Campaign for Working Families

Monday, March 23, 2020 -- Let Us Pray For You, Senate Stalemate, Good News

Let Us Pray For You
Just hearing from many friends, I know there is tremendous anxiety around the country.  We share it too.  We have a pregnant daughter, and Carol and I are concerned about what the hospitals might be like in a few weeks. 
During this time, our staff, like many Americans, is working remotely.  But we are still working diligently to keep you up-to-date and informed as the coronavirus crisis develops.  I also know there is nothing as powerful or as comforting as prayer, and I want you to know that we are here for you. 
If you're wrestling with anything right now – medical issues, personal or business financial issues, if you have been laid off or have a loved one who has been infected with coronavirus – please send us a short message and we will add you to our prayer list.  In the days ahead, our staff will take these requests and pray for each person by name.  (Please use this link to respond.)
Senate Stalemate
For the last three days Republican and Democrat senators have worked together almost non-stop to craft an emergency coronavirus relief bill that would satisfy both sides.  Obviously, that means neither side gets everything it wants.  But throughout the weekend, reports indicated that senators were close to reaching an agreement.
Then last night, a procedural vote was held in the Senate to begin debate on the legislation.  Keep in mind, this is not a final vote on the bill.  It was just a vote to begin 30 hours of debate. 
With the nation on edge, and financial markets down 35%, the vote to begin debate failed 47-to-47.  Not one Democrat senator voted to move forward.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is further hampered by the fact that several GOP senators are in quarantine.

Predictably, most media failed to accurately report the reason for the breakdown.  To its credit, The Hill posted this headline:  "Senate Democrats Block Mammoth Coronavirus Stimulus Package."  McConnell was furious, and last night he blasted left-wing senators for "fiddling" in the middle of this crisis.
There are millions of people and hundreds of thousands of businesses that desperately need these funds.  The overnight futures markets collapsed, and the Dow dropped more than 500 points at the opening bell this morning. 
Yet, even as the economic damage continues to pile up, Senate Democrats dug in.  Chuck Schumer blocked another vote this morning.
Contrast this to what happened when Speaker Nancy Pelosi rammed through a bill with virtually no Republican input in the House.  It went to the Senate and GOP senators tried to make improvements.  Some were made, but there wasn't enough time to make big changes. 
So the GOP leadership agreed to accept it, with a handshake with House Democrats on the understanding that a corrective piece of legislation would move next through the Senate. 
Referring to the House bill, McConnell told his caucus to "Gag and vote for it."  And that's exactly what happened because Republican senators put the interests of the country first, rather than the demands of the "Resistance movement."
"Ideological Wish List"
One issue holding up the rescue bill is that Democrats don't want money going to businesses.  They claim that they want to help workers.  Well, how do you help workers without helping businesses? 
The compromise bill that was developed would provide businesses with bridge loans so they could continue paying their workers.  And if they don't lay off workers, the loans would be forgiven.  That is a completely logical way to help American workers. 
But right now it seems that Democrat leaders are more afraid of Donald Trump being seen as successfully handling the crisis than they are of the economic and human damage the virus is inflicting.
Sen. McConnell and other Republicans are ripping Speaker Nancy Pelosi for holding up the coronavirus relief bill as the left pursues an "ideological wish list."  McConnell thought he had an agreement yesterday to move forward, but all that changed when Nancy Pelosi returned to Washington. 
In fact, Rep. James Clyburn, a member of the House Democrat leadership, said that the "phase three" bill would be "a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision."  Democrats are now demanding a host of unrelated things from expanding union bargaining rights to wiping out student loan debt, plus new climate change regulations.
"I'll tell you what will really lower our carbon footprint," McConnell said today on the Senate floor.  "If the entire economy continues to crumble with hundreds of thousands of Americans laid off because Senate Democrats won't let us act. . .  This is no time for this nonsense!"
Just one more thing to remember in November.
Good News
There will be plenty of time in the days ahead to hold our elected officials accountable for politicizing this pandemic.  Right now, I'd like to comment on some examples of Americans who are appealing to what Abraham Lincoln referred to as the "better angels of our nature."
There appears to be a rebirth of patriotism in America. In the neighborhoods where I walk each morning, I've noticed American flags being flown by people who have rarely, if ever, flown them before.
Schools across the country have closed, but that isn't stopping some students from continuing to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Multiple families in one Ohio suburb have started a daily tradition of standing outside their homes and reciting the words in unison.
As Mary Kressler explained, "I wanted to teach them that patriotism is awesome and they should be proud to live in America. They need to learn that when things get tough, everything will be okay when we stick together."
Henry Lallave, a Vietnam veteran and 9/11 first responder, has been walking the streets of New York City carrying an enormous American flag from 9/11 as a way to inspire today's first responders and instill hope in a city that is once again on the frontlines of a national crisis.
All over the country, there are stories that may never be told — stories of young people shopping for the elderly; of people with facemasks dropping them off at nearby hospitals; and of small businesses that are no longer open keeping their employees on payroll for as long as possible.
All of which is to say that even in an increasingly secular and cynical America, there is still a deep reservoir of goodwill based on our shared Judeo-Christian values and Jesus's command to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
While we don't yet know how this crisis will play out, there are many people suggesting that we need to shift back to work.  We must maintain the economic viability of the nation in order to deal with the human tragedies.
Late last night, President Trump expressed similar sentiments.  In a tweet, he wrote that the cure cannot be worse than the problem itself, and that at the end of this 15-day period, we will reevaluate the situation. 
It is crucial that we keep everything in perspective.  So far, the U.S. has just over 35,300 confirmed coronavirus cases, resulting in 473 deaths.  This year's regular flu has resulted in 36 million flu infections, with 370,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths.