Chuck Schumer Slams 'Highly Partisan' Mitch McConnell, Refers to Past Stimulus 'Mistake'

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has hit back at his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell after the minority leader's criticism of the COVID-19 relief bill making its way through Congress.

Democrats are pushing through President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion package using reconciliation, which allows them to progress the bill without Republican support.

The Senate passed the package last week, with a vote split along party lines. The amended bill has returned to the House, which is due to vote on it on Wednesday.

McConnell criticized the package on the Senate floor, branding it "very liberal and purely partisan."

The Kentucky senator and other Republican lawmakers have criticized the use of the reconciliation process to pass Biden's relief plan.

McConnell said Democratic lawmakers in the Senate "put lock-step party unity ahead of substance and ahead of bipartisan compromise."

Asked about these remarks by CNN's Anderson Cooper, Schumer said: "The biggest bill McConnell put on the floor was a bill of about the same size, $1.7 trillion. It benefited the top 1 percent. It was tax cuts for the very wealthy and for big corporations.

"Our bill helps people in the middle class and who are poor. It will cut in half child poverty—poor kids who don't have much of a chance and then grow up not having to have good, full, happy, productive lives are going to get a much better break here."

He added that McConnell "instead of just opposing everything and trying to thwart Biden and be so political, he ought to be joining us in helping the American people. Close to half of all Republican voters like this bill. This is not a partisan bill.

"But McConnell is being highly partisan and hurting America."

Polls have shown that the $1.9 trillion plan has widespread public support, including from Republican voters.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the $1.9 trillion stimulus is a not a partisan piece of legislation, although it's not yet garnered any GOP support.

"This is not a partisan bill," Schumer told @andersoncooper. "McConnell is being highly partisan and hurting America." pic.twitter.com/SXAFVaEZz7

— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) March 10, 2021

Cooper went on to ask Schumer about the Senate Republicans who met with Biden earlier this year to discuss COVID relief. The CNN host mentioned Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney, asking if more could have been done to get them on board.

The Senate majority leader said: "What was offered by the Republicans was so far away from what's needed, so far away from what Biden proposed, that he thought that they were not being serious and wanting to really negotiate."

In January, Democrats rejected the GOP senators' proposal of a relief package worth around $600 billion.

Schumer also pointed to lessons learned from the "mistake" of 2009, when a stimulus package was passed to tackle the financial crisis.

"We made a big mistake in 2009 and 2010. Susan Collins was part of that mistake," he told Cooper. "We cut back on the stimulus, dramatically, and we stayed in recession for five years."

He has previously said Congress was "too timid and constrained in its response to the financial crisis" of 2008, in remarks reported by The New York Times last month.

President Biden has spoken of wanting to act in a bipartisan manner on COVID stimulus, but the White House has also reiterated his desire to respond "boldly and urgently."

Newsweek has contacted the lawmakers mentioned for comment.

chuck schumer at weekly news conference
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 2. He has hit back at Mitch McConnell's criticism of the COVID-19 relief bill. Alex Wong/Getty Images