The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion It has suddenly dawned on Senate Republicans: They’re doomed

Then-Senate candidate Martha McSally (R) speaks during a rally with President Trump in Mesa, Ariz., in October 2018. McSally was named a U.S. senator. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

There is no deal yet between the White House and House Democrats on the stimulus bill, the Heroes Act, which the House passed more than two months ago. The Senate Republicans’ bill, finally rolled out last week, was so preposterously insufficient even President Trump called it “semi-irrelevant.”

Senate Republicans are so irrelevant they are not even participating in talks between the president’s representatives — White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). That’s right: The Democratic minority leader is relevant; the Republicans are not.

That is because they have allowed the anti-government, anti-science Trump sycophants to disclaim any interest in the bill, thereby handing the reins to Democrats. Only recently does it seem to have dawned on Republican incumbents on the ballot three months from now that this is not a good place to be. CNN reports: “Republican senators are increasingly concerned over the state of stimulus negotiations on Capitol Hill. They’re frustrated over how long it is taking to reach an agreement and fearful that a deal may not come together at all as the country remains in crisis.”

Gosh, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) must be very concerned. She offers, “I don’t want to see first responders . . . as well as sanitation crews and public works employs laid off and losing their jobs plus disrupting essential services.” If only the senator were part of some body that could have addressed this months ago. If only she could have prevailed upon Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to act promptly after the House passed its bill. On Wednesday she evidenced a desire not to follow her colleagues down the road to political oblivion. CNBC reports:

Three Republican senators, two of whom face tough elections this fall, released a bill Wednesday that offers more generous unemployment insurance than their party’s existing coronavirus aid plan would.
The proposal from Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Martha McSally of Arizona would give states the choice of paying recipients either $400 or $500 per week in August, on top of what they would normally receive from the state. In September, the benefit would drop to $400 a week in every state.

Why they should reduce benefits at all during a time of massive unemployment when jobs simply are not available (as the Federal Reserve chief has reiterated) is not clear; what is clear from polling is that Collins and Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) are in deep trouble and are staring at defeat in a few months.

Without federal intervention, experts warn of an unprecedented wave of evictions in the coming months, more devastating than the 2008 foreclosure crisis. (Video: The Washington Post)

If only they had some power in February to remove the unfit and corrupt president from office, instead of leaving him there to purge witnesses from his administration, seek vengeance on foes, force out inspectors general and botch the response to the coronavirus. If only McSally, whose state is now one of the worst hit by the novel coronavirus after an irresponsible and premature reopening, could have rebuffed Trump instead of clinging to him (The Daily Beast describes her as “unwavering in her public support since her appointment, redirecting frustration with the president’s coronavirus response to condemn China’s role in the pandemic”). If only she could have taken a strong stance to support her states’ interests. (“McSally’s refusal to publicly take a side on numerous issues of major interest to voters in the state—her noncommittal response to the Supreme Court’s decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program . . . being a representative example—has added to the perception that she cares more about politics than policy,” the Daily Beast reports.)

Let me suggest that Senate Republicans, angst-ridden over the failure to conclude a deal, should have taken action when Trump put his reelection above national security concerns; when he refused to hold Russia accountable for bounties on our troops; when he aired false, quack theories and contradicted expert advice; when he insisted on reopening states while the virus still raged; and when he held a rally endangering thousands of Americans. They could have removed him — rebuked him even or, at the very least, declared they would not vote for him in November — for any number of corrupt and malicious actions. Instead, they bet their careers and mortgaged their conscience to their political party.

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