Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath made a campaign stop in Frankfort on Thursday, where she criticized incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell for not passing a coronavirus relief bill before the Senate adjourned for most of August.
McConnell proposed a new coronavirus relief bill in late August, but couldn’t build enough support for it among some senate Republicans, who thought it was too expensive, and Democrats, who thought it didn’t go far enough.
McGrath says the delay is hurting out of work Kentuckians and local governments trying to respond to the pandemic.
“We should have a senator that’s up in Washington D.C. negotiating, we should have a senator that would be pushing for things like extended unemployment benefits for people who have been thrown off their job for no fault of their own,” McGrath said.
People on unemployment received a $600 per week supplement to their benefits until the end of July, when it expired shortly after McConnell unveiled his bill, which would have extended the benefits at a $200 level.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order earlier this month providing a $400 supplement if people were unemployed during a three-week period between July and August.
McGrath and McConnell have been campaigning across Kentucky throughout August, with McConnell highlighting benefits of the initial coronavirus relief packages that passed earlier this year.
McConnell has said that another coronavirus relief package is necessary, but that he and Democrats disagree over the measure’s price tag.
One of the most expensive parts of the Democratic coronavirus relief bill that passed out of the U.S. House in May, was direct budget assistance for states and local governments facing a drop in tax revenue during the pandemic.
McGrath said that the budget assistance would help keep government employees and frontline workers employed.
“If you can bail out big business with a $500 billion slush fund right off the bat, you should be able to turn around and bail out main street. State and local governments are just us,” McGrath said.
The U.S. House and Senate will return in mid-September. McConnell has said he would call lawmakers back to Washington if a deal on a new bill is reached.