As I followed the tortuous path of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package through the hallowed halls of Congress last week, the words of Mark Twain came quickly to my mind.
“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress, but I repeat myself.”
Fortunately, idiocy was the exception to the rule in the Senate discussion and debate on the historic relief bill. Vermont senator and presumptuous presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, threatened to try to block the bill. However, even he voted for it in a bipartisan 96-0 victory last Wednesday.
Unfortunately, idiocy reared its ugly head at least thrice in the House, despite Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call for unity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. First-term Democrat representative from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, warned darkly she might force a roll call vote on the bill. She didn’t, though. Upstart Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., a self-styled libertarian who relishes resisting GOP leadership, went a step further and called for a roll call vote. However, the presiding officer, Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., overruled him. The bill passed early Friday afternoon by overwhelming bipartisan vote, and was rushed to President Trump, to be signed it into law.
Proof positive that idiocy in Congress transcends party and gender, fresh person Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., put on her pink latex gloves and ranted on beyond her allocated time, to the chagrin of both parties, before she was ruled “out of order and no longer recognized” on the House floor. Her message? I don’t know.
The latest, but surely not the last, coronavirus relief package came one day after our nation “reached two grim milestones.” We now have “the most coronavirus cases in the world.”
And we’re facing “a record 3.28 million workers who applied for unemployment benefits in one week.” That’s more than four times the previous record.
This just in as I write on Friday afternoon, President Trump has signed the latest economic relief package aimed at helping American workers and businesses impacted by coronavirus pandemic. Designed to shore up our economy, battered by the coronavirus pandemic, it will send $1,200 checks to millions of Americans and provide zero-interest loans to small businesses employing fewer than 500 workers. It will also dramatically expand unemployment benefits, aid to struggling airlines, hospitals and other critical industries.
Now it is up to our political leaders, national, state and local, to transform the coronavirus relief package into results on the ground all across America, the sooner the better for all concerned.
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.