"Do Democrats even care?" It's a fair question -- and the editors at the Wall Street Journal aren't the only ones asking it. Here we are, in the middle of one of the greatest crises in American history, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) swooped into town to demand new curtains for the Kennedy Center. The $35 million for the performing arts hub is just one of the shockers in the House's 1,100-page virus relief counterproposal, which proves there will never be a shortage of one thing in D.C. -- pork peddlers.
Before Pelosi showed up, Americans were finally getting a good look at what the two sides can accomplish when they work together. Hours away from a Senate deal that would put real relief into families' hands, that goodwill vanished in a cloud of sleazy opportunism. "[We were] all zeroing in on what looked like... a done deal," Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) shook his head. "That's what disappoints me about this place," he told listeners on "Washington Watch" Monday. "We could have gotten this across the finish line," but Pelosi "wanted to commandeer the process."
Suddenly, Democrats were insisting on a whole laundry list of concessions on everything from climate change to abortion and sanctuary cities -- nothing, Braun argued, that had anything to do with saving lives or the economy. And this is all going on, he lamented, during a "bona fide effort to tamp this virus down." While the rest of the country is sitting at home, anxiously waiting for help and direction, Democratic leaders are hijacking the relief money desperately needed by hospitals, families, and small businesses. Why? Because their concern isn't helping this nation. It's advancing extremism -- no matter the cost.
Frankly, the editors at the Wall Street Journal pointed out, it's sad. Instead of working together for the good of America, liberals like House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) are telling Democrats to see the crisis as a "tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision." "That's the display of Democratic leadership in a crisis the nation received on Monday... When America most needs bipartisan cooperation, Democrats add to the economic uncertainty by putting their partisan interests above the needs of the country... The political chronology is instructive -- and depressing..."
And, even more ironic, liberals are trying to jam Republicans, the editors point out, on an agenda so radical they "couldn't pass [it] in normal times." Things like: carbon emission mandates, Planned Parenthood funding, a nationwide ballot harvesting program, same-day voter registration, visa extensions for immigrants, a postal bailout, corporate pay equity, the return of "Obamaphones," and more. It isn't Christmas -- but this proposal sure feels like it.
"Republicans had a deal," President Trump tweeted, "until Nancy Pelosi rode into town from her extended vacation. The Democrats want the Virus to win? They are asking for things that have nothing to do with our great workers or companies. They want Open Borders & Green New Deal. Republicans shouldn't agree!" Now, as the clock ticks on, even Senate Democrats are getting "antsy" about Pelosi's strategy. Senators Doug Jones (Ala.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Jon Tester (Mont.), and Joe Manchin (W. Va.) urged the Senate to move -- and fast.
Let's hope they do. It's hard enough to fight this virus and hold the economy together as it is. Adding the mess of partisan politics only puts more people at risk. If Nancy Pelosi can't put self-interest aside and do her duty for the good of America, then maybe it's time she took the government's advice and stayed home.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.