Fact Check: Did McConnell Block COVID Relief for More Than 200 Days as Democrats Claim?

Legislators are up against the clock to pass more relief before the end of the year and Democrats blame Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans for the time crunch.

Nearly nine months after Congress unanimously passed the CARES Act, legislators have yet to pass additional relief and at the end of the month, critical provisions for unemployment assistance and student loan forbearance are set to expire.

With less than two weeks to pass more relief, legislators are negotiating a $908 billion. bipartisan proposal and it's unclear if they'll be able to come to an agreement before Congress leaves for winter break.

The Claim

Democrats blame the lack of relief on McConnell, whom they say blocked coronavirus relief, in part because he refused to budge from needing liability protections for businesses, schools and hospitals. Going into December, several legislators used the 200-day benchmark to drive home the "inaction" on the part of McConnell.

Another huge problem arising from Mitch McConnell blocking aid packages in the Senate: millions of Americans are set to lose access to paid leave because of expiring provisions in relief legislation, as cases spike. Senate Republicans could stop this at any time, but they aren't. https://t.co/ye33Bn20fv

— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) November 30, 2020

Six months ago today, House Democrats passed the HEROES Act, a comprehensive Covid relief and response bill.

Six months later, with cases surging, McConnell continues to block it.

The stakes couldn’t be higher in winning two seats in Georgia and flipping the Senate. https://t.co/iSjVqXnjxB

— Sean Eldridge (@SeanEldridge) November 15, 2020

Notice how GOP senators say zilch about Trump using the courts to try to overturn an election while McConnell is blocking an emergency COVID-19 relief bill unless it prevents workers and others from going to court if they have been negligently exposed to the virus.

— Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) December 8, 2020

Republicans have been sitting on their hands for 7 months since the House passed Covid relief. Mitch McConnell has blocked any meaningful effort to help the American people. https://t.co/fL7XThuUha

— Jeff Merkley (@JeffMerkley) December 8, 2020

It is past time for the Senate to act.

Democrats have been trying since this spring when Senate Republicans were saying they did not feel the “urgency of acting."

To Senator McConnell and Senate GOP:

We must pass a COVID-relief bill and help Americans across the country.

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 8, 2020

The weekly $600 boost kept workers and our economy afloat, until Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump killed it. Thanks to McConnell's stonewalling on economic relief, our country is staring down the barrel of the worst economic crisis of our lifetime. https://t.co/O9WZp5hJgI

— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) December 7, 2020

Congresswoman Haley Stevens (@HaleyLive) knows how to help workers and families. That's why she helped pass COVID-19 relief over 200 days ago.

But one person is standing in the way. Mitch McConnell’s political games are costing lives and livelihoods. https://t.co/TzRDyCuWih

— Michigan Democrats (@MichiganDems) December 5, 2020

A quick reminder that it’s been over 200 days since the House passed the HEROES Act to provide relief for the American people.

That’s 200+ days of inaction from Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans.

We deserve better.

— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) December 3, 2020

200 days since Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell blocked The Heroes Act.

We need a pandemic relief bill now.

— Democratic Governors (@DemGovs) December 1, 2020

2️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ days ago, HouseDemocrats passed the #HeroesAct.

In 200 days, we could have:
💰 Restored weekly unemployment benefits
💵 Provided additional $1200 payments
🏡 Boosted housing assistance for renters & homeowners

DO YOUR JOB @senatemajldr. America is waiting ⏰

— House Democrats (@HouseDemocrats) December 2, 2020

Today, one of the deadliest days in US history, also marked 200 days mcconnell republicans have been blocking pandemic relief and new stimulus checks.

How many Americans died today because of donald trump? https://t.co/2VMNwjZmWG

— Bill Pascrell, Jr. (@BillPascrell) December 3, 2020

The Facts

On May 15, the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion package largely along party lines. Only one Republican, Representative Pete King of New York, voted in favor of the package.

McConnell called the legislation "dead on arrival" and never brought it to the Senate floor for a vote. In July, he said he wouldn't bring any relief package to the floor for a vote unless it included liability protections, a provision Democrats have pushed back on for putting workers at risk.

The House passed a smaller version of the package in October, commonly referred to as HEROES 2.0, worth $2.2 trillion, but it was not brought to the Senate for a floor vote.

mitch mcconnell stimulus
Democrats criticized Senator Mitch McConnell for holding up coronavirus relief. McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media after the Republican's weekly senate luncheon in the US Capitol on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty

While Democrats pushed for the Senate to take up the relief bill passed in the House, McConnell attempted to pass a GOP-backed plan. Democrats criticized the $500 billion targeted relief package for being an insufficient response to the pandemic and successfully blocked the measure twice when Republicans were unable to get enough votes to overcome the filibuster.

The Ruling

Mostly True.

McConnell said he decides what legislation the Senate votes on and he wouldn't bring either version of the HEROES Act to the floor, thereby blocking it from becoming law. However, he did attempt to pass relief in the Senate, although it failed to gather the votes necessary to get out of the Chamber.

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said that the package was worth $908 trillion. It has been corrected to read $908 billion.

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