“We are moving forward now on an initiative that goes from our legislative graveyard effort to … a focus on the horrors of the real graveyard we have right now,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, who chairs the party’s messaging arm in leadership. “And the cost of Republican inaction during the Covid crisis, which is very real.”
Stabenow and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are expected to formally launch their new messaging program on Tuesday. The Democratic Caucus will lean on McConnell’s Senate to start negotiating on the next relief package or pay the price as they defend their Senate majority this fall.
But McConnell and Senate Republicans are so far unmoved by Democrats’ tactics, even as both Democratic senators and the party’s campaign arm come down on vulnerable GOP incumbents.
“Senate Republicans led the way by passing the historic CARES Act that has delivered unprecedented aid to families, workers, medical providers, and small businesses across the country. Senator Stabenow seems more preoccupied with D.C. focus groups and retooling their message,” said Doug Andres, a spokesman for McConnell.
Still, if Stabenow and Schumer‘s relentless “legislative graveyard” effort is any guide, that means Senate Democrats will raise the issue on the Senate floor every day over the coming weeks to attack McConnell for not moving on the next bill. In addition to floor speeches, Stabenow’s Democratic Policy and Communications Committee has put out reports on coronavirus’s impacts on mental health, rural America and racial disparities.
But Republicans say they don’t know enough about how the $2 trillion CARES law approved in March is working to pass the next tranche of aid.
“We’ve got a half a trillion dollars that hasn’t made its way out the door,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a close McConnell ally who is working on liability reforms — a key GOP priority in the next package. “That’s going to take a little bit of time to negotiate. So I don’t feel any sense of urgency.”
“We’ve already passed four bills already,” he added. Roughly 80 percent of respondents approved of the last big bill passed by Congress in a recent Gallup poll.
Unemployment is currently roughly 15 percent and Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell said on Sunday it may spike as much as 10 percentage points higher. Democrats argue sending more money to local governments will help keep people on payrolls, but Republicans largely are advocating to reopen the economy to make states less dependent on federal aid.
Congress is currently stalled once again on what to do next. The House Democrats passed a $3 trillion aid bill last week without GOP or White House input that McConnell on Monday called “the legislative equivalent of a stand-up economy.”