Congresses Stunning Apathy
By. Raimondo Graziano
As of the writing of this piece, Congress has allowed nearly a week to elapse since federal unemployment assistance ended. This has thrown many millions of Americans into a precarious situation in which they are faced with the prospect of economic uncertainty – meaning an inability to pay for bills, rent, and essential expenses for living and caring for ones family. The apathy of Congress directed at the American people is appalling. Putting aside for a moment that the Senate decided toward the end of May to take a nearly two month recess, and is again preparing to do so – both the House & the Senate had more than enough time to come together to work on the details of a short-term measure to address two things, both of which the White House backed – extending unemployment benefits and direct stimulus payments to the American people. While many Republicans were willing to back this, Democrats pushed back arguing for the need for a complete recovery package. The political games being played out in Washington must stop as they are coming at the expense of the American people.
The assertion that two bills whose difference in funding measures nearly two trillion dollars, could be negotiated within a weeks time upon the return of the Senate is not wishful thinking – it is pure political opportunism. While the Democrats attempt to make the Republicans seem like uncaring and detached elites, the Democrats act no better by employing moral and legislative purism through their refusal to even consider a short term bill aimed at only helping the American people. If the Democrats wanted to help the American people, they would take the opportunity to hammer out a deal which addresses the most immediate and impactful needs of the public. The people of this country need direct aid now. While the Republican bill falls far short of what is needed regarding the broad strokes of a proper recovery, a proper negotiation can be had once the needs of the American people are directly addressed – that means money in the pockets of the people now.
It truly baffles the mind that such a moment has been allowed to occur by our elected officials. There was ample time, the House Democrats passed a bill in May regarding recovery. That showed the due diligence of the House’s response to the crisis. That Republicans took nearly two months to propose a counter is a stunning display of governmental negligence. Two months of potential negotiations between the House, the Senate and the White House were lost because of the Senates choice to take a ridiculous and unprecedented recess during the height of a crisis we have experienced in nearly ninety years. Two months, tens of thousands of lives lost, and millions facing eviction and an inability to provide for their family, and thus slowing the economic recovery in the long term all because the Senate took a recess and refused to work with House Democrats on a counter-proposal which could have landed on the Presidents desk.
And here we are. At this unprecedented moment in American history. There will be hell to pay for the inaction of the Senate Republicans in the afterward of the passing of the HEROES Act. Just as there will be hell to pay for the grandstanding of the House Democrats in their refusal to consider a short-term recovery bill. The cavern between the House & Senate proposals is wide and deep, and politically fueled – what’s not is the needs of the American people; cash in hand to survive in the immediate. Make no mistake – there will be hell to pay for the apathy displayed by 116th Congress, perhaps one of the most consequential, morally bankrupt and politically motivated Congresses in the history of our country. The road forward is clear – enough negotiations. Put forward the plan for extended unemployment benefits, direct stimulus payments and cancel all further recesses of Congress until a comprehensive reform and recovery package is brokered by the House and Senate.