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'Time Is Running Out': MoveOn Demands Congress Stay in Session as McConnell Balks at Swift Next Step on Relief

"We are in a national health and economic emergency and we need Congress to start acting like it."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol Oct. 6, 2018 in Washington, D.C.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol Oct. 6, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Progressive group MoveOn called on Congress Tuesday night to use remote voting to stay in session to work on solutions to the economic and healthcare damage of the coronavirus crisis even as Senate Republicans indicated they were disinclined to move swiftly on another package of relief legislation. 

"We are in a national health and economic emergency and we need Congress to start acting like it," MoveOn executive director Rahna Epting said in a statement.

Legislation passed Tuesday in the Senate intended to act as a supplemental funding bill for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—referred to as Phase 3.5 of coronavirus relief—was roundly seen by the left as an example of Democratic capitulation to Republican demands and insufficient to meet the growing economic damage of the pandemic. 

"Congress should stay in session this week, next week, and every week until this crisis ends," said Epting. "It should pass legislation that will provide direct economic relief to people, not corporations. Pass legislation to protect essential workers. Pass legislation to save the Post Office. Pass legislation to save our elections. And ensure all Americans have access to health care and relief."

"Time is running out," Epting added. "And to date, the solutions have been far too small."

As Common Dreams reported, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities president Robert Greenstein said the bill "falls short even as an interim measure, failing to deliver crucial state and local fiscal relief and food assistance."

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday after the Senate passed the bill indicated that any future relief legislation would proceed "cautiously" and that lawmakers would have to prioritize the national debt—a concern that was notably absent from earlier phases of relief primarily targeted at benefitting the rich and large corporations.

"My view is: We just added another $500 billion to the national debt," McConnell told Politico. "Let's see how things are working. We need to weigh our obligations vs. [states and cities], since they have taxing authorities as well, and how to divide up the responsibility."

"So we're not going to move on another bill related to this subject until we all get back here," he added.

McConnell's endorsement of a delay in Phase 4 was seen by Sawyer Hackett, communications director for former Housing and Urban Development head Julián Castro, as a major indicator the GOP will stall any package and use leverage to deny assistance to those who need it most. Hackett said that House Democrats therefore need to weigh whether or not passing the current legislation in its current form is a good idea.

"This is McConnell signaling that all the priorities Dems are holding for Phase 4 aren't going to be a priority," tweeted Hackett. "House Dems better think twice before rushing this package."

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