Where is Congress?


April 23, 2020

Why are most congressional representatives not in Washington, DC working to help the American people who voted for them to do just that, especially when facing the reality of the virus and the free falling economy?


After weeks of NOT meeting, Congress has decided they will not meet again as a collective body in session until May 4th—two more weeks without voting to fund small businesses and help the American people navigate through the challenges presented by the COVID-19 virus.


If they cannot meet in DC due to the shutdown, then they can meet elsewhere in the country—maybe Omaha, where the government has facilities to operate if necessary and the Coronavirus appears to be less devastating than in other areas of the country.


What is the job members of Congress were hired for? What do we, the tax payers, pay them to do? They are elected to make laws, but they also have the power of the purse. They control money allocations that are desperately needed during this time of crisis.


The economy is crashing and gets worse daily. Small businesses (which can easily be argued as the lifeblood of the economy) are dying or holding on by a thread, waiting for the $350 billion that was allocated, which ran out after less than a week. Unfortunately, due to either poor direction from Congress and/or mismanagement by banks, too many of the very small businesses have not gotten any money. Yet Harvard University with their huge endowment received $9 million, Shake Shack received $10 million, some hedge funds received millions, and many other big name companies and corporations that fall under the 500 employee limit got their money before businesses with less than 10 or 25 employees. Some banks, evidently, chose to take care of their larger depositors with less than 500 employees and some chose to ensure those that owed them got their money so they would have funds to pay back their current loans. I have 13 clients that applied for the Payroll Protection Program and only two have received their portion of the money. All 13 have 10 or less employees.


By the way, Shake Shack is giving their money back to help other small businesses, yet by law the money cannot be reallocated or distributed unless Congress meets and votes on doing just that. Yet where is Congress?


The Senate asked last week for a unanimous vote to approve $250 billion to be added to the $350 billion already allocated in the CARES Act that has run out. Yet many in Congress said no because they want to add things to the allocation. Some, if not all of these things, could easily be included in another bill that needs to be debated and written, so that the $250 billion could flow now. But no, they will not let that happen. The result is a stalemate in the do nothing Congress. This will result in at least several more weeks of delay in getting money sorely needed to those desperate to hold on. What makes this even more infuriating is that the CARES Act (which contained the original $350 billion package) was ready to be enacted five days before it was voted on because the Democrats wanted to add funding for Arts and many other things that had nothing to do with the economic crisis presented by COVID-19. That resulted in a five day delay. Again, how many businesses died or will die because of those five days plus the weeks since the additional $250 billion was proposed?


The Speaker of the House, has been visible, not in Washington, DC, but on the late night TV shows and Sunday news shows, talking about the “opportunity” the Democrats have—not working to get money to the small Businesses and thus get many of them to retain their employees and not raise the 22 million unemployed to a higher number.


It is a continued failure of Congress by not meeting and working for America on America and it will continue to make the economic recovery much slower. Now is not the time for partisan politics. It is the time for action by Congress.


During World War II, where was Congress? After 9/11, where was Congress? During any critical situation the United States has faced, where was Congress? In Washington, DC working for America. Not this Congress. Why?


Remember this when you go to the polls in November. Where were your representatives during the Coronavirus? Were they in Washington (some actually were) or were they in their home states, not responding to the urgency the American people and American economy need.