McConnell: Democrats Aren’t Playing “Hardball” Against Republicans, But Against Kids, Laid-Off Workers, and Science

‘This is not a Washington game. It’s a national crisis. It would serve the nation better if the Democratic leaders would act like it’s a crisis.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding COVID-19 relief:

“There’s been a lot of focus lately on the drama here in Washington D.C. For weeks now, as leading Democrats blocked more pandemic relief over unrelated liberal demands, the press has covered their stonewalling like any ordinary political standoff.

“Who talked to whom? Who said what in which meeting? What new metaphor did Speaker Pelosi use today to explain she was blocking progress?

“But it does the nation a disservice to act like the last several weeks were just another routine political stand-off. It does struggling families, and laid-off workers, and stressed-out school principals, and healthcare professionals a disservice to act like this has just been more Washington gridlock.

“The New York Times proclaimed a few days ago that “[Speaker] Pelosi is Playing Hardball on Coronavirus Relief.”

“Well, that’s one way to put it.

“You could say it’s “playing hardball” to refuse any outcome for the country. You could say it’s “playing hardball” to insist on non-COVID-related liberal policy changes that the Speaker and the Democratic Leader know would never pass the Senate or be signed into law by the President.

“But if the Democrats’ are “playing hardball,” their opponents aren’t us Republicans. Not really. They are playing hardball against kids, workers, and vulnerable Americans who need help. They are playing hardball against our medical system.

“When the Speaker and the Democratic Leader say they won’t allow another dime for testing, treatments, or vaccines unless they can bring home a massive tax cut for millionaires in San Francisco and New York City — they are playing hardball against our nation’s ability to detect and fight this virus. They are playing hardball against science.

“When the Speaker and the Democratic Leader say they will not allow another cent for schools to re-open or for the job-saving PPP unless they get a trillion dollars for a state and local slush fund that’s completely out of proportion to actual needs — they are playing hardball against children and parents.

“When the Speaker and the Democratic Leader say they will not allow any resolution on any issue unless Democrats can pay people more not to work — they are playing hardball against millions of households that ought to get another stimulus check, and against the ability of jobless people to get any federal benefit whatsoever.

“There are life and death matters at stake -- but Democrats have treated this historic national crisis as a political game.


“Just look at the “red lines” the Democrats’ leaders have drawn around these negotiations.

“Imagine sitting down with a working family at their kitchen table and explaining that these are the kinds of issues over which the Speaker and the Democratic Leader are refusing to let them have relief.

“First, as I mentioned, the Democratic Leader has made clear he doesn’t want any pandemic relief to become law unless it carries a special state-and-local tax carveout for high-earners in places like New York.

“Just imagine these Democratic leaders from New York and San Francisco going anywhere in the middle of the country and telling a working family of four earning $40,000 a year that they aren’t getting a relief check that would increase their income by 10% until millionaires in Manhattan get a tax cut.

“Economists on all sides have panned this. A huge, costly tax cut for wealthy people in blue states is not the life raft that struggling people need. Even liberal economists have jumped ship.

“Here’s what one self-identified progressive told reporters: “This is not a good idea... It would not help the economy heal and it would not benefit the people who need help.” And these are the economists on their side.

“But forget about the experts, forget about laid-off people, forget about Middle America. The Speaker and the Democratic Leader want to cut off funding for our war with the coronavirus unless they get this special carve-out.

“Here’s another one of these dead-on-arrival demands: Democrats insist that working families, small businesses, and healthcare providers will not get any more help unless a new trillion-dollar slush fund for poorly-managed states tags along.

“Bear in mind that states and localities have only spent about a fourth of the money we already sent them in the springtime. Even Senate Democrats seem to acknowledge this — for example, by sponsoring legislation that would extend the deadline for the states to spend down their CARES Act aid. The states need extra time to spend what we’ve already sent them.

“And the serious estimates of the COVID shortfall that state and local governments may face are a fraction of the Democrats’ trillion-dollar demand. Their demands aren’t based on math. They aren’t based on the pandemic. They want a massive slush fund to make up for decades of mismanagement. It’s just how the Speaker explained her view of this crisis — quote: “This is an opportunity. Every crisis is.”

“That same opportunism leads them to another absurd demand: Democrats say nobody should get any more help unless the federal government sends out jobless benefits that pay more than what people made working.

“Republicans support extending a federal supplement for unemployment. But we share the view of Democrats like the House Democratic Majority Leader, the senior Senator for Maryland, the Democratic Governor of Connecticut — all of whom indicated it should be doable to land somewhere smarter than a flat $600.

“This is not complicated. Both sides want to help unemployed people. Republicans never wanted the federal benefit to lapse to zero and tried to extend the money. But as our economy tries to re-open, there’s no reason Uncle Sam should take taxes out of essential workers’ paychecks to pay other people more to stay home.

“This is just a flavor of the Democrat demands. The two parties should have been able to agree on a huge sweep of subjects — from testing; to school money; to legal protections; to direct payments; and more.

“Republicans wanted to reach an agreement everywhere we could and then continue to fight over the contested questions later.

“But the Democrats said no — because they know their unrelated wish-list items would have no prayer of standing on their own merit.

“Only these hostage tactics could possibly get their bad ideas across the finish line. So struggling people have waited, and waited, and gotten nothing.

“That has been the Democrats’ decision. Reporters can call it “hardball,” like this was some ordinary standstill.

“But families are suffering. Americans are dying.

“This is not a Washington game. It’s a national crisis. It would serve the nation better if the Democratic leaders would act like it’s a crisis.”

Related Issues: Small Business, COVID-19, Education, Economy, Jobs, Senate Democrats, Health Care