Politics

McConnell Adjourns Senate Without Passing COVID-19 Relief After Justice Barrett Confirmed

The Senate’s adjournment effectively halts continued coronavirus relief negotiations, as millions of Americans remain unemployed.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves the Senate Republican Policy luncheon in Hart Building on Tuesday, October 20, 2020. | Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves the Senate Republican Policy luncheon in Hart Building on Tuesday, October 20, 2020. | Getty Images

Americans woke up Tuesday to a conservative 6-3 Supreme Court that epitomizes minority rule, one week left of voting in one of the most unconventional and polarizing elections in modern history, and zero imminent prospects of another round of economic relief during a pandemic that has killed more than 225,000 people in the U.S.

Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), known for his relentless obstructionism, motioned to adjourn the Senate on Monday night until November 9, following the rushed confirmation of SCOTUS Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

The Senate’s adjournment effectively halts continued coronavirus relief negotiations, as millions of Americans remain unemployed and the results of key toss-up races could reshape the state of discussions. The move comes after negotiations between the two major parties remained turbulent and largely stalled in recent weeks, as Democrats consistently opposed rushing Barrett’s confirmation process.

Americans last received a round of coronavirus relief through the CARES Act this spring, which included the provision of aid for small businesses and $1,200 payments to individuals. 

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) met with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Monday afternoon for nearly an hour, Pelosi’s spokesperson Drew Hammill said.

“It is clear that our progress depends on Leader McConnell agreeing to bipartisan, comprehensive legislation to crush the virus, honor our heroes – our essential workers – and put money in the pockets of the American people,” Hammill wrote.
Speaker Pelosi has spent much of the last few months meeting with Mnuchin and trading offers in order to reach a compromise. The various negotiators initially made minimal progress; McConnell said he won’t pass a plan over $2 trillion, even though the White House indicated that it could approve spending that much. 

And when Mnuchin and the White House made a proposal that falls below McConnell’s supposed threshold, Senate Republicans objected.

Earlier this month, President Trump took to Twitter to call off the stimulus bill talks “until I win” the 2020 election, then shortly after appeared to reverse course. The President then tweeted to “go big or go home” on a stimulus bill, which McConnell reportedly opposed. 

McConnell, who has abjectly rejected any governmental norms in his time as Senate majority leader, remained adamant in recent weeks that he wanted to prioritize Barrett’s confirmation above all other potential congressional priorities—even relief to struggling Americans already passed by the House. 

Over the weekend, he appeared to acknowledge that the GOP is on track to lose in current and upcoming elections — and yet laid bare his primary intention to pilfer American voters of a voice in shaping the increasingly politicized and partisan Supreme Court.

“A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone sooner or later by the next election,” McConnell said Sunday night on the Senate floor. “They won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”

The Senate approved federal appellate judge Barrett in a 52-48 vote along party lines Monday night. She is the first justice confirmed with support from just one party since 1869, according to The National Journal.

All Republicans except for Sen. Susan Collins of Maine voted to confirm Barrett, and all Democrats voted against it.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) gave a speech blasting the process before the final vote Monday.

Barrett, who was sworn in Monday after the Senate vote by Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, is expected to be a potentially pivotal vote on the Supreme Court case regarding the Affordable Care Act, which is set for a Nov. 10 hearing. Reproductive rights advocates are also concerned about Barrett helping to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Versha Sharma contributed to this report.