The Post reports: “Senate Republicans killed President Trump’s payroll tax cut proposal on Thursday but failed to reach agreement with the White House on a broader coronavirus relief bill.” That, in turn, sent lawmakers into “a frantic scramble with competing paths forward . . . and the entire effort appeared to teeter chaotically on the brink of failure.” They have had more than two months to consider a plan following the House’s swift passage of the Heroes Act. They have heard from Trump-appointed Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome H. Powell, who urged the Senate to put together a substantial relief package. It still doesn’t have its act together. (Can you imagine if they invalidated the Affordable Care Act and were charged with finding a replacement?)
At a joint news conference on Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could only gape in amazement at Republicans’ ineptitude. “Now that Senate Republicans have finally woken up to the calamity in our country, they have been so divided, so disorganized, so unprepared that they have struggled to even draft a partisan proposal within their own conference,” Schumer said. “They can’t come together. Even after all this time, it appears the Republican legislative response to [covid-19] is un-unified, unserious, unsatisfactory.” He added, “The Republican disarray and dithering has potentially serious deadly consequences for tens of millions of Americans. 1.4 million Americans applied for unemployment last week, the first time the number rose since March.”
Pelosi, arguably the most competent legislator of the last 20 years, barely controlled her disdain for Republicans’ utter failure. She declared: “They don’t believe in science. They don’t believe in governance. . . . It is another example of their dereliction of duty.” Asked whether she had gotten a phone call or a piece of paper from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), she tersely replied, “No.”
Understand that this is not a matter of coming up with a proposal acceptable to Democrats. Republicans do not even know what they want. More than six months into the crisis, the slothful Senate seems ready to leave for the weekend. Perhaps the White House and Pelosi should strike a deal, daring the Senate to vote it down with no alternative in place. They are using up space and time, acting as an impediment to action. If they cannot perform their jobs, they should turn over the reins to Democrats.
The second defining feature of today’s Republicans is their grotesque disrespect for their fellow Americans, with a deep strain of misogyny. We have become so accustomed to Trump’s ugliness that we sometimes ignore outbursts from other Republicans. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was not about to let that happen on Thursday.
She took to the floor to rebut Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) for his non-apology over his verbal assault on her earlier in the week, during which he reportedly called Ocasio-Cortez a “f---ing b---h.” (Yoho has denied using the slur.) Had Yoho made an equivalent statement concerning an African American male colleague, leadership would have been under pressure to condemn him, strip him of privileges (as was the case in handling remarks made by Rep. Steve King of Iowa) or even boot him from the House. With a woman as the victim, they were prepared to do exactly nothing.
Ocasio-Cortez elegantly skewered not only Yoho but the men who silently stand by after such displays. “This issue is not about one incident. It is cultural,” she said. “It is a culture of . . . impunity, of accepting of violence and violent language against women, and an entire structure of power that supports that.” She pointed to Trump as well, recalling his comment that four congresswomen of color (including herself) — each of them U.S. citizens — should “go back” to where they came from. She added: "Having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man. And when a decent man messes up, as we all are bound to do, he tries his best and does apologize.”
Instead, today’s Republican Party rewards displays of insensitivity, disrespect, meanness and bigotry as a sign one will not be contained by “elites” or “political correctness.” It tolerates support for the Confederate flag and white nationalism. It ignores protesters screaming in the faces of health-care workers to protest one’s right to go mask-less, thereby endangering others. The culture of bullying and the disdain for others is not an incidental part of the GOP; it is central to its identity.
A party that disdains government should not run for office. A party that celebrates rudeness, incivility, meanness and bigotry should be shunned. Rehabilitation for the GOP? It’s impossible to imagine, given its cast of characters.