McConnell Simply Wants to Blame Democrats, So Pelosi Takes Charge

Madam Speaker is once again showing her opponent how it’s done.

After taking an extended break over the prior weekend, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is suddenly in a hurry to rush through a stimulus package meant to shore up the economy during the crisis created by the coronavirus. He has brought his own bill up for a procedural vote twice (on Sunday and Monday), while negotiations between Democrats and the White House were still underway. The measure failed both times.

Here is how Democratic Senator Brian Schatz described what happened.

Here’s how the number two Republican in the Senate reacted to Democratic demands.

McConnell’s problem, in a nutshell, is that he can’t even win the support of Senator Joe Manchin, the one Democrat who is most likely to vote with Republicans.

If he can’t get Manchin, McConnell is never going to get enough votes to pass anything in the Senate. So why bring this bill up for a vote—twice? The answer to that question is that it allows someone like Senator Susan Collins to go into a rage against Democrats.

Yes, that is the same Senator Collins who only managed to furrow her brow and talk about her disappointment when the Republican president committed impeachable offenses. But now she’s really mad!

If you take the time to listen to Collins in that clip, you might notice that she talks about the need to help small businesses, but never once mentioned the big-ticket item in McConnell’s bill: a $500 billion slush fund for corporate bailouts that Secretary Mnuchin will be able to distribute as he pleases. But Senator Collins’ concern about the provision to help small businesses stems from the fact that she had a hand in writing that portion of the bill, which happens to also include this.

According to language in the bill forwarded to me by a senior Senate Democratic aide, this provision excludes “nonprofits receiving Medicaid expenditures,” which would not be eligible for those loans.

This language has been interpreted in some quarters as an effort to deny funding to Planned Parenthood, a longtime GOP target. But Democratic aides think the language means a lot more than this.

Specifically, Democratic aides believe this language would exclude from eligibility for this financial assistance a big range of other nonprofits that get Medicaid funding, such as home and community-based disability providers; community-based nursing homes, mental health providers and health centers; group homes for the disabled; and even rape crisis centers.

So spare us your hair-on-fire rants Ms. Collins, right along with your attempts to paint yourself as a “moderate” Republican. As Michael Grunwald tweeted about her performance on the floor of the Senate, “when someone demands to pass their $1.6 TRILLION stimulus because ‘we don’t have another MINUTE to delay,’ watch your wallet.”

At this point, Speaker Pelosi has had enough. On Monday, she rolled out a plan for the House to consider. With a nod to Trump’s refusal to take responsibility for his own failures during the coronavirus crisis, they have named the bill, the “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act.” Along with provisions to aid workers, small businesses, healthcare workers, families, and students, it includes this provision:

For our Democracy: Ensures that states can carry out this year’s election with billions in grant funding for states through the Election Assistance Commission and a national requirement for both 15 days of early voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail, including mailing a ballot to all registered voters in an emergency.

While McConnell and Senate Republicans are simply looking for an excuse to blame Democrats, Pelosi is in the process of once again taking charge to get something done for the American people. Of course, her male opponents aren’t real happy about that.

After the Senate suffered a crushing setback on efforts to pass a $1.6 trillion coronavirus rescue bill Sunday, Republicans reached for a familiar foe to blame: Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“She’s the speaker of the House, not the speaker of the Senate. We don’t have one,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said angrily after a key procedural vote failed due to Democratic opposition. “We were doing just fine until that intervention.”

As Senate leaders struggled to reach a deal Monday morning, Republicans continued to scapegoat Pelosi, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) blasting the speaker during an early appearance on Fox News and accusing Pelosi of trying to blackmail Republicans with a wish-list of demands.

In other words, the boys are having a bit of a temper tantrum because Madam Speaker is foiling their plot and once again showing them how it’s done.

Back in 2009, Pelosi published a book titled, “Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters.” She is now in the process of providing those daughters with an object lesson in how that’s done.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.