Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks during a news conference with other House Republican leadership in Washington on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks during a news conference with other House Republican leadership in Washington on Tuesday, November 17, 2020. (Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

'What the Hell Are They Doing?' Outrage as GOP Tries to Adjourn House With Millions Going Hungry, Covid Surging

"They're treating this like a game. Leaders don't abandon people in their time of greatest need," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Jake Johnson

With mass layoffs persisting at an unprecedented clip, coronavirus deaths surging, and hunger on the rise nationwide, a group of House Republicans on Thursday attempted to pass a motion to adjourn the chamber in what Democratic lawmakers denounced as an "outrageous" stunt by members of a party that continues to stand in the way of desperately needed economic relief.

Though the motion, introduced by House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), was ultimately defeated by the Democrat-controlled House, the attempt to adjourn was viewed as another telling example of the GOP's refusal to take seriously the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

"The Republican Party's contempt for working people is on full display."
—Rep. Ayanna Pressley

"People are going hungry and they're treating this like a game," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted in response to the motion, which Republicans used to complain about House rules allowing proxy voting to prevent the spread of Covid-19 on Capitol Hill. "Leaders don't abandon people in their time of greatest need."

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) called the GOP ploy "batty" and noted that "Americans are in dire need of food and paychecks."

Over the opposition of the chamber's Republicans, House Democrats in October passed legislation that would send another stimulus check to most Americans, restore the lapsed $600-per-week federal unemployment boost, and provide aid to cash-strapped state and local governments. The Republican-controlled Senate, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), has refused to consider the measure.

"More people died yesterday from Covid-19 than any day since," Swalwell said Thursday. "We have work to do. Yet, the House GOP just motioned to adjourn Congress. What the hell are they doing?"

"Isn't this a procedural stunt you ask? Sure," Swalwell continued. "What makes it outrageous is a single vote now takes well over an hour to occur with Covid-19 restrictions in place. Then the chamber must be sanitized. These are final days of Congress. It's like pulling the fire alarm during a final exam."

Other Democratic members voiced similar outrage over the motion, introduced as U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations soared to a record high and the Labor Department reported that a million Americans filed jobless claims last week, a blaring signal that the economic crisis is nowhere near over.

The House GOP's procedural maneuver came as coronavirus relief negotiations showed signs of life for the first time in weeks, with a possible government shutdown just seven days away and the end of the year rapidly approaching. Failure to approve additional Covid-19 relief before year's end would be disastrous, economists have warned, particularly given that more than 13 million Americans are set to lose unemployment benefits as emergency federal programs expire on December 26.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and President-elect Joe Biden have expressed support for using a $908 billion bipartisan compromise proposal unveiled earlier this week as a framework for talks going forward, while acknowledging that the plan—which lacks direct payments and provides just $300 per week in additional unemployment benefits—is nowhere near sufficient.

"The McConnell Senate enabled the Trump administration's mismanagement of the health crisis and still insists on doing as little as possible to contain the economic fallout."
—Jeremy Funk, Accountable.US

"Of course, we and others will offer improvements, but the need to act is immediate and we believe that with good-faith negotiations we could come to an agreement," Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement Wednesday. "In light of the urgency of meeting the needs of the American people and the hope that the vaccine presents, it's time for Leader McConnell to sit down with Democrats to finally begin a true, bipartisan effort to meet the needs of the country."

McConnell and Pelosi spoke by phone Thursday afternoon for the first time since the presidential election and, according to the Kentucky Republican, had a "good conversation" about coronavirus relief and an end-of-year spending package to avert a government shutdown.

"Compromise is within reach," McConnell said in a floor speech Thursday. "We know where we agree. We can do this."

The Republican leader's remarks came just days after he circulated a relief proposal of his own that was immediately dismissed as a non-starter by many Senate Democrats and progressive critics, who lambasted the plan's sweeping liability shield for corporations and exclusion of additional weekly unemployment benefits.

Jeremy Funk, spokesperson for government watchdog group Accountable.US, slammed McConnell for "shilling for special interests" instead of offering real relief to the tens of millions of Americans struggling to afford basic necessities and possibly facing eviction in the near future.

"The McConnell Senate enabled the Trump administration's mismanagement of the health crisis and still insists on doing as little as possible to contain the economic fallout," said Funk. "McConnell's big idea of giving corporations permission to mistreat workers with impunity during a pandemic and giving more handouts to coal CEOs means absolutely nothing to the millions of families who face hunger and homelessness in the Trump recession."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·


'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·


To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo