House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) isn't too worried about democracy right now.
As Congress discusses further relief bills amid the COVID-19 pandemic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has insisted they include funding for mail-in ballots through the primaries and November election. But McCarthy slammed that demand as "disgusting" on Thursday, even after Wisconsin's pandemic primary proved problematic just days earlier.
"You want to hold up the bill because you want to change election law for November, because you think that gives you some political benefit?” McCarthy told Politico and other reporters during a press call. “That's disgusting to me," he continued, saying Democrats should worry about "the health of the nation" and "our economy" instead.
"The health of the nation" is exactly what Democrats say they are trying to address in funding mail-in voting. The current system relies on in-person voting — something that isn't safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic's stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines. Wisconsin displayed how untenable the in-person voting system is on Tuesday when hundreds of polling sites had to close, in-person turnout plunged, and voters were forced to wait for hours in socially distanced lines. Absentee ballot returns skyrocketed, but many people in Wisconsin reported they didn't receive them in time to cast their votes.
Without a provision for remote voting in Congress, every coronavirus relief package can be held up with a single sign of opposition. That's what happened Thursday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) $250 billion small business loan package as Democrats demanded more accountability and an additional $250 billion in funding for health care facilities and local and state governments. Kathryn Krawczyk