WASHINGTON —Negotiations in Congress continue over a massive stimulus package to blunt the economic effects of the coronavirus as Democrats expressed opposition to a plan rolled out by Republicans Thursday that would provide direct cash payments to Americans.
McConnell’s plan includes direct payments of $1,200 to individuals. Married couples would be eligible for up to $2,400 in assistance with an additional $500 for every child. The Kentucky Republican’s pitch would also lend to distressed industries like airlines.
In a statement released Thursday night, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they were reviewing the proposal but “on first reading, it is not at all pro-worker and instead puts corporations way ahead of workers.”
Democrats have expressed opposition to the lending to airlines and other industries, saying such an action benefits business’ bottom lines rather than helping employees.
“One of the reasons industries are so short on cash right now is that they have spent billions buying back their own stocks instead of investing in their workers and saving for a rainy day,” Schumer wrote on Twitter Thursday evening. “That needs to be addressed NOW.”
They also object to being shut out of the original drafting process. McConnell divided up Republican senators into three task forces that devised different parts of the proposed legislation.
In an interview with CNN Thursday night, McConnell said it was a decision made in favor of speed.
“This is the quickest way to get it done. Trust me, this is the quickest way to get it done, exactly the way we’re doing it,” he said.
Calls for resignations for senators who sold stock after coronavirus briefings
Figures on both sides of the aisle called for senators who sold stock before coronavirus sent the market into a plunge to resign. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., an outspoken progressive voice, called the sales “stomach-churning” and called for Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. to resign.
And Fox News host Tucker Carlson slammed Burr on his program, calling on him to explain his actions “immediately” or else he should resign and wait for prosecution for insider trading.
“There is no greater moral crime than betraying your country in a time of crisis, and that appears to be what happened,” Carlson said.
Both Loeffler and Burr have denied the accusations. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., also sold stocks ahead of the market volatility.