Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna are among the progressives condemning Senate Republicans for offering aid and comfort to President Donald Trump's baseless claims of election fraud while coronavirus infection and hospitalization rates surge and wreak havoc in communities nationwide.
"Instead of fighting to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed over 242,000 Americans, the Trump administration is spending its final days in office fighting a bogus voter 'fraud' problem that does not exist," said Sanders on Thursday evening on social media. "Pathetic. The Biden-Harris Administration cannot come soon enough."
The senator repeated his demand for a package which includes far-reaching aid for Americans who are "facing economic devastation."
The pandemic is surging, and tens of millions of Americans are facing economic devastation. The Senate needs to pass a real stimulus package NOW that provides $2,000 a month to the working class, $600 a week to the unemployed and expands Medicare to all.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 13, 2020
"Cases are at an all time high. Millions of families are agonizing over what to do for the holidays, how they’re going to keep paying rent, or whether their business will survive the winter," tweeted Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). "We need a Covid relief deal now."
More than 163,000 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in the U.S. on Thursday, yet when asked about the Republican Party's plans to pass legislation offering relief to people and small businesses, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters that he's interested only in a package of around $500 billion to target "residual problems" from the pandemic.
Despite McConnell's suggestion that the pandemic and the corresponding economic crisis are over, CNBC reported last month that as many as 35 million Americans could soon face eviction or have trouble paying their rent or mortgage payments. Hospitals in states including North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Texas are reporting that they are at or nearing capacity, and with one of the country's most severe outbreaks, North Dakota officials reported Wednesday that one in every 83 residents tested positive in the last week.
Amid the crisis, Trump, his administration officials, and congressional Republicans have embarked on an effort to call the election results into question, despite the fact that election and cybersecurity officials have said numerous times in the past week that Biden legitimately won both the popular vote and more than the 270 electoral votes needed to take over the federal government—with a coalition of federal, state, and local officials on Thursday saying the 2020 election was "the most secure in American history."
Multiple legal experts have said the lawsuits that Trump has filed in states including Pennsylvania and Arizona—where Biden was officially projected to be the winner on Friday—are meritless, but officials including McConnell, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have said in recent days that the election has not yet been decided.
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Other progressives echoed Sanders' and Khanna's disgust over the Republican Party's abandonment of the American people in the interest of enabling the president, whose false claims about "illegal votes" cast in the election led several historians to warn this week that Trump could soon incite violence by his supporters.
Leave it to the GOP to spend more time fighting nonexistent voter fraud than containing a virus that's killed 242,000 Americans and counting.
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) November 12, 2020
This is much like a worse version of 2008. Back then the economy was collapsing but the president couldn't be bothered to do anything. Now we have the pandemic exploding, the economic stalling, and the president too busy crying over his election defeat.
— Dean Baker (@DeanBaker13) November 13, 2020
Imagine if any fraction of this GOP energy to find phantom voter fraud had gone instead to preventing the spread of COVID.
— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) November 12, 2020
In a meeting this week, Biden and Democratic congressional leaders agreed that a coronavirus relief package should include expanded unemployment benefits and robust help for local and state governments, which are not included in the Republicans' plan.
"The McConnell approach is so disproportionate to the urgency of the crisis," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told The Hill on Thursday. "We're still not seeing any indication that the Republican leadership is really looking at anything that is really in the ballpark."
Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, noted that despite Republican claims that the crisis is in the past, more than 700,000 Americans filed jobless claims last week.
"Every day without a new Covid relief bill," said Ifill, "is an outrage beyond words."