fed. There isn't funding to make sure people don't lose their homes. There isn't even the measly second round of $1,200 payments to individuals that even the Trump White House wants to see happen. This is a bill entirely negotiated with Republicans, and as of this writing it's not even clear that McConnell has 51 Republicans to pass it. That's because there aren't 51 Republicans in the Senate who give a damn about your livelihood. Or your life, for that matter.
The bill failed, as predicted, 52-47 (it was a cloture vote, needing 60 votes to advance. Sen. Harris was not there to vote, Sen. Rand Paul voted “no” and no Democrats voted with Republicans. McConnell will call it a “win” because he got more than 51 votes and all he cares about is keeping his conference together. It does not matter to him that millions of people are facing life and death struggles.
This is a $500 billion bill—down from the unacceptable $1 trillion HEALS Act McConnell tried to push back in July. It was slashed in half because he really couldn't get 51 Republicans behind that figure. He's holding this vote, which is obviously entirely symbolic because it will never pass the House, for his vulnerable Republicans who feel like they have to have another vote before they go home to campaign. The outcome matters naught to them. Just have the vote. As Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer says, it's a "check the box" vote.
There's minimal assistance to the unemployed—a $300/week bump to replace the $600/week enhancement that expired in July. There's Payment Protection Program money, allowing companies who've already gotten one loan to get another. (Disclosure: Kos Media received a Paycheck Protection Program loan.) It does not include any aid to state and local governments. Meaning more people will lose their public sector jobs and more people will be needing unemployment insurance, Medicaid, and food stamps. More people will lose their homes.
"Instead of improving their offer, Senate Republicans have made it stingier and even less appropriate to the looming crisis that we have," Schumer says of the bill. "I'm not sure what kind of negotiating strategy that is, but it sure isn't serious strategy, and it sure won't be successful." The real problem is that McConnell is framing this as the last train out of the station for coronavirus relief before the election. He fully intends to do no more on the crisis.