Congressional Democrats 'cave' on critical funding priorities in latest coronavirus relief bill

Congressional Democrats 'cave' on critical funding priorities in latest coronavirus relief bill
AFGE members and AFGE National President Cox join Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer at the Capitol to discuss the partial government shutdown and impact on federal workers. AFGE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Progressives exploded in frustration Tuesday as the Senate prepared to pass an interim funding bill for coronavirus relief that once again included no funding for the Post Office, food banks, or election security, and provided no bailout oversight and no funding for states and cities—leading critics to wonder why Democratic lawmakers refused to use their leverage and hold up the bill.


"This isn't good," tweeted The Nation's national affairs correspondent Jeet Heer. "It's imperative to get money out the door fast but these are one sided agreements."

According to Politico, a deal on the legislation was reached Tuesday afternoon after negotiations between Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and the White House yielded a bill that all parties were happy with. President Donald Trump has indicated he will sign the legislation.

As Politico reported:

Aides in both parties said they were still finalizing the legislation throughout the day and making sure it could pass unanimously. Schumer said staffers were working out the specifics of the massive $484 billion package, which will mark Congress' fourth major infusion of coronavirus aid.

The bill does include $321 billion for small businesses, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for coronavirus testing. But to Center on Budget and Policy Priorities president Robert Greenstein, that's not enough.

"While providing needed support to small businesses and hospitals, the new COVID-19 package announced today falls short even as an interim measure, failing to deliver crucial state and local fiscal relief and food assistance," Greenstein said in a statement Tuesday. 

Critics of the bill pointed out that House Democrats could have moved to pass their own bill addressing issues important to progressives.

Mother Jones reporter Ari Berman noted that the bill, which contains no election funding, flies in the face of assurances by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that it would.

In the context of the missed opportunities, journalist Jack Mirkinson questioned whether Democrats were in fact "caving" on the legislation.

"Democrats control the House and could have passed their own bill and negotiated from there, so this doesn't seem like a 'cave' so much as a 'choice' from them," said Mirkinson.

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