As Senate Republicans headed home for the weekend without extending unemployment insurance benefits or approving other economic relief programs that could help millions of Americans weather the ongoing financial catastrophe of the coronavirus pandemic, progressives and congressional Democrats warned that disaster is on the horizon.
"This whole house of cards is going to collapse," Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) warned during a press conference Friday afternoon.
‘This whole house of cards is going to collapse’ — @RepDanKildee explains why Republicans should want to extend unemployment benefits on an economic basis even if they can’t ‘conjure empathy’ for American families pic.twitter.com/7fD9bkCEdQ
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 24, 2020
As Common Dreams reported, the departure of the GOP-controlled Senate for the weekend without a resolution to the benefits questions earned the upper chamber's leadership a harsh rebuke in a speech from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who called the decision by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to recess until Monday unacceptable.
"The lapse that is being forced on this country right now is because Senate Republicans would not step up," said Wyden. "The lapse is going to lead to evictions, it's going to lead to hunger, it's going to lead to desperation for millions of Americans."
House Democrats took to Twitter to decry their Senate GOP colleagues for abdicating their responsibility to the American people, noting that Republicans found time to vote for a mammoth $740 billion Pentagon budget but failed to approve anything to meet the needs of struggling workers and families.
"Senate Republicans have left Washington without passing the HEROES Act, without proposing their own Covid relief package, and without extending enhanced unemployment benefits for millions," tweeted Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "But they were able to pass a $740 billion defense budget with no trouble."
McConnell adjourned the Senate for the week without addressing this crucial issue of extending unemployment insurance.
They had time to pass the inflated Pentagon budget but could not bother to address the needs of everyday people laid off due to coronavirus. https://t.co/VLjIi8JMFV
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— Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (@RepBonnie) July 24, 2020
Another 1.4 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance. The House extended relief to those who have lost their jobs when it passed the #HeroesAct two months ago. The Senate GOP must stop stalling and pass our legislation. https://t.co/2FxUs6FMGL
— Rep. Frank Pallone (@FrankPallone) July 24, 2020
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) echoed those concerns and pointed out that the Senate's departure ensures the benefit will run out after next week's claims.
"The cliff is here and Americans are suffering," said Chu.
Progressive groups like Indivisible are urging members to pressure senators to have a vote on the HEROES Act, which Democrats in the House passed in May, as soon as possible.
The Heroes Act will save countless lives & ensure working families are able to weather this recession, but Senate Republicans are refusing to act. That’s why we need you to call your Senators and demand that they pass the Heroes Act immediately. https://t.co/kDWnXLIsvc
— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam) July 24, 2020
Filmmaker Michael Moore cautioned lawmakers not to let the unemployment benefits lapse lest the country tip into a total economic mess.
"The magnitude of suffering this is about to cause is so immense," said Moore, "they have no idea of how much shit is gonna hit the fan."