I am not optimistic that we are going to see major (COVID-19 relief) legislation pass Congress between now and Election Day.

If you look backwards; if you look back to when this pandemic began, in the opening weeks and months we saw enormous bipartisan cooperation in Congress. Congress came together repeatedly and passed major legislation to address the crisis, the biggest bill of which was the CARES Act. 

The CARES Act passed the Senate 96-0. I voted for it and Bernie Sanders voted for it. That is a lot of ideological diversity. The reason you saw such deep bipartisan agreement was it was the right of the crisis and everyone understood we needed to act quickly to provide people the relief they needed as they were experiencing extraordinary economic pain from this pandemic.

Where we are today is unfortunately a very different situation. The spirit of bipartisanship we saw in the spring and summer has disappeared. The House, a couple of months ago, took up a bill that frankly was not a serious attempt at actually passing legislation. It was a $3 trillion bill that Nancy Pelosi passed without speaking to Republicans, without speaking to the Senate. And it essentially consisted of a series of partisan priorities, a Democratic wish list to campaign on in November. But there was never any intention of actually passing that into law.

In the Senate, Senate Republican leadership introduced their own version of a bill. That bill was about a trillion dollars, compared to three billion dollars. I think comparatively, much more fiscally responsible. One of the things that I and others are concerned about is the massive amount of government spending we’ve seen in the last six months and the consequences for our country going forward of that massively increasing debt. 

In my view, both the House bill and the Senate leadership bill are focused on the wrong objectives. I think what our focus should be on is recovery. On helping the millions of small businesses, the men and women on this call, who are just now opening their doors, who are struggling to survive. Helping those small businesses survive and grow and prosper and hire workers back. 

And so I have introduced legislation that is called the Recovery Act that focuses on reducing taxes, reducing regulatory burdens, limiting the liability for small businesses to get our economy moving. I think everyone of these economic issues we face… what is critical is we get people back to work and we do so in a way that is safe. And so that’s where I think the focus should be. 

That being said, I think it is very unlikely that you are going to see the House and Senate come together. And the reason is that I believe that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have made a political determination that they don’t want a deal. That they feel a deal is not helpful. I think they have made a political determination that maximizing the economic pain, the more people who are angry and broke and unemployed come November 3rd, the better they believe Joe Biden and the Democrats will do. And based on everything they are saying and doing, both privately and publicly, I think neither Pelosi or Schumer want a deal. 

What Pelosi has been telling her team, House Democrats, is to prepare legislation for January when they believe they will have Democratic majorities. And they have made what I believe is a very cynical decision that, in the meantime, the more economic pain and uncertainty, the more it benefits their party. That, I think, is an unfortunate decision.

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was made by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in a webinar hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Partnership. RGVP President Sergio Contreras asked Cruz what the chances were of Congress passing another major relief package. Cruz responded with the above remarks. The webinar also included questions about a new infrastructure bill, extending the 2020 Census deadline, limiting liability in COVID-19 related lawsuits, and reopening international bridges to Mexican visa holders. 

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)

Here is a podcast of the webinar:

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