Democrats oppose a business relief package proposed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, dismissed the McConnell bill as “a political stunt” in a recent appearance on MSNBC. On Friday Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan attacked Jones for opposing the relief bill and for the political stunt comment.
“During these unprecedented threatening times in our state and nation, Senator Doug Jones chose to go on MSNBC to attack Republicans for introducing a bill that would help small business owners who are negatively impacted by the Coronavirus epidemic – some who will permanently lose their entire livelihood for their families. He called the Senate bill ‘a political stunt’,” Lathan said in a statement. “Senator Jones, this is not a ‘political stunt’. This ‘thing’ – as you called it – is relief for our people who are suffering from the negative economic impact this crisis is having on our state and nation. They need it fast and they need it now.”
“It’s time for Senator Jones to join in President Trump’s ‘Whole of America’ response to the pandemic – with everyone working together – instead of being Chuck Schumer’s partisan knee jerk messenger on liberal MSNBC,” Lathan continued. “His use of time on MSNBC instead of working on this problem is the perfect example of a ‘political stunt’.”
“Much of the CARES Act is still being implemented, but one key program is already up and running. It’s the Paycheck Protection Program, from Chairman Rubio, Chairman Collins, Senator Cardin, and Senator Shaheen,” Sen. McConnell said in comments on the Senate floor. ‘It gives small businesses emergency capital so that workers can keep getting paychecks instead of pink slips. Just a few days after the program opened for business, $100 billion in loans have already been committed. That is 30 percent of the total funding, spoken for in just the first few days. That is very good news. It means this job-saving program is attractive to small businesses. Employers can access it. But it also means we need more funding and we need it fast. ‘
“Soon I will ask unanimous consent to increase the funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to a new total of $600 billion,” McConnell explained. “I’m not talking about changing any policy language that both sides negotiated together. I am literally talking about deleting the number 350 and writing 600 in its place. A completely clean bill. I want to add more money to the only part of our bipartisan bill that is currently at risk of running out of money.”
“So I was surprised to see this simple proposal met uneasily by the Democratic leadership,” McConnell continued. “The distinguished Democratic Leader and the Speaker of the House sought to use this crucial program to open broader negotiations on other topics, including parts of the CARES Act where literally no money has gone out the door yet. The Democratic leadership has suggested they may hold Americans’ paychecks hostage unless we pass another sweeping bill that spends half a trillion dollars doubling down on a number of parts of the CARES Act, including parts that have not even started to work yet. The country cannot afford unnecessary wrangling or political maneuvering. Treating this as a normal, partisan negotiation could literally cost Americans their jobs. “
“We are in a situation right now where passing a bill means either unanimous consent or a voice vote,” McConnall said. “Everyone knows there is zero chance that the sprawling proposal that our Democratic friends have gestured towards could pass either chamber by unanimous consent this week. No chance. The President has already indicated he would not sign it.”
“Everybody in the Senate voted to send historic funding to hospitals and healthcare providers. Everyone supports funding hospitals. I’m in favor of even more funding for hospitals and providers down the line. I’ve been talking to a number of them, as I’m sure our colleagues have, over the past couple weeks.
“There is only one part of the CARES Act that is already at risk of exhausting its funding right now: The Paycheck Protection Program,” MCConnell said. “We are asking small business owners across America to place their faith in us. We are asking them to keep workers on payroll because Congress, the Treasury, and the SBA will have their back. We must not fail them. My colleagues must not treat working Americans as political hostages.”
“He’s just dumping money,” Sen. Jones told MSNBC. “This is a political stunt by Senator McConnell again, just like he did when we were discussing—and in good faith discussions and negotiations—about how to get COVID 3 done. He did the same thing: put something on the floor of the Senate that he knew was not going to pass so he could have a political message.”
Jones said that, “Democrats and Republicans alike want to put more money” into the program; but that Democrats want to do it as part of a negotiated package. “We have got to sit down and talk,” rather than bringing unanimous consent motions to the Senate floor.
To see Sen. Jones’s full comments, click here.
17 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last three weeks. More could join them if the Small Business Administration runs out of money for the loan program. Small business owners who use the loans to make pay roll and payments for overhead have their loans forgiven.
Former Auburn head football Coach Tommy Tuberville and former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, are running for the GOP nomination to oppose Jones in the November election.