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After Installing Barrett, McConnell Adjourns Senate for Recess Sans COVID Relief

The failure to approve additional pandemic relief prior to next week’s election could delay an aid package for months.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill on October 20, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

After installing right-wing judge Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court just days ahead of the November presidential election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell summarily adjourned his chamber for recess late Monday without approving any additional coronavirus relief, effectively signaling that the prospect of an aid package ahead of next week’s contest is dead.

While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are set to continue negotiating the details of a roughly $2 trillion relief package as economic suffering intensifies nationwide, the Republican-controlled Senate’s departure late Monday appeared to confirm that McConnell — who has been one of the primary obstacles to additional stimulus legislation — has no interest in passing a bill before November 3.

When the Senate returns on November 9, nearly a week after the election, its first scheduled vote is on a procedural motion to advance yet another right-wing federal judge.

“Amid an historic public health crisis that has already taken more than 225,000 lives in the U.S. alone, Trump and his Senate allies have gone full speed ahead on confirming their extremist Supreme Court pick while leaving hurting Americans in the dust,” Kyle Herrig, president of government watchdog group Accountable.US, said in a statement late Monday.

“Small business owners, workers, and families are desperate for support — and lawmakers and the president abandoned them in order to focus on jamming through a historically non-transparent and extreme Supreme Court pick,” Herrig continued. “Senators should be ashamed of themselves.”

Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of progressive advocacy group Indivisible, noted that Barrett’s rapid confirmation process “demonstrates that the Republican Senate can move incredibly fast when they think something is important.”

“They just didn’t think Covid relief was important,” Greenberg tweeted.

Depending on the outcome of the November 3 election — from who wins the presidency to which party emerges with control of the Senate — the failure to approve additional coronavirus relief prior to the contest could delay an additional aid package for months, leaving millions of jobless, hungry, and eviction-prone Americans without desperately needed assistance as the coronavirus continues to spread.

“We should be voting on a major Covid-19 stimulus package to protect the working people of this country, who by the tens of millions have lost their jobs,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said before heading to the Senate floor to vote against Barrett’s confirmation. “They’re struggling right now as to whether or not they can pay their rent, whether they can get health insurance, whether they can put food on the table to feed their kids.”

In an appearance on MSNBC Monday night, Pelosi indicated that a deal with the White House on coronavirus relief is far from imminent, pointing to the Trump administration’s refusal to accept Democrats’ demand for a national Covid-19 testing strategy.

As it stands, the bill would provide a $400-per-week federal boost to unemployment insurance, an additional round of stimulus checks to most Americans, and $300 billion in aid to cash-strapped state and local governments.

“We’ve got to crush the virus,” Pelosi told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. “We’ve got to have our children safely in schools. We’ve got to insist that as people are going into poverty, we are asking them for Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, all these things that take people out of poverty. They’re insisting on keeping their big tax cut $150 billion for the wealthiest people in the country.”

“We do not have shared values,” Pelosi added, “but we hope that some pragmatism might set in on them that the public would demand that they crush the virus.”

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