IT HAS been slightly more than four months since Congress and President Trump met what was still an incipient coronavirus pandemic with $2.7 trillion worth of economic and health-care support. Passage of the Cares Act in late March, by overwhelming consensus of what is usually a bitterly polarized and divided legislature, represented hopeful evidence that American democracy could still function when it really had to.

At least that was our evaluation then; recent events in Washington, though, cause us to reconsider. Progress against the pandemic has faded and, in some places, turned into regression. As a result, the economic recovery has stalled, just as we were warned it would. Yet Congress and the president are deadlocked on a new round of urgently needed economic support. The immediate consequences are likely to be worst for those least able to withstand them: the expiration, at midnight Friday, of both a $600-per-week federal supplement to unemployment insurance and a moratorium on evictions.

The main problem is disarray among Republicans, who have wasted precious time debating a counterproposal to the $3 trillion Heroes Act that the Democratic House passed months ago. There are differences within the Senate GOP and between the Senate GOP and Mr. Trump. The latest intra-GOP flap arose when the White House contradicted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) long-standing demand that any bill must include liability protections for businesses and universities that reopen.

This has to stop. The Cares Act was not only a symbolic victory for the political process, it was a substantive one, too. The billions of dollars in aid to households, through additional unemployment insurance or direct payments, coupled with the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, have so far protected vulnerable families from what otherwise would have been catastrophic economic losses. In fact, personal disposable income actually rose in the second quarter of 2020, even as the economy shrank at an annual rate of 32.9 percent. Ideally, Congress would produce a new bill that modified what was inevitably imperfect about the Cares Act and included funds to help state and local governments. Especially urgent within aid to the states would be generous financial support for the November elections. As important as it is to salvage the economy, it might be even more vital to salvage the legitimacy of the vote.

We understand why Democrats may be content to stand back and let Republicans fight among themselves, at least for now. They can plausibly argue that they have already done their part and that there’s no point negotiating until they know who’s really in charge on the other side. Still, there is pressure — economic and political — on the GOP to produce a bill, even if it’s only a short-term extension to unemployment insurance and the eviction moratorium, which the White House now says it wants. As in March, the American people are counting on their elected representatives to address the crisis. The Republicans should finally get serious, and the Democrats should respond in kind.

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