After 36 years in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can add proud inaction in the face of the suffering caused by coronavirus to the very top of his résumé. Facing off with Democratic candidate Amy McGrath in the Kentucky Senate debate yesterday, McConnell was harshly questioned by his opponent about what he’s done to help Americans amid the pandemic. In a particularly telling segment of the debate, McConnell refused to even answer McGrath’s criticism of his failure to push through COVID-19 relief efforts in Congress. Instead, he cackled like a TV movie villain.
“The House passed a bill in May and this Senate went on vacation,” McGrath said, referring to the HEROES Act. McConnell, instead of responding or remaining quiet, began to chuckle. “Senator, it is a national crisis — you knew that the coronavirus wasn’t gonna end at the end of July. We knew that,” McGrath said. “If you want to call yourself a leader, you’ve got to get things done and those of us who served in the Marines, we don’t just point fingers at the other side. We get the job done.” McConnell continued laughing, before he eventually went on to blame House speaker Nancy Pelosi instead. “Look, I know how to make deals. I made three major deals with Joe Biden during the Obama era. What the problem is here is the unwillingness of the speaker to make a deal,” McConnell responded. But, what was so funny about hundreds of thousands dead Americans, Mitch?
McConnell’s laugh — along with his lack of accountability — is jarring, considering that nearly 215,000 coronavirus deaths have been recorded in America, and nearly 35,000 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. And the numbers just continue to skyrocket: In Kentucky alone, Governor Beshear confirmed yesterday that the number of coronavirus cases is the highest number ever confirmed on a Monday since the pandemic began. The state total is currently at 80,930 cases, with the death toll just above 1,200.
Despite all this, McConnell has done little to help his community. The Republican Senator has repeatedly rejected to work with Democrats and passed on multiple relief efforts. McConnell also famously said he’d rather see states go bankrupt than extend a federal bailout during the pandemic.
Ironically, McConnell has recently been avoiding the White House due to its poor handling of distancing and safety precautions — all while he deprives Kentuckians and Americans of the resources they need to be safe. Just last week, he said it was “unclear” whether there would be another relief bill before November 3, and emphasized that his priority is confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
While more than a million people in Kentucky have filed for unemployment since the pandemic hit, McConnell may just continue to take vacations and chuckle it off. But with early voting in Kentucky scheduled to begin today, only time will tell if he may be chipping away at the votes he needs to win the election.