Sens. Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer demanded to know how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can remain committed to passing no additional coronavirus relief for working families after the Congressional Budget Office on Monday projected huge losses for the U.S. economy over the next decade as a result of the pandemic.
"The Senate must act with a fierce sense of urgency to make sure that everyone in America has the income they need to feed their families and put a roof over their heads."
—Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
The CBO released a new projection for 2020's nominal GDP in the second quarter, comparing it to the projection it made in January, before the pandemic.
"In the May 2020 report, CBO projected that the level of nominal GDP in the second quarter of 2020 would be $790 billion (or 14.2 percent) lower than the agency had previously forecast in January 2020," the nonpartisan agency wrote. "As a result of those differences, CBO projects that over the 2020–2030 period, cumulative nominal output will be $15.7 trillion less than what the agency projected in January."
Sanders repeated the number on Twitter.
"Sixteen trillion, with a 'T,'" tweeted the Vermont independent senator. "That's the estimated long-term economic harm caused by this pandemic."
$16,000,000,000,000. Sixteen trillion, with a "t."— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 1, 2020
That's the estimated long-term economic harm caused by this pandemic.@SenSchumer and I have a simple question: Why the hell won't Senator McConnell act like this is a crisis and pass emergency relief NOW? pic.twitter.com/FA5W642ihz
"In order to avoid the risk of another Great Depression, the Senate must act with a fierce sense of urgency to make sure that everyone in America has the income they need to feed their families and put a roof over their heads," Sanders and Schumer said in a joint statement.
The projected fallout from the crisis comes as at least 40 million Americans have filed unemployment claims since mid-March, nearly one in five households with children have reported food insecurity during the pandemic, and about a quarter of respondents in a recent Census poll said they were struggling to pay their rent or mortgage.
The only assistance most Americans have been able to access since the crisis began is a one-time $1,200 direct payment, which Republicans are reluctant to repeat, and $600 per week on top of regular unemployment benefits, which the GOP doesn't want to extend after July.
McConnell derided the Democratic-led House's recently-passed HEROES Act as a "liberal wish list" and said Monday that Republicans and the White House are drafting a new package which, he vowed, will be the last Covid-19 relief any Americans get. A key component of the bill will be protection from legal liability for companies if their employees contract Covid-19 after returning to work.
"How can Senator McConnell look at these catastrophic economic numbers and believe there is no 'urgency' to protect America's working families?" said Sanders and Schumer. "The American people cannot afford to wait another month for the Senate to pass legislation. They need our help now.”