News & Politics

McConnell Wants the Senate to Catch Its Breath Before Next Round of Coronavirus Funding

McConnell Wants the Senate to Catch Its Breath Before Next Round of Coronavirus Funding
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks to the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Democrats and some Republicans are demanding another coronavirus relief bill be taken up in Congress immediately, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is making it clear there will be no more long-distance attempts at legislation and that the next virus relief measure will be voted on by the Senate — in person.


McConnell said the Senate will proceed “cautiously” to the next phase of coronavirus relief despite rapidly escalating demands for more aid from members of both parties. And he said that all 100 senators need to be around before Washington spends more money on an unprecedented economic rescue of workers and businesses caught in the virus’ fallout.

“You’ve seen the talk from both sides about acting, but my goal from the beginning of this, given the extraordinary numbers that we’re racking up to the national debt, is that we need to be as cautious as we can be,” McConnell said. “We need to see how things are working, see what needs to be corrected, and I do think that the next time we pass a coronavirus rescue bill we need to have everyone here and everyone engaged.”

Democrats want to keep the party going. The time is getting short for crisis legislating, where hundreds of billions of dollars can be shoveled out the door without Congress blinking an eye.

McConnell is saying, that time has passed. And the two Senate budget hawks — Mike Lee and Rand Paul — have had enough as well.

Two Republican senators openly fumed on the Senate floor on Tuesday about passing bills without input from individual lawmakers of Congress. Had either objected, the bipartisan deal would have been derailed and senators would have been hauled back to D.C.

“It’s time to do our job. It’s time to return to Washington and get to work,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). “We can’t legislate without our members here.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he would not demand a recorded vote that would have upended McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s plans to quickly pass the aid package. But he warned of the “massive debt Congress is creating,” called for the economy to open up and officially registered his opposition to the bill. He also offered a motion to allow remote voting, but McConnell blocked it.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is a bit disappointed that the nation is on the path to recovery without the hundreds of billions of dollars in more in spending he wants to pile on the debt.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) lamented on Tuesday that additional state and local government funding was left out of the deal and discussed the need for such relief in the next package with his caucus. Some Republicans, like Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana have endorsed large sums of new money to help out states and cities whose budgets have been blown open by the coronavirus restrictions.

Something is going to have to give. Either Democrats are going to have to bite the bullet — hard — and accept massive budget cuts, or someone, somewhere, somehow is going to have to raise taxes. A $4 trillion federal deficit is unacceptable. Washington hasn’t seen this level of debt since the end of World War II. All we did there was build a 10 million-man army, 80,000 warplanes, 50,000 tanks, 800 ships, and an atomic bomb.

We’re spending these trillions all to defeat a little tiny bug.

Admittedly, that bug has unleashed widespread chaos and damage, both in human lives and the economy. But if we’re going to take the attitude that the federal government can fix anything and everything if we just throw enough money at the problem, the productive class will be taxed into oblivion.

A good case can be made for the necessity of this spending. But McConnell’s belief that we need to be “cautious” and that we “need to see how things are working” before piling on more debt is sound, reasonable, responsible governance.

Too bad the rest of Congress isn’t like that.