Baker criticizes Senate, not Trump
Calls congressional bickering on aid bill ‘appalling’
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER harshly criticized the US Senate for failing to quickly reach an agreement on a stimulus package for the country but shied away from taking on President Trump for comments he made suggesting that he may ease some COVID-19 restrictions to revive the economy.
At a press briefing inside the cavernous Gardner Auditorium at the State House, Baker, unprompted, lit into the Senate for failing to reach an agreement on an economic aid bill Monday night.
“It’s been appalling but I can’t say I’m surprised,” Baker said of the bickering going on in Washington, where Democrats have argued that the Senate GOP bill favors companies over families and health-care providers and Republicans have insisted the measure would benefit the entire economy, which has been staggered by massive layoffs over the last week.
Baker said state and local officials have worked in a bipartisan way to address the virus outbreak. “So I know it’s possible, if they choose to, for DC to do the same,” Baker said. “We all hope, and try to be confident, that Congress will get the job done soon because this kind of partisan behavior is simply not an option now.”
He said the nation is waiting for the federal government to take the lead on coronavirus. “It’s critical that these folks find a way to get to yes,” he said.
Senate leaders retired for the night Monday confident that they would get a deal done on Tuesday. As of midday, when Baker held his press conference, no bill had emerged from the Senate.
Even as Baker was critical of Congress, he was more muted when it came to Trump. Like Baker, the president criticized lawmakers on Capitol Hill for failing to pass an economic aid bill, but he has also raised concerns about the economic fallout of all the coronavirus restrictions being placed on the nation and its economy.
On Monday, he said he wasn’t willing to have the nation’s economy shut down for months and indicated he may ease back on some of the federal guidelines his administration has issued. Dan Patrick, the 69-year-old Republican lieutenant of governor of Texas, said on Monday night that the country needs to get back to work, and grandparents like him are willing to take the risk of contracting COVID-19 rather than sacrifice the future of the nation.
Trump echoed that sentiment on Tuesday. “Our people want to return to work,” Trump tweeted. “They will practice Social Distancing and all else, and Seniors will be watched over protectively & lovingly. We can do two things together. THE CURE CANNOT BE WORSE (by far) THAN THE PROBLEM! Congress MUST ACT NOW. We will come back strong!”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday that the economy is definitely being harmed by all the shutdowns. “But if you ask the American people to choose between public health and the economy then it’s no contest,” he said. “No American is going to say ‘accelerate the economy at the cost of human life.’”
Asked whether Trump was putting the economy ahead of people, Baker avoided answering directly. He said it was fortunate the state has an unemployment insurance system that can help people in their time of need, but he said public officials have to prevent the spread of the disease.