Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday accused Democrats of playing “Goldilocks games” with coronavirus relief to struggling Americans by refusing to agree to any bill until it was just right.
McConnell, R-Ky., made the remarks in the Senate after lawmakers returned from a summer recess without making any headway on legislation to help Americans reeling from the health crisis, joblessness and limited school reopenings. But McConnell tried to put the blame on Democrats for the impasse for rejecting piecemeal efforts.
“The Democratic leaders have spent months playing these Goldilocks games,” McConnell said Tuesday. “They’ve complained about every single thing we put forward. But they’ve produced nothing of their own with any chance whatsoever of becoming law.”
McConnell’s remarks came as he unveiled a scaled-back bill that the Senate is expected to vote on Thursday in a procedural motion. The legislation – expected to cost about $300 billion – has little chance of becoming law as Democrats panned it as “emaciated” compared with their $3 trillion proposal that passed the House in May.
McConnell framed the debate as an opportunity to do something.
“Senators will not be voting on whether this targeted package satisfies every one of their legislative hopes and dreams,” McConnell said. “That’s not what we will do in this chamber. We vote on whether to make laws, whether to forge a compromise, whether to do a lot of good for the country and keep arguing over the remaining differences later.”
But Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., panned McConnell’s attempt as a “show vote” that does nothing in terms of forging compromise. He knocked Republicans for leaving town this summer and returning now with a partisan measure that is going nowhere.
“Four weeks ago the Trump administration and the Senate Republican leadership walked away from the negotiating table,” Leahy said. “Democrats had offered compromise. Republicans said ‘my way or the highway’ and left town – just walked away from the Capitol. And we had all these things that needed to be done.”
The vote on the new legislation is expected on Thursday in the Senate. If McConnell can’t convince seven Democrats to join with his 53 Republicans on the procedural move, the legislation will die before even getting an up or down vote.
McConnell’s slimmed-down package is expected to spend about $300 billion in federal aid, Fox News has learned. The bill includes an extra $300 per week in unemployment benefits through Dec. 27 – down from the $600 weekly boost that expired at the end of July – a second round of Paycheck Protection Program funds to small businesses worth $258 billion, $105 billion for schools and colleges, and McConnell’s liability protection plan, which would limit lawsuits against businesses from employees or customers who contract COVID-19.
It also includes funding for school choice, day care providers, $16 billion for testing and contact tracing, and forgiving the $10 billion Treasury loan that was authorized by Congress in March to the U.S. Postal Service.
Fox News’ Kelly Phares, Jason Donner and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.