There is a wedge driving a split in the Republican Party this week, and it’s the coronavirus relief bill. Congressional leadership and the White House have changed their stance numerous times since Tuesday, scrambling to solidify their version of a much-needed relief bill. During a planning lunch, Senator Ted Cruz could be overheard asking “What in the hell are we doing?”
Some Congressional Republicans have expressed distaste with a payroll tax cut that the president is adamant will boost the economy. Others have pleaded with the White House to include more money for COVID testing and tracing efforts. Yet others still have betrayed exasperation with the entire situation, wincing at how high the spending bill will be.
Republican policies, in the abstract, seek to keep government intervention and spending very low. Bailouts for businesses are a rare exception, as are tax cuts for the very wealthy. However, as a general rule, Republicans are loath to spend money on public programs. As such, the coronavirus pandemic has caught them entirely flat-footed.
While millions of Americans are out of work, Republicans can’t even agree on whether to extend unemployment benefits through July. Many Congressional Republicans are now aware that their slim majority in the Senate is in danger. A miscalculation in their spending legislation could lead to a blowout in November.
The White House went into talks with Congressional Republicans without a concrete list of policy proposals. In truth, it seems the White House has had no plan from the outset of the pandemic. This has reflected in public polling, with the majority of Americans disapproving of President Trump’s job. Congressional Republicans are now feeling the effects of this lack of preparedness.
Some demands that the White House tried to solidify early were discarded hours later. The party, unable to come to an agreement on any policy proposals, seems to be in disarray. Now, it seems likely that the process will go past July. This means that millions of Americans who have been relying on emergency unemployment benefits will be cast off, suddenly.
Congressional Democrats have not hesitated to point to Republicans’ inability to pass legislation addressing the health challenges. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stated, “Republicans are in complete disarray. Totally incompetent. Totally in disarray,” he continued. Driving the point home, he added “Totally at war with one another.”
Meanwhile, President Trump’s slumping approval ratings could spell disaster for the Republican Senate majority come November. Many political handicappers are now predicting a sweeping blue wave in the election.