Byrne: A way forward on coronavirus relief
Last week was pretty frustrating in Washington. While the House frittered away at useless Democrat messaging bills which have no chance of passage in the Senate, Speaker Pelosi refused negotiations with the Senate on a $1 trillion dollar bill to address the nation’s ongoing needs as a result of COVID-19. At the end of the week, she and Senator Schumer refused offers from the White House to extend for four months the extra $600 a week those on unemployment insurance received as a result of the CARES Act we passed in March.
What’s all this about? We are in the middle of a historic pandemic and there are critical national needs to be addressed and last week in the House we just wasted time while the Democrat leadership played games. What is their game? By now, it’s all too obvious. They believe they have an opportunity to run the table in the November elections, take both houses of Congress and the presidency. Then, with an obviously weakened and limited Joe Biden as president, Pelosi and Schumer hold all the power, and in January they wield that power for their benefit and the benefit of the powerful special interests that fund them.
If this sounds raw and cynical that’s because it is. They don’t mind putting the entire country through unnecessary pain for months if that means it enhances their power, because that’s all this is about – their power. They can confidently rely on the support of a national news media that is institutionally and culturally leftist to amplify their message to the detriment of the average person in this country. Just last week I e-mailed one of these news reporters to point out things she left out of a story she wrote. Did I get a reply? No, of course I didn’t get a reply, because the information I provided didn’t help her pre-ordained message. Such is the state of modern so-called “journalism.”
So, what is the way forward? First, let’s continue in our legislative work to focus on the disease. More money for testing and rapid turnaround of results. More money for those healthcare providers on the frontline. More money for domestically produced PPE and for effective therapies. And continued support for vaccine development and ultimate distribution. Second, protection for those laid off through no fault of their own and up to 70% of their state’s average pay. Third, more help for struggling small businesses to keep their workers employed and just stay alive, which means extending the Paycheck Protection Program and expanding allowed uses of those funds. Fourth, more help for schools to open. Fifth, liability protection for all – there is simply no excuse for allowing a small group of lawyers to profit off this crisis.
I know I’m hearing from many of you about these priorities, and I’m sure Democrat members are hearing from their constituents as well. But Pelosi’s hold on many of them is very strong, and she is feeling heat from the far-left interest groups that now dictate the policy positions of the Democrat Party. Based on the polls I’ve seen, the average Democrat is not as far left as this regressive group of neo-Marxists, but they have the money that Pelosi needs to win elections and she’s all about that.
Meanwhile, like robots, we are called to the House floor in groups to vote on bills on which we’ve had no input, and then hurried out of the room by the floor staff. This isn’t a republic anymore, and certainly not what the framers had in mind. It’s all controlled by one person and her special interest cronies, smug in their assurance the national media will paint only the most positive picture of the charade.
But, in the end, the people still hold the real power in this country. My hope is this November they won’t continue in supporting the Pelosi regime, or elect a toady for her as president. The way forward is a House of Representatives whose members think for themselves and are allowed to be the real crafters of legislation. Then, we can solve our national problems the way the framers of our Constitution intended and do the people’s business the way they want us to.
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.