In the talks about the largest bailout package in the United States: hectic negotiations, party political tensions and a Trump tweet

Mar 28, 2020 10:50 PM ET

But that didn’t solve the problem, and when Pelosi and McConnell finally met face-to-face the following Sunday at a meeting of all the leaders he had called to outline his bill, Pelosi appeared with a “laundry list” of who what constituted the Senate majority leader and other Republicans who are seen as liberal demands that have nothing to do with the crisis.

From Schumer and Pelosi’s perspective, McConnell’s draft law was helping businesses, but not much for the average American. There was no employee protection for the company’s rescue funds. No state and local bailout fund. Not enough hospital spending.

The two sides went their separate ways after the meeting. Senate Democrats blocked a procedural vote and angered the Republicans. Pelosi said she would write her own bill and give the Democrats something to rally.

However, with stock market tanking and the increase in the death toll in the U.S., congressional leaders and Trump administration representatives managed to compromise on compromises such as more generous unemployment insurance and corporate aid restrictions that satisfied both parties.

And on Friday, the house unanimously approved the measure, a $ 2.2 trillion emergency aid package, the most expensive in US history, forged under the currently deteriorating economic conditions, fear of a pandemic.

The first move the Congress requested from the White House was on February 24, a comparatively meager $ 1.8 billion in new spending to address growing virus health concerns. Now – just a month later – Congress has sent Trump a package that is more than 1,000 times larger, underlining the hectic confusion of policymakers trying to stop the economic disaster.

Until the negotiators made the deal, there were many problems.

When White House legislature director Schumer, Mnuchin, and Eric Ueland met on Monday evening to agree on the $ 2.2 trillion economic bailout package, thousands of phones began to buzz across Washington .

The president had tweeted.

“The Republicans had a deal until Nancy Pelosi drove into town from her long vacation. The Democrats want the virus to win? ” Trump tweeted. “They ask about things that have nothing to do with our great workers or companies. They want Open Borders & Green New Deal. Republicans shouldn’t agree! “

Schumer, who had negotiated with the administration for days, believed that the tweet did not reflect the reality of the progress made. After Schumer was informed by his employees about the 279-character letter, he sent an urgent message over a loudspeaker on Mnuchin’s phone: “For the good of the country,” said Schumer, according to an official familiar with the call, to Trump: “You should don’t attack anyone. “

After Trump hung up, Schumer quipped others in the room: “He must have been watching TV.”

Both sides requested credit for the invoice. Senior Republicans portrayed legislation as a largely bipartisan, yet right-wing package, and Democrats argued that they had withdrawn the measure from a measure that put pressure on workers and lacked accountability to businesses.

“The main advantage we had is that this is a crisis. And the small government’s Republican philosophy of letting the private sector do everything possible to downsize the government just doesn’t work, ”Schumer said in an interview with the Washington Post. “So of course we had the upper hand.”

McConnell had an opportunity to maintain the power of his republican majority after the Senate largely faded out in the previous bill of $ 100 billion for coronaviruses in an emergency. McConnell and officials waived concerns about the deficit and were encouraged by a president who asked behind-the-scenes negotiators to “be brave, brave, and great.”

This second installment of expenses, which closed Congress on March 18, was largely a product between Mnuchin and Pelosi and was loathed by several Senate Republicans for paid family vacation provisions. But McConnell, realizing that the money had to run out immediately, urged its members to essentially swallow the bill and look at the next, much more expansionary economic package that was putting pressure on lawmakers.

McConnell told Pelosi about this package when he called on March 17 that he planned to negotiate directly with Schumer.

McConnell canceled a planned break in the Senate, deployed key GOP senators in separate task forces to negotiate the four main sections of the aid package, and urged them to participate democratically. Nevertheless, he was confident that the end product largely reflected conservative priorities.

“They’ve been doing this for a few days, have been very stupid, but that hasn’t changed the core product – which was largely Republican,” McConnell said in an interview with The Post about Democrats.

The comprehensive bailout package brings huge federal spending to the American economy – it sends checks to more than 150 million U.S. households, sets up massive credit programs to keep small and large businesses alive, and dramatically expands unemployment benefit programs while spending on Hospitals are struggling for basic equipment.

But after countless twists and turns in the Senate, one final complication awaited Friday in the House of Representatives when a single GOP member forced lawmakers to return massively to Washington to ensure that a quorum to vote would be there – even if the Senate finally passed Billing was inevitable and the assembly contradicted public health advice.

MP Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) Raised procedural objections that a majority of the house had to be physically present to quickly reject his request. As soon as this was the case, the House passed the legislation shortly before 1:30 p.m. Friday and sent it to the President, who signed it hours later.

This last-minute scramble was an appropriate end to hectic negotiations that were tense from the start.

From the start, McConnell believed that it was only fair that the Senate should take the lead in drafting the third phase of the Coronavirus legislation and that the democratically run House would accept it, because despite GOP protests, the Senate is doing the same for the previous one Package had done. This reasoning angered the Democrats who criticized McConnell’s own decision to be on the sidelines for the second phase, and then left Washington to attend an event in Kentucky attended by Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Key senators negotiated for days in separate task forces set up by McConnell. There was enough progress that Mnuchin informed the GOP senators during a Capitol meeting last Saturday that he had just left Schumer’s office and believed that there were no major problems that would prevent them from reaching an agreement later that night to achieve.

But that night, McConnell seemed to have stopped negotiations and was preparing to publish his own legislation. On Sunday, Pelosi, who had flown with her security detail and a dozen others the day before on a 200-seat aircraft on an Alaska Airlines flight, found it bizarre that McConnell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin insisted that there was a deal. Even when she and Schumer drew up a list of provisions, they found this problematic.

The meeting with the four leaders on Sunday went down after McConnell said the Republicans were going to publish their plan – some with democratic input – and Pelosi said she would produce her own bill.

“It underlined why I didn’t want to start with four corners at first,” said McConnell, referring to the quartet of congressional leaders. “It slowed the process down for three days to get a result that we both could participate in.”

Later that day, when Schumer hosted a democratic lunch in the spacious Kennedy Caucus room in the Russell Senate Office Building, where both parties had postponed their party meetings to allow for more distance between members, he emphasized that the McConnell’s plan previously published, mostly a company was bailout that did little for the workers.

But even after these controversial meetings – and the angry speeches, two democratic Filibuster and an unusually heated McConnell – the negotiations continued quickly.

“It was hot on the floor and cool in the room,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity to speak freely.

The fear of the senators, especially those from the most affected countries, was felt everywhere.

When news came during a democratic caucus lunch on Sunday that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Had tested positive for the corona virus, Schumer immediately canceled the meeting and the senators dispersed into their offices to continue by conference call . The Strom Thurmond room in McConnell’s office wing, where some of the meetings had taken place, had been disinfected and left a strong smell of cleaning solution. The negotiating team eventually moved to a separate meeting room named after former President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Was worried long before the rest of her colleagues based on what she had seen in her home state, where most of the early coronavirus cases were concentrated.

Even during the impeachment process that took up the Senate in the first weeks of the year, Murray was concerned that other senators were not taking the emerging public health crisis seriously. Senate Democrat No. 3 quickly stopped going to face-to-face meetings and asked Schumer to hold conference calls instead. She insisted that her own helpers stay as far away from the congress premises as possible.

At a retreat on February 26 with other Senate Democrats, Murray delivered an invigorating message as headlines began to hit the mysterious outbreak in a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington: “What is happening in Washington State is coming to you.”

In the following weeks, this urgency spread to other states and their leaders when New York and California joined Washington State as the epicenter of the pandemic. The frustration and despair over massive federal aid was underlined in a Wednesday meeting between New York governor Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and members of the state house delegation, at which the governor repeatedly negotiated the bill – that state senator Schumer – as insufficient.

Cuomo aimed at Schumer, he said He knows that the well-known media-savvy Schumer wants to make a press release that he has passed something, but then the governor had to figure out how to run a state budget – and that he couldn’t do anything with the money allotted to New York under the package.

“I’m paying the whole damn bill here,” Cuomo told members of the New York House when they called.

Cuomo asked the House delegation to raise more money in New York and they replied that they would try. But in the end, the house passed the bill unchanged from the version that Cuomo lambasted.

“What happened was that we kept our eyes on what had to be done that really met national needs – a lot more money for hospitals than suggested, far more accountability for business bailouts than suggested,” said Schumer in Interview with The Post. “Money for the state and place that they had nothing from. And more things for the working and unemployed, and they, our Republican friends, really didn’t have much to say. “

By Friday evening, more than 100,000 Americans with more than 1,500 deaths had been infected with the virus. Several large companies were brought to their knees. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, and economists predicted a second coming of the Great Depression when the US economy came to a standstill.

When the vote was held late Wednesday, the senators were reminded that the crisis was everywhere, including within the Senate Chamber. On the republican side of the clerk’s counter, where votes are counted, the GOP senators were greeted with a sheet of white paper that had a blood red design with a two-word greeting: “SOCIAL DISTANCE”.

On the other side of the table, Democrats were greeted by a more complex stick figure design that explained how far apart they should be with a similar two-word admonition: “CREATE SPACE”.

When the last two voices played out, Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.) Assumed the office of chairman, always a tedious task, but one that now involves a different regime: he reached under the desk to wipe a large disinfectant sheet then off the desk to make sure there were no viral germs.

The law had been passed easily with 88 yes and not a single vote against. Murray stood at the edge of the chamber and did not want to enter a place that wanted to close for thorough cleaning. Most senators don’t know when they will return to vote.

She held up her finger and waited for an employee to see her in the distance before Schumer finally pointed to employees to recognize them.

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