Blue Dogs Call for End to Partisan Games With Economic Rescue Legislation

March 24, 2020 by Dan McCue
The U.S. Capitol. Feb. 4, 2020. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – With the latest economic stimulus bill stalled on Capitol Hill since Sunday, both the Blue Dogs and New Democrat coalitions in the House are calling for an end to the partisanship that is preventing the roughly $2 trillion plan from getting done.

On Tuesday, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., called on the leaders of both parties to put aside partisan gamesmanship and work together to reach a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on an economic rescue package.

“Passing partisan legislation that prioritizes corporations over small businesses and lacks adequate independent oversight of taxpayer dollars is wrong,” Murphy said.

“Using an economic rescue package as a vehicle for a wish list of partisan policies that have nothing to do with the pandemic that we face is also wrong,” she continued. “Leadership of both parties must stop with the partisan games. Now is the time for everyone in Washington to put politics aside and come to a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to ensure we can deliver relief and necessary resources as quickly as possible.” 

Her remarks followed a similar call from Rep. Derek Kilmer, chair of the New Democrat Coalition, who said in an op-ed earlier this week that Congress needs to take bold, bipartisan action to protect the health, safety, and well-being of the American people.

“As Americans grapple with the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health crisis and communities take significant measures to contain its spread, we are already seeing serious disruptions in everyday life and significant economic impacts,” Kilmer wrote.

He went on to call on Congress to support public health efforts and prevent an economic crisis by quickly deploying resources and economic assistance to health care providers and hard-hit individuals and businesses. 

“Now is the time for all our federal leaders to come together to take immediate action. We are hopeful that many of our recommendations will be included in the package and a deal is reached as soon as possible. There is no time to waste,” he said.

On Monday, the Blue Dog Coalition released its policy recommendations for both Congress and the Trump Administration to consider as they continue to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

The recommendations included increased support for rural and tribal areas that particularly lack the resources to respond to both the public health threat and the changing economic dynamics.

This includes measures to ensure rural communities have access to broadband and online learning, as well as critical resources for rural health facilities.

As part of their recommendations, the Blue Dogs also called on the Trump Administration to immediately fill key positions in federal agencies and departments that are critical to pandemic prevention and response, including the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and the disbanded Pandemic Unit within the National Security Council.

Last week, the New Democrats released their preliminary principles and priorities for the continued economic response to the coronavirus outbreak.

These recommendations included providing emergency funding and enhanced reimbursements to protect health care workers through funding for protective gear, training, and dependent care assistance;  providing direct economic assistance and support to individuals;  getting more liquidity into the market where it is needed most through expanded federal low or no interest loans for small and mid-sized businesses; tax relief to support the retention of employees and paid leave;  and providing direct assistance to state, local, and tribal governments. 

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