As the U.S. Senate considered the $2 trillion bipartisan coronavirus stimulus on Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) prevented Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) from speaking. Schumer condemned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for delivering a “partisan screed” after Democrats blocked the passage of the stimulus bill on Sunday night.
In an effort to prevent Republicans from speaking, Schumer objected when Collins made a motion to speak.
“I ask unanimous consent that proceedings under the quorum be dispensed with,” Collins said.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), presiding over the chamber, asked if there was an objection, and Schumer said, “I object.”
McConnell responded, “Oh, come on.” Collins said, “This is unbelievable.”
.@SenatorCollins: "I ask unanimous consent that proceedings under the quorum be dispensed with."
Collins: "This is unbelievable." pic.twitter.com/Bg3pBv09Ch
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 23, 2020
“Tensions REALLY high on the Senate floor now,” Fox News reporter Chad Pergram tweeted. “Schumer blocking all GOPers from speaking. Won’t let them come out of the quroum call. Sen Susan Collins (R-ME): ‘This is unbelievable.’ GOPers then return the favor and block Schumer. They are REALLY at each other’s throats now.”
Tensions REALLY high on the Senate floor now. Schumer blocking all GOPers from speaking. Won't let them come out of the quroum call. Sen Susan Collins (R-ME):
"This is unbelievable."
GOPers then return the favor and block Schumer.
They are REALLY at each other’s throats now.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) March 23, 2020
Matt Whitlock, senior advisor at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), explained why Schumer denying Collins a chance to speak was particularly noteworthy. The Republican senator has “been working with Ben Cardin on the Small Business portion of the relief bill for several days. Probably one of the most widely supported portions of the bill.”
Pretty shocking to see Schumer block Collins being able to even speak on the floor — she's been working with Ben Cardin on the Small Business portion of the relief bill for several days.
Probably one of the most widely supported portions of the bill. https://t.co/PYj0OrQik4
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) March 23, 2020
Collins returned to the floor to excoriate Schumer for his “unbelievable” action against her.
“Unbelievably, the Democratic leader objected to my even being able to speak this morning. Is that what we’ve come to? The Democratic leader objected to our convening at 9 o’clock this morning so that we could begin working in earnest. Is that what we’ve come to? The fact is, we have been working on a bipartisan effort through a task force with both Republicans and Democrats, making very good progress, and putting together a comprehensive package — the third package that we have dealt with,” she said.
“This one is to address and prevent the economic devastation that is being caused by this virus. We don’t have another day. We don’t have another hour. We don’t have another minute to delay acting,” Collins continued.
Sen. Susan Collins rips Chuck Schumer for delaying action on the relief bill:
“The Democratic leader objected to my even being able to speak this morning? Is that what we’ve come to?”
“We don’t have another day. We don’t have another hour…”pic.twitter.com/eDyhnFs6VV
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) March 23, 2020
Earlier on Monday, McConnell called on the Democrats to join Republicans in passing “historic relief that we have built together.” Schumer spoke immediately afterward, condemning the majority leader for “making partisan speech after partisan speech.”
.@senatemajldr: "At a time when everybody else in the country is pulling together, they are pulling us apart."@SenSchumer: "We Democrats are trying to get things done. Not making partisan speech after partisan speech." pic.twitter.com/qAtQbKEJCj
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 23, 2020
Both Republicans and Democrats worked together to draft the $2 trillion stimulus bill, with Republicans making key concessions to Democrats. Yet Democrats blocked the bill on Sunday night, claiming that they opposed a corporate “slush fund” to bail out businesses suffering from the effects of social distancing as Americans attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Tellingly, Schumer praised “bipartisan cooperation” on the bill on Sunday, but on Monday he slammed the bill as “Republican-only,” National Review‘s John McCormack noted.
Schumer now calling Senate bill a "Republican-only bill."
Schumer Sunday: "to my delight and surprise there has been a great deal of bipartisan cooperation" https://t.co/Ro9qxf1ZlE
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) March 23, 2020
It appears Democrats are attempting to foist liberal policy on the American public through the coronavirus bills. Democrats tried to smuggle abortion funding into the second coronavirus bill.
During the debate on the current bill, a Democratic aide complained that the small business provision would not include nonprofits that receive Medicaid funds, particularly Planned Parenthood.
On Monday, a senior Republican aide told Townhall’s Guy Benson that Schumer and Pelosi are pushing “unprecedented collective bargaining powers for unions,” “increased fuel emissions standards for airlines,” and “expansion of wind and solar tax credits.” These provisions would arguably make the situation even worse for businesses.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) confirmed this report. “This is what Democrats torpedoed the rescue package for. This will go down as one of the most cynical, disgusting, malevolent actions in history. Millions are losing jobs while they play these games,” he tweeted.
I can confirm this. This is what Democrats torpedoed the rescue package for.
This will go down as one of the most cynical, disgusting, malevolent actions in history. Millions are losing jobs while they play these games. https://t.co/SUCtYxmXGo
— Rep. Dan Crenshaw (@RepDanCrenshaw) March 23, 2020
Democrats may hope to get more of their liberal wish-list crammed into the coronavirus stimulus bill because Senate Republicans entered self-quarantine after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tested positive for the coronavirus. Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) missed the vote because they entered self-quarantine after exposure to Rand Paul. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) also entered self-quarantine unrelated to Rand Paul’s announcement.
It seems Democrats are engaging in political gamesmanship on this bill because their Republican colleagues have been benched due to the very coronavirus that threatens the economy. This is utterly disgusting.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.