Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday expressed disagreement with Kentucky Governor Andy Besheer for not canceling an additional $ 300 a week in unemployment benefits that have been available for most of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I really disagree with the governor,” McConnell said at a news conference Wednesday at Citizens Union Bank in Shelbyville after a private meeting with local officials. “I think we are now at a competitive disadvantage with all the states around us except Illinois.”
Twenty-three states, including all surrounding Kentucky with the exception of Illinois, have ended the federal bonus, which will run until September. They express concern that the extra money makes workers unable to qualify for affordable jobs. Many dispute this claim, saying that businesses should raise wages to attract workers.
The additional payment, made possible by the US federal bailout plan adopted in March, is due to end on September 6.
Besheer said Tuesday that lifting the extended unemployment benefit would slow consumer spending, lead to a slower economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and could hurt people who need money to feed their families.
“Some people only want to consider this idea, that some can stay at home because of this money,” said the Democrat governor. “But they would cut this program down for people who don’t have childcare … they don’t think about people who need school to be in the place I know will be in the fall. They don’t look at people whose jobs may no longer exist. “
McConnell, a Louisville Republican, said the difficulty getting people back to work is one of the biggest challenges posed by the pandemic.
He said that every business person he met in recent days, including employers in hospitals, has had problems getting people back to work. “They all think this is due to an extra bonus,” he said. “The coronavirus is left behind. We need to get back to work. We need to be productive, and I disagree with the governor’s decision. “
On another issue, McConnell hoped a bipartisan agreement could be reached on a major White House infrastructure investment proposal.
McConnell said earlier in the day he spoke with West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the main Republican in the infrastructure talks, which was due to meet with President Biden on Wednesday.
The deadline for the administration’s deal is June 7th. Biden originally proposed spending $ 2.3 trillion, but cut that amount to $ 1.7 trillion and called for an increase in the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent to pay for it.
Republicans proposed a $ 928 billion deal and used unspent funds from COVID-19 to pay for it.
McConnell also answered questions on several other topics.
▪ He defended his opposition to a two-party proposal for an independent investigation into the January 6 Capitol uprising.
McConnell said there was a need to define “the best way, first, to punish those who were involved, and second, to make sure it never happens again.”
US Attorney General Merrick Garland assured him that the Justice Department is aggressively pursuing the rebellion, “so no one can get away with it,” McConnell said.
He also said that two Senate committees are developing plans to prevent recurrence. “This is the key to moving forward. Another level of investigation, in my opinion, adds nothing. We have all witnessed this. I was here. We all know exactly what happened. I don’t think we will be able to find out more if we carry out another level of investigation. ”
▪ McConnell said he does not think any change in voting in various states is aimed at suppressing voting on the basis of race.
He said Democrats are trying to convince the Senate that states are participating in attempts to prevent people from voting in order to gain full federal control of the election.
▪ He said he had no opinion about pre-filled invoice at the Kentucky General Assembly, by Representative Joe Fisher, R-Fort Thomas, to restrict the teaching of systemic racism in Kentucky public school classrooms. Overall, McConnell said the government should not dictate what is taught in schools.
He said he was concerned about attempts to downplay significant events in American history, such as the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the signing of the US Constitution in 1787, and the enactment of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, which outlawed racial discrimination in voting.
McConnell was criticized last month when he said he didn’t think 1619 is one of the most important moments in US history. It was then that the first enslaved Africans were transported and sold to the Virginia Colony, initiating American slavery.
In 2019, the New York Times launched an initiative called The 1619 Project. Its goal is to “reimagine the country’s history by placing the effects of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”