- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Tuesday called the Republican proposal for the fifth round of COVID-19 relief legislation “unserious,” accusing the GOP of favoring corporations over families facing eviction and unable to feed children.

His comments come after Senate Republicans released a series of proposals Monday afternoon. The GOP bill would cut unemployment benefits, as many have said the $600 a week is too high and motivates people to avoid returning to work. It also provides liability protection to schools, health care workers and businesses against lawsuits related to COVID-19, though actions against gross negligence and intentional bad actors would be permitted.

But the New York Democrat said the Senate Republicans are so divided on their own proposals, they did not present a single bill, instead putting out several different pieces of legislation. Mr. Schumer noted two GOP chairman have said about half of the Republican caucus is not on board with another trillion-dollar relief package.

Republicans need a number of Democrats to sign onto any bill in order to pass it out of the chamber, but the two parties appear very far apart. Mr. Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, are set to meet with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Tuesday evening to continue negotiating.

The Democratic leader blasted the GOP for not including any funding for mail-in ballots in the legislation, saying voters should be able to cast ballots safely in November during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They can’t agree on one bill. They can’t get 51 votes for anything that is comprehensive,” Mr. Schumer said.

He accused the GOP of sneaking $2 billion into the bill for a new FBI building that would be close to the Trump Hotel in D.C., benefiting the president. He also said there would be tax breaks for “free martini lunches, but it doesn’t provide a dime in food assistance for hungry kids.”

He criticized the GOP’s liability protection against litigation, saying it shields corporations for five years if they treat their workers and employees in a negligent way, not keeping them safe during the pandemic — but didn’t provide Americans protections from evictions and foreclosures.

Lastly, Mr. Schumer shamed Republicans for attempting to cut unemployment benefits from $600 a week to $200 a week.

“People can’t feed their kids, people are losing their homes … small businesses are going under. Republican response, ‘let them eat cake,’” Mr. Schumer said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, defended the GOP’s HEALS Act, noting it focuses on health care, jobs, and getting children back to school — as well as liability protection.

He said it was “unserious” for Democrats to say Republicans aren’t willing to provide federal funding to aid Americans when the GOP has proposed thousands in direct payments to families, money for schools to prepare to welcome children back in the fall, more funding for small businesses, as well as tax credits and money for personal protective equipment.

He added Republicans aim to protect doctors, nurses, and schools from lawsuits and also hope to fuel the production of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics with their bill.

“Washington finger-pointing will not add one cent to anyone’s unemployment check,” Mr. McConnell said. “Democrats face a simple choice. They can come to the table, work with Republicans, and engage seriously to make law for the American people. Or they can stay on the sidelines, point fingers, and let another rescue package go the same way as the police reform bill they killed in June.”

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