That bill from McConnell will not pass, and he doesn’t intend it to. He also doesn’t intend to put any other coronavirus relief bill on the floor. This is a sop to his Republican members who can point to the bill and say to voters “see, we did that,” and to his corporate overlords. This will keep them happy and spending on Republican reelection campaigns because it’s his promise to them to keep their interests paramount. It’s also enough for him to say: “We tried. Democrats wouldn’t let us do it.” Because it does nothing much to help people.
But because there is also a government funding deadline just three weeks away, after which Congress will turn to their election campaigns, the chances that more coronavirus relief happens are diminishing by the hour. There is no urgency from the White House. “I don’t know,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Politico when asked about prospects for another round. “We’ll see. I hope there is. It’s important to a lot of people out there.”
Democrats have come down in their demands from over $3 trillion with the HEROES Act to $2.2 trillion in negotiations with Mnuchin. McConnell won’t do that, despite the fact that it would probably pass in the Senate with all the Democrats and enough Republicans who are panicking behind it. McConnell is doing the only thing he intends to do: Offer a poisoned pill bill and leave it at that. That’s because instead of talking with Pelosi, with Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, with Mnuchin, he’s been negotiating solely with his Republican conference, not willing to put anything on the floor that doesn’t have majority support there. Which means the extremists who want no more relief—Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Ron Johnson—win. They get a stripped down bill that can’t pass.
There is not going to be more coronavirus help for anyone because McConnell will only negotiate with Republican senators. When not acting can result in real economic disaster, even a depression. The cynicism, the corruption, the total disregard for any consequences—it’s all just mind-boggling. But it’s happening and there damn well has to be hell to pay for McConnell and every complicit Republican.