Lawmakers will soon be asked to vote on one of the largest rescue packages in American history – $900 billion in relief – coupled with $1.4 trillion in federal spending, with virtually no time to read and digest the details.
Senators in both parties aren’t happy with the process where the top four congressional leaders cut a deal and let staff from relevant congressional committees iron out the legislative language with leadership aides.
“It’s terrible,” said Sen. Mike Braun, a Republican of Indiana. “You wouldn’t have that kind of format in anything. It means we are putting all of that responsibility in a few.”
The process will amount to this: The bill will soon be introduced, it will get processed by the House Rules Committee and then it will move to the House floor before final action in the Senate. There will be no ability to amend the legislation, and lawmakers will be left to a take-it-or-leave-it proposition with the government on the brink of another shutdown at midnight Monday.
“None of that is any good,” Braun said.
Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, told CNN:
“It’s a mockery of legislation.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, was frustrated at how the negotiators agreed to jobless benefits of $300 per week to just 11 weeks – when he and other senators from both parties agreed to a proposal that included 16 weeks of the enhanced benefits. He will have no ability to amend the legislation once the Senate considers it.
“It’s awful,” Manchin said. Asked who he blamed, Manchin said: “I blame all of us for allowing all of this to happen.”