'How much more suffering could you possibly need?': McConnell says he hasn't felt 'urgency' to act immediately on coronavirus relief

'Has Senator McConnell seen the lines of hungry Americans waiting at food banks? Has Senator McConnell seen last week’s jobs report or heard the pleas of millions of families who are worried about paying their rent?'

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 13 May 2020 18:55
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Mitch McConnell claims the Obama administration did not leave them a 'game plan' for a pandemic

Mitch McConnell has sparked a mounting backlash over comments he made earlier this week in which he declined to support another sweeping coronavirus relief package, saying he hasn’t yet “felt the urgency of acting immediately".

Democratic senators slammed the Senate Republican majority leader over his statements, citing the historic unemployment rate that skyrocketed to an estimated 14.6 percent and unprecedented number of Americans seeking aid at food banks across the country since the pandemic began.

“83,000 people are dead. 1.4 million Americans have become infected. 30 million workers have filed for unemployment,” Cory Booker, the Democratic senator of New Jersey, wrote in a tweet on Wednesday. “How much more suffering could you possibly need to see to be convinced that more help is urgently needed?”

Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic minority leader, also wrote in a tweet: “Has Senator McConnell seen the lines of hungry Americans waiting at food banks?”

He added: “Has Senator McConnell seen last week’s jobs report or heard the pleas of millions of families who are worried about paying their rent?”

Mr McConnell’s comments came a day before House Democrats unveiled their latest Covid-19 stimulus package. The bill would cost more than $3trn in total, according to the House Appropriations Committee, making it the largest relief package in US history.

The Democratic proposal included nearly $1trn for state and local governments, and additional direct payments to Americans of up to $6,000 per household. Congress was expected to vote on the bill as early as Friday.

However, any package would need to go up for a vote in the Senate before it can take effect — a decision left up to Mr McConnell, who has previously called for a “pause” on additional coronavirus relief.

“We're basically assessing what we've done already,” he told reporters on Monday. “I'm in constant communication with the White House and if we decide to go forward we'll go forward together.”

Larry Kudlow, a White House economic adviser, has also previously indicated that discussions over additional coronavirus relief packages would be effectively put on hold until June.

“As we move into the reopening phase this month, maybe spillover to June, let's have a look at it before we decide who, what, where, when”, he told reporters at the White House last week.

Chris Coons, the Democratic senator from Delaware, asked in a tweet: “How can Leader McConnell tell state and local government employees who are preparing to be laid off that he hasn’t ‘felt the urgency’ to pass additional aid to keep them on payroll?”

The official account for the House Democrats also condemned Mr McConnell over his comments, writing in a post on Tuesday: “What planet does [the Senate majority leader] live on?”

“Doctors and nurses don’t have the equipment they need,” the post read. “Children are going hungry. Millions are unemployed. Essential workers are fighting to make ends meet. State and local governments can barely stay afloat.”

As of Wednesday, more than 1.4 million people living in the US have contracted the novel virus and at least 83,333 people died due to complications resulting from Covid-19. The true number of cases and deaths surrounding the outbreak in the country were likely far higher, according to a growing pool of research.

The era of expansive job growth in the US following the Great Recession of 2008 has been nearly entirely erased since the pandemic began, with the unemployment rate rising to its worst levels since the Great Depression.

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