Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders and representatives of the Trump administration have been trying to come up with an agreement on another round of Covid-19 relief for the country.
So far, there is no deal.
The House of Representatives has already passed their version. It is a Democratic bill that served as a vehicle for hundreds of millions of dollars in spending unrelated to the pandemic.
Privately, even some House Democrats complained about some of the add-ons, like the taxpayer-funded diversity studies of the legal pot industry and a revision in tax code that would benefit the highest earners.
The Senate Republican plan is a more manageable $1 trillion. No doubt Republicans have tucked a few of their side projects into the bill, but any excess is far more manageable than the House bill.
The problem is that Republicans are not united. An estimated 20 Republican Senators do not think there should be any additional pandemic relief. Also, President Trump and Senate Republican leaders do not seem to be on the same page.
Senate Republicans who do not want to add another dollar for pandemic relief may argue they are trying to hold the line on federal spending. The national debt is a legitimate concern, but so are the immediate state of the economy and the millions of people who have been sidelined.
The pandemic is not going away and without additional help, the economic damage will be permanent.
The Republican disunity gives Democrats the negotiating advantage. However, it is doubtful that the restaurant worker who has lost her job or the dry cleaner who is having trouble paying his utility bills cares much now about politics.
The extra $600 a week unemployment benefit for 250,000 West Virginians and more than 30 million Americans ran out last week. Small businesses that obtained the paycheck protection program loans to keep workers on the payroll and pay their bills are running out of money.
Front line health workers have stepped up, and will have to continue going above and beyond, as the country fights back against the virus. Governors, local leaders, and health experts have repeatedly called on Americans to follow best practices, and most Americans have listened.
Now Congress needs to hear the voices of their constituents. The most important thing is not the next election; it is what’s happening right now across the country.
For the good of the nation, they need to find a reasonable compromise and do it quickly.