Opinion

Coronavirus Is Spreading and Lawmakers Can’t Get Their Sh*t Together

As Americans brace ourselves for the impending effects of coronavirus preparations, one thing remains business as usual: a stalemate between Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Democrats introduced emergency measures on Wednesday.

The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) in the House, includes:

  • Economic measures for individuals: emergency unemployment insurance, paid sick leave, and loan payment relief.
  • Economic measures for small businesses: loan payment relief and disaster-relief grants
  • Emergency food and housing allowances
  • Funding to keep schools safe and prepared.
  • Free testing for coronavirus

The multi-billion-dollar emergency proposal was initially expected to garner at least some bipartisan support. However, despite the growing concerns over coronavirus, the bill remained at a partisan standstill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continued her attempts to persuade the Trump administration to support the bill, and promised to deliver it to the Senate floor Thursday.

“We’re bringing the bill to the floor,” Pelosi told reporters, declining to comment on whether the White House had expressed an opinion on the Democratic measure. She called the question “premature” but added that she thought the White House had gotten ample time to consider the proposals in the package.

Congressional Republicans have opposed the bill in its current state, with top officials telling press, “We continue to want to work with the Speaker, but if she’s choosing to pass a partisan bill then everyone needs to face that fact and what that means.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the first draft of the bill “off-base,” but applaudedTrump administration’s bipartisan negotiations with Pelosi.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also opposed the bill in its current form.

Sen. Murray condemned Republicans for opposing the legislation at such a critical time, writing in an op-ed: “For years, Democrats have pushed for federal paid sick days legislation that would allow workers to gradually earn seven paid sick days—and for years, Republican leaders have said no.”

Other Democratic lawmakers said that is an urgent situation and that the phones in Republican offices need to ring off the hook with messages of “get [your] shit together.”

President Donald Trump, for his part, may sign a disaster or emergency declaration on Thursday. As Law&Crime noted before, the emergency declaration would invoke the Stafford Act and mobilize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

On Wednesday night, he banned travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days.

It seems the McConnell-led Senate is in no rush, however.

[image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos

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