WASHINGTON, D.C. – Early this morning, after a lengthy series of votes, the U.S. Senate took the first step in getting much needed relief swiftly to the American people who are continuing to hurt from the pandemic. The Senate’s budget resolution includes instructions for funding another round of stimulus checks, housing assistance, and significant support for state, local, and tribal governments. But at a time when nearly 18 million Americans are jobless, mass evictions are lurking just around the corner, and hundreds of small businesses are worried about how much longer they can hang on, Senate Republicans chose to put the interests of their donors and industry allies over those of American families.
“The American people urgently need an economic stimulus plan to combat the continuing impacts of the pandemic. Instead of working with their Democratic colleagues, Senate Republicans chose obstruction,” said Kyle Herrig, president of government watchdog Accountable.US. “The budget resolution is the first step to getting aid to the American people swiftly, and it is unfortunate these senators instead took last night’s debate to show they will protect their donor interests over the American people. There is no time to wait. American families need help now.”
Not a single Senate Republican supported the first step in delivering overdue aid even as unemployment in the Trump recession remains unacceptably high, including 9.2 percent in the African American community. Instead, a number of them used yesterday’s marathon vote-a-rama to do their industry allies’ bidding, including:
- To help Big Pharma, Sen. Burr introduced SA 209, an amendment to “advanc[e] biomedical research and development, which may include promoting public-private partnerships and reducing regulatory burden.”
- Burr is a longtime investor in the biomedical industry, with him and his wife having bought and sold as much as $1.1M in biomedical company stock since 2013. STAT News called him “one of pharma’s favorite senators” with North Carolina’s bioscience trade group confirming, “The industry feels very positive about Sen. Burr…He’s done a stellar job.”
- To block meaningful climate change action, Sen. Barrasso introduced SA 644, a point of order against the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Green Climate Fund which was created to “[help] developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and enhance their ability to respond to climate change.”
- Barrasso has received over $1.1M from the oil & gas industry and recently criticized a Biden executive order banning new oil and gas leases on federal lands and water. Major oil & gas companies have plowed more than $110 billion into fossil fuel infrastructure since the Paris accords were initially signed.
- To force workers to choose between their jobs and their health, Sen. Thune introduced SA 357, an amendment “enforc[ing] of return-to-work requirements for unemployment assistance.”
- This attempt to further undercut benefits comes as the unprecedented economic turmoil wrought by COVID-19 forced at least 8 million Americans into poverty and after reports some employers cruelly flouted COVID-19 protections as the Department of Labor under Trump failed to meaningfully enforce worker safety.
See the full list at Accountable.US’s vote-a-rama live blog.