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As COVID-19 surges, McConnell and Trump must set foolishness aside and push through financial relief

Now’s the time for McConnell’s Republican senate colleagues to push him toward real action.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. | AP file
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to reconvene the Senate to push through judicial nominations, but there are more pressing issues.
AP file

As COVID-19 tightens its grip on the nation’s health and economy, it’s all the more important that lawmakers “go big” and pass a federal stimulus package that includes substantial aid to city and state governments, working Americans and small businesses.

But the hitch is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, and President Donald Trump, who seem to be locked in a race to determine who can be the most useless in America’s hour of need.

Citing improving unemployment figures, McConnell wants a smaller relief bill. He has yet to detail what that package might look like, but no doubt the long-and-short of it would mean less aid doled out to fewer people and entities.

As for Trump, he yet to commit to signing any new federal stimulus legislation. He appears to be bent on spending the last 70 days of his tenure firing cabinet members and waging a Quixotic attempt to invalidate the presidential election he lost.

McConnell’s and Trump’s failures to lead come in the face of reports this week that the pandemic is surging, with 100,000 new cases reported daily. Which likely means that sooner or later, we’ll have to lock-down the economy again.

That’s pain that would be felt across the country, but especially in Chicago, where an economy that has slowed to a crawl — meaning less taxes are being collected — has contributed to a $1.2 billion government budget shortfall. And restaurants and other businesses across the city and region have shut their doors, and may not open again.

It might be hoping against hope, but now’s the time for McConnell’s Republican Senate colleagues to push him toward some real action on this. And McConnell, who’s spent the past four years in service to Trump, could help the president go out with a victory by signing meaningful stimulus legislation.

The proper federal assistance would help the nation and its state and local governments better absorb the financial blow off the shutdowns to come — while helping save lives.

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