Analysis: Congressional Democrats Have No Leverage in Fight Over Coronavirus Relief Bill

News & Politics

As more and more state and local governments issue orders for businesses to close and residents to shelter in place, economic activity — outside of toilet paper hoarding — has ground to a halt. A bipartisan bill with wide support, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, has made its way through Congress. The president has said he’ll sign it as soon as it hits his desk. Republicans and Democrats negotiated it all weekend. It provides financial relief to industries, businesses, and individuals impacted by the coronavirus pandemic while also fortifying hospitals and clinics across the country.

So, of course, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have halted it.

Over at Townhall, Katie Pavlich reports on the liberal Christmas list that Pelosi and Schumer are demanding to move the bill forward:

According to a source close to the process on Capitol Hill, in order to move forward with any kind of relief package, Pelosi and her far-left Democrat caucus will demand the following be included:

-Publication of corporate pay statistics by race and race statistics for all corporate boards

-A bail out on all current debt at the Postal Service

-Required early voting

-Required same day voter registration

-Provisions on official time for union collective bargaining

-Full offset of airline emissions by 2025

-Publication and reporting of greenhouse gas statistics for individual flights

-Retirement plans for community newspaper employees

-Federal $15 minimum wage

-Permanent paid leave

-Study on climate change mitigation efforts

The provisions will apply to the companies and business rescued by bill.

Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) tweeted his disgust:

The Democrats continue not to play their cards right. Just like the botched impeachment, they reveal their rather simplistic playbook: Make Orange Man look bad. Sling the mud. Drag him down.

I wrote last week that the Democrats won’t let this crisis go to waste, and are actively trying to usher in every totalitarian dream they can think of — including the Green New Deal, a bailout of Planned Parenthood, sweeping gun confiscations, limits to the use of private property, and more. Normally, the Democrats far exceed the Republicans in sending messages that tug on heartstrings, outflanking the Republicans to make them look as unsympathetic as possible.

In 2020, however, they seem to have lost their mojo. It’s been quite some time since they offered real solutions, but that’s nothing new. What’s new is watching them try to apply political leverage where they have none.

Whether or not you believe the federal government can and should stop a pandemic while stimulating an economy out of recession, the president and congressional Republicans hold all the cards here. Americans increasingly approve of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. Even Ilhan Omar, Gavin Newsom, and Andrew Cuomo expressed praise for Trump’s response. The bills had wide, bipartisan support. The economy is teetering on the brink of full collapse as businesses are ordered closed across the country. The stock markets have continued to tank. First time jobless claims have spiked, and could lead to high unemployment. Negotiations between Republicans and Democrats produced a bill that included a series of payments to Americans to help cover expenses.

It is in this context that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer decided to play political games. They demanded a laundry list of additions to the bill that had absolutely no relation to stopping the pandemic or providing economic relief to its victims. Schumer caused petty procedural delays and locked out some Republican senators from testifying. The lid blew off on Sunday and Monday as tensions boiled over.

How bad did things get in the Senate?

Probably not far off from the truth.

The growing perception of Democratic leadership is that they’re playing cynical, partisan games to use the crisis to advance a radical agenda. Americans increasingly see that they’ll use any trick in the book to pass things they know can’t pass under normal circumstances.

Just like the impeachment process, Democratic leadership has miscalculated. They thought this ploy would lead to greater condemnation of the president. It goes to show that, four years in, they still have no idea how to defeat him.

In the context of the CARES Act, there are three tiers of beliefs Democrats hold. The likelihood that the average Democrat on the street believes one or the other depends on how high up in the Democratic Party food chain they go.

The first belief: Democratic voters honestly believe that messing with our election laws, bailing out Planned Parenthood, granting unions expansive new collective bargaining rights, and implementing the Green New Deal would magically make the virus go away and cure the economy.

The second belief: Dems in leadership got stuck in their own bubble and believed that the majority of the American people supported them, and conversely didn’t like Donald Trump.

The third belief: Upper management knew that the only way to take down President Trump involved mud-slinging, posturing, and causing doubt in his base supporters, hoping to suppress turnout in November. That, by the way, has always been the goal of negative campaigning — suppressing turnout across the board.

“Never let a good crisis go to waste” doesn’t just describe the chance to take advantage to pass your radical agenda. Rahm Emanuel’s aphorism applies chiefly to the opportunity to take out a political opponent. As cynical as it seems, coronavirus, like impeachment, seemed like a golden opportunity to do just that.

The problem here for the Democrats is that the leverage they assumed they had never materialized. The American people will remember in November.

Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available now at Jeff hosts a podcast at You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff.

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