As the American public adjusts (in varying degrees) to life under the threat of the dreaded corona virus the legislative branch of our government reacts in typical fashion.
Our federal government was saddled early on with the reasonably clear duty of protecting the welfare and safety of its citizens. Unfortunately our Legislative Branch is failing to clear the low bar which it has set to measure its performance over the past decade. The minority party is of course quick to condemn the efforts of the present Administrative Branch to deal with the obvious health and financial issues presented by a previously unknown disease that in just a few short weeks has proved capable of spreading worldwide chaos.
The Trump administration is taking continuing steps to combat the virus and develop treatment plans and effective vaccinations and currently the U.S. is in various stages of “lock down”, depending upon the local population concentration. The future will no doubt provide limitless opportunity for the chattering classes to second guess the President regarding the quickness of his reaction to the threat but at this point our nation has not suffered the fatality rate of, for instance China (ground zero for the virus) or Italy.
Unfortunately attempts to structure financial relief for those affected by the voluntary, and in some places mandatory, sheltering in place necessary to constrain the spread of the virus have met with political deadlock. The Senate crafted a bill which included money for both individuals and businesses plus funding for hospitals and health providers and nearly $200 billion to help state and local governments to deal with the crisis. The bill needed sixty votes in the Senate to pass.
Unfortunately Republican Rand Paul, who has tested positive for the virus, and four other Republican Senators who had close contact with him have imposed a self-quarantine and were not present to vote. With no Democratic members of the Senate willing to appear impartial and support the measure thereby incurring the wrath of Minority Leader Democrat Charles Schumer the measure failed. Democrats are now insisting that time be allocated for a bill to be constructed by House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi that would more closely fit their demands for expansion of funding for food stamps, unemployment compensation and provisions blocking evictions and foreclosures.
Negotiations between congressional Republicans and Democrats have stalled as Democrats introduced several demands for additions to any coronavirus aid package. Those demands reportedly included “increased fuel emissions standards for airlines” as well as an “expansion of wind and solar tax credits.”
The legislative demands came after House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D., S.C.) told House Democrats on Thursday that the coronavirus stimulus represented “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”
In other words immediate relief for the public becomes a pawn to political jockeying.
May I suggest that my readers contact their appropriate members of Congress, whatever their political affiliation, and demand that they do their damn job – and remember their resulting actions this November.