Mitch McConnell’s Senate Does Not Care About Working People

Mitch McConnell has turned the Senate into a body that cares only about the wealthy and powerful.

Working people need real COVID-19 relief, not a Supreme Court power grab. The Senate should be focusing on passing the HEROES Act, which has America’s Five Economic Essentials at its core. It includes an emergency workplace infectious disease standard; gives aid for state and local governments, public schools, the U.S. Postal Service, and pension relief; keeps workers on payrolls to avoid mass layoffs; extends unemployment insurance; provides more direct payments to working people; extends health care coverage; and provides housing and food benefits.

The economic numbers tell the real story of what’s happening, and we must not be distracted by Trump’s antics.

This week, another 1.5 million people applied for unemployment insurance (UI), many workers have exhausted their state’s regular unemployment benefits and still McConnell’s Senate refuses to act to provide relief. Last week was the 27th straight week UI claims were far greater than the worst week of the Great Recession. Most states provide 26 weeks of regular benefits. That means last week was also the first week many workers had exhausted their regular state unemployment insurance.

This job crisis has also led to an estimated 12 million workers and our family members losing employer-provided health insurance due to COVID-19. And right now, an astounding 28.4 million workers are either on unemployment benefits, have been approved and are waiting for benefits or have applied recently and are waiting to get approved.

Mitch McConnell and his allies allowed the across-the-board $600 increase in weekly UI benefits to expire at the end of July. That means people on UI are now forced to get by on around 40% of their pre-virus earnings.

The job market is not miraculously rebounding. In fact, we are still 11.5 million jobs below where we were before the virus hit. While Mitch McConnell and his allies stall on COVID-19 relief, they also conveniently are forgetting what they said about a presidential election-year Supreme Court nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” (February 2016)

“The American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people decide. The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next president nominates, whoever that might be.” (February 2016)

“We think the important principle in the middle of this presidential election, which is raging, is that American people need to weigh in and decide who's going to make this decision.” (March 2016)

Sen. Joni Ernst

“Before filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court, we need to hear the voices of the American people.” (2016)

“We will see what the people say this fall, and our next president, regardless of party, will be making that nomination.” (February 2016)

Sen. Lindsey Graham

“I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination." (March 2016)

“If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait to the next election.” (2018)

Sen. Cory Gardner

“I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.” (February 2016)

Sen. Thom Tillis

“Vice President Biden’s remarks may have been voiced in 1992, but they are entirely applicable to 2016. The campaign is already under way. It is essential to the institution of the Senate and to the very health of our republic to not launch our nation into a partisan, divisive confirmation battle during the very same time the American people are casting their ballots to elect our next president.” (February 2016)

Sen. John Cornyn

“I believe we should listen to the voices of the American people and allow them to cast their vote and raise their voice and determine who will make that selection.” (March 2016)

Sen. David Perdue

“The very balance of our nation’s highest court is in serious jeopardy. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will do everything in my power to encourage the president and Senate leadership not to start this process until we hear from the American people.” (February 2016)

This sheer hypocrisy and lack of honor have rendered the current Senate majority illegitimate, and we need to sweep them out in this election.