/COVID-19 relief bill Espy says Hyde-Smith blasting Democrats for advocating for what she supports

COVID-19 relief bill Espy says Hyde-Smith blasting Democrats for advocating for what she supports

This jockeying took place over the past few weeks, as Congress considered and passed a fourth package of relief to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Hyde-Smith spent considerable time critiquing congressional Democrats, Espy absentia, for holding back the latest relief package in order to add “unrelated” items to the legislation. The Espy campaign pointed to the fact that Hyde-Smith had sent out a press release promoting the “unrelated” items needed to fight the pandemic after the legislation was passed. Politics can be confusing. Two weeks ago, it was clear that legislation was being considered to increase funds for the Paycheck Protection Program. This program provides forgivable loans for small businesses to help them pay their employees for at most eight weeks in the severe economic downturn that COVID-19 has caused. With the support of Hyde Smith, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky wanted the legislation to only address the Paycheck Protection Program. To the full Senate, he said so. However, congressional Democrats argued that the program should also include money for COVID-19 testing, funds for hospitals affected by the coronavirus and funds for state and local governments whose tax revenues have been reduced due to the economic downturn. Hyde-Smith, who was unable to pass legislation relating only to the Payroll Protection Program, tweeted April 15: “Democrats must cease blocking new (Paycheck Protection).” In the end, Democrats won and included funds for testing and hospitals, but not for the beleaguered state or local governments. Although she was against adding additional items to the Payroll Protection Program, Hyde-Smith praised the additions made to the bill by the Democrats. “The continuing needs and hardships that are affecting our economy and health care system are evident. It becomes more apparent that the economic shutdown is not sustainable the longer it continues. This legislation is meant to help us move towards a safe reopening for more day-today commerce across our nation,” Hyde Smith stated in a news release. She said she supports the bill, calling it “adding paycheck Protection Program Funds, further support hospitals and testing” and criticizing Democrats for “delaying completion of the new legislation for more that a week with new demands on important ongoing relief programs.” Are those issues – funding for hospitals and coronavirus screening – necessary to address the pandemic? Espy claimed that Sen. Hyde Smith was the best example of political hypocrisy. After complaining for a week about Democrats trying to ensure that the latest round coronavirus relief funding included funding for hospitals, coronavirus testing, and funding for coronavirus treatment, Espy is all too happy to take credit and celebrate the funding she had been fighting against. Justin Brasell, spokesperson for Hyde-Smith, said that it took two weeks for Democrats to reach a deal that contained virtually nothing Republicans had ever opposed. Republicans have always supported increased medical funding. But, Democrats have delayed crucial resources from getting to the door at every opportunity. This is the new precedent Mississippians can expect going forward. To be used for partisan leverage” McConnell’s bill, which Hyde-Smith supported, would have increased funding for the Payroll Protection Program to $300 billion. There is nothing else. McConnel stated on the Senate floor that he was literally referring to deleting 350 and writing 650 instead. Democrats blocked McConnel’s attempt. Brasell earlier said that more could be done in the future. He stated that the fourth relief bill was not the final legislation needed to help the country recover from COVID-19. McConnell tried to keep the main focus on the SBA Paycheck Protection Program’s refund. Future legislation could include aid for the state and local governments. Money for hospitals and testing has already been addressed. Despite the rhetoric, everyone seems to agree that it was necessary. Espy and Hyde Smith engaged in a passionate campaign during the 2018 special election to succeed long-term Senator Thad Cochran, who resigned due to health reasons. Despite the limitations that the coronavirus could place on campaigning, the rematch looks just as competitive. Disclosure: Mississippi Today is a non-profit news organization and small business that applied for and was granted a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program. The amount was $257,500.