A country in limbo

This piece was originally published in the November 30, 2020 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.

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The number of Americans who were in the hospital with COVID-19 as of Thursday, marking the highest number since the start of the pandemic

It’s almost December — but Trump and McConnell still don’t have a plan to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

As you read this, roughly one American is dying every minute from COVID-19.

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  • With Thanksgiving behind us, and an ever-worsening COVID-19 pandemic on our hands, the U.S. has entered a bit of a holding pattern. Yes, there’s promising movement on the vaccine front. And yes, our executive branch is getting a refresh in 51 days (not that anyone’s counting). But that hasn’t stopped the pandemic from spreading. On Friday, the U.S. tallied more than 200,000 new coronavirus cases in one day for the first time ever.
  • The fact that a new administration will soon take the reins of the federal coronavirus response is promising. But many Americans can’t afford to wait until January for help. Immediate expenses like rent, utilities, and grocery bills are still piling up, despite the millions of people who remain out-of-work because of the pandemic. And with Trump’s failure to step up to the plate, all eyes are on the Senate to see if Mitch McConnell and his caucus will finally pass another round of pandemic stimulus relief before the end of the year.
  • The Senate gaveled back into session today, where it will continue to hash out the details of this much-needed, long awaited stimulus package. This seems like a no-brainer — but, as we know, McConnell has been sitting on the House-passed HEROES Act for more than six months while offering no serious alternative to help Americans stay afloat.
  • If Congressional negotiators come to an agreement, the bill would likely need to be finalized within the next week. This leaves very little wiggle room before the few relief provisions that are still in effect — including moratoriums on federal student loan payments and certain evictions — are set to expire on December 31.


  • Americans overwhelmingly reject cuts to government spending, according to a new report from Data for Progress. A November survey found that 62% of Americans support providing another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, even if it adds to the national debt. The same goes for creating clean energy jobs (57% support) and providing increased unemployment and nutrition assistance (56%).
  • Nevertheless, Republican senators are set to revive the age-old narrative of feigned concern over the national debt. Concerns about deficit spending, which dominated much of the right’s rhetoric during the Obama administration, have been conveniently shelved for the past four years as Trump enacted massive corporate tax cuts — a move that is projected to add about $1.9 trillion to the deficit over a decade. But with Biden set to take office in January, Senate Republicans are signaling their intent to push for decreased government spending at a time when Americans need it most.
  • Slashing funds for public services is bad enough on its own. In the middle of a pandemic, it’s simply cruel. Top economic officials have even spoken out against government spending cuts, stressing the importance of federal financial support in keeping people and businesses afloat through the remainder of this crisis. Despite all this, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) recently told reporters they’d “seen the last” of Republican support for big stimulus packages.
  • Of course, none of this is on the level. As Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said, “[Congressional Republicans] are always concerned about the debt when we’re spending money to help people. They never care when we’re cutting [taxes for] billionaires and corporations.”


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