The U.S. Senate is set to reconvene Tuesday. Gov. Phil Murphy implored it to get back to work — and get back to task of delivering aid to states.
Murphy, speaking at his COVID-19 briefing Friday, hours before the Labor Day Weekend began, directed his ire at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“Our states need help — or our recovery as a nation will be even more stalled, and when that happens, that’s on you,” Murphy said. “Sit down with (House) Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and (Minority Leader) Sen. (Chuck) Schumer and get this done.”
That potential conversation — and negotiation — may not meet Murphy’s wants.
Before the Senate took its annual August break, House Democrats had proposed a $3.4 trillion stimulus plan to help Americans recover from the virus. McConnell and other Republicans opposed this plan for including proposals that were unrelated to COVID-19.
In a recent interview with PBS, Senate GOP Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said he expects McConnell to reveal a “skinnier” COVID-19 relief plan sooner rather than later.
“We have a focused, targeted solution that we hope that the House would pass and the House would agree to,” Barrasso said. “(The legislation is) focused on getting people back to work, getting kids back to school.”
The new bill is estimated to be somewhere between $500 billion and $700 billion, which is a noteworthy drop from the Democrats’ most recent, lowered request of $2.2 trillion.
Murphy believes governors from across the country have held up their end of the bargain when it comes to protecting their states from COVID-19. Now, it’s up to Congress.
“My fellow governors and I — both Republicans and Democrats — have had to take painful and unprecedented actions to save lives and protect public health,” Murphy said. “We put so much on the line, and it has cost our states dearly. Washington must step up to meet this challenge. Washington must step up to help us pull through.”
McConnell, at a recent event at Logan Memorial Hospital in Russellville, Kentucky, said he is pessimistic that the White House and Congress would be able to agree upon another relief package.
“I don’t know if there will be another package in the next few weeks or not,” McConnell said. “We’re giving it our best. … The cooperative spirit we had in March and April has dissipated as we’ve moved closer and closer to the election.”
Murphy continued to chastise McConnell on Friday, saying Congress is focused too much on trying to achieve bipartisan support, and not on stopping the virus.
“Sen. McConnell, this is not about politics,” Murphy said. “It’s about the survival of the programs that millions of Americans, including in your home state of Kentucky, are relying upon for their survival.”