Senator Bernie Sanders spent New Year’s morning making one last attempt to halt the defense bill in order to force Republican leader Mitch McConnell allow a vote on $2,000 checks — and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer spent the morning treating everyone like we’re gullible idiots.
“I just took to the floor again to demand a vote on $2000 survival checks,” Schumer declared, and he slammed Republican lawmakers for objecting. He promised: “Democrats will not stop fighting.”
Then moments later, Schumer and most Senate Democrats surrendered — live on C-Span for everyone to see, they obediently voted for McConnell’s motion to move forward the defense bill for final passage, so that the Senate can close down without any vote on the $2,000 checks. Most Democrats then voted for final passage as well.
Put another way: Schumer tweeted out his promise to fight for starving Americans, while knowing that moments later he would be on live television surrendering to Republicans.
Democrats didn’t even muster enough votes on the procedural motions to keep it close enough to force Georgia incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue off the campaign trail to help McConnell — a scenario that could have provided a huge boost to Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who have been campaigning hard for the $2,000 checks.
I just took to the floor again to demand a vote on $2000 survival checks.
Sen. Thune (R-SD) objected.@SenSanders again demanded a vote on $2000 checks—and then on Sen. McConnell’s own bill.
Sen. Cornyn objected (R-TX) for Sen. Toomey (R-PA).
Democrats will not stop fighting.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 1, 2021
When we published our report yesterday on Democrats beginning to vote for McConnell’s procedural motions, Democratic partisans on social media swarmed in to berate us for having the nerve to report on the situation. They want silence and fealty.
But the accountability journalism we do — and that our grassroots subscribers support — is not designed to make the world’s most powerful people happy. It is designed to report important facts — and the entire battle over the $2,000 checks illustrated nearly every dysfunctional, corrupt and craven aspect of American politics.
Republican lawmakers explicitly exposed themselves as greedy nihilists who are willing to starve their own constituents, while enriching their big donors. They are the foremost villains in all of this, as we have reported.
That said, rank-and-file Senate Democrats abetted the GOP. They showed a different kind of contempt for their own voters — they were happy to pretend to fight, while always planning to avoid a real battle that might corner McConnell. They were better than the GOP in that they were at least willing to demand McConnell allow a vote, and most of them probably would have voted for the $2,000 checks if they had the chance — but they were never willing to wield their power to try to force a vote.
Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and president-elect Joe Biden played particularly pernicious roles helping McConnell slash the original stimulus bill in half. And Schumer’s behavior today — pretending to be fighting hard, while voting with McConnell — was the icing on the cake.
Liberal pundits and billionaire-owned media corporations outed themselves as absurdly-detached elitists — making the fake argument that the $2,000 survival checks might go to some people who don’t really need help, and the baffling claim that Americans will probably just save the checks because they can’t go to restaurants (which are still fully open in most states) or travel on airplanes (yes, people are still flying).
The only players who come off well in any of this are the handful of Democratic senators who had the guts to vote against all of McConnell’s key procedural motions (Sanders, Markey, Merkley, Warren, Wyden, and Van Hollen) and rank-and-file House Democrats who were willing to use their power to pass the $2,000 checks (and yeah, Pelosi deserves some credit for quickly delivering the $2,000 checks amendment to the Senate).
In this whole episode, we see that there are still only a small handful of Democratic senators willing to fight Republicans in a real way — even during an economic emergency. That’s an important reminder of just how much work needs to be done to get the Democratic Party to be something more than the Washington Generals to the Republicans’ Globetrotters.
There are certainly good signs from some Democrats in the House, but the Senate is still an enormous problem. It could become an even bigger problem with new conservative Democratic senators like John Hickenlooper already taking advice from colleagues like Joe Manchin — and with a President Biden now pledging to avoid embarrassing GOP senators.
Schumer doesn’t want any of this out in the open — he wants everyone to think he and his caucus are doing all they can to actually fight for the things they insist they support. But the mask is now off — this morning, he showed what’s really going on here.
Whether or not anyone wants to look at what he showed us remains an open question. The situation is demoralizing, and there is an entire misinformation infrastructure of cable TV news and partisan punditry designed to avert our eyes from the reality of a Democratic Party that is still unwilling to use all of its power against Republicans and for a progressive agenda.