With tensions boiling over in the U.S. Senate as lawmakers negotiate one of the most expensive stimulus packages in American history to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Sen. John Cornyn doing his best to misinform others about the life and death questions being debated on the Senate floor.
For the second time in two days on Monday, Senate Democrats blocked a procedural vote for a GOP shell bill, again citing issues with where the money from the expected $2 trillion spending package will go.
Cornyn has been waving away those critical objections over worker protections and more in typical fashion:
“We have an obligation to get the details right, get them done quickly. That doesn’t mean blindly accepting a Republican-only bill,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor on Monday, calling the arbitrary procedural votes demanded by Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) irrelevant. “That was the bill we were given, with lots of things we didn’t even know about.”
One of the Democrat’s main objections to the GOP bill revolves around the $500 billion slated for companies and corporations being negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, including $58 billion for airline and air cargo companies. Democrats fear that the relief money would be under the control of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin with little oversight or regulation.
Details in the proposed GOP bill allows Mnuchin to waive the restriction on stock buybacks, withhold the names of companies receiving federal aid, and also withhold information about the amount of aid companies are receiving for six months at Mnuchin’s discretion, according to Politico.
That’s especially problematic for airline companies — which have spent 96 percent of free cash on stock repurchases over the past decade — and for Donald Trump, whose businesses could stand to benefit from the stimulus:
In their negotiations, Democrats are also seeking more unemployment benefits (including for contractors), more worker protections, and more federal aid for hospitals and states fighting or struggling under the pandemic. Many of those provisions are included in a newly unveiled House Democrat bill announced Monday after negotiations in the Senate stalled.
“The Senate Republicans’ bill, as presented, put corporations first, not workers and families,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said on Monday touting the House version.
On the Senate floor over the weekend, Cornyn accused Democrats of trying to implement “ideological goals” and trying to take advantage of the Covid-19 emergency. He later joined the chorus of fellow Republicans trying to pressure Democrats into passing a partisan bill that lacks regulations, gives major authority over hundreds of billions of dollars to the Trump Administration, and lacks basic provisions for those most affected by the pandemic.
With more than 43,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., including 755 in Texas, both sides are in agreement that speed is of the essence. At the same time, however, trillions of dollars worth of taxpayer money are being debated, an amount that dwarves the stimulus package seen during the 2008 recession. Democrats are right to proceed with caution over who is benefiting the most — either working-class Texans or rich executives — from the looming and sweeping stimulus package.
Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org