(Yahoo News) – With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to rage, and President Trump refusing to concede the election, the nation’s two Democratic leaders in Congress on Thursday scolded Republicans for their reluctance to pass a new COVID-19 relief bill and accept that Joe Biden is now president-elect.
“Stop the circus and get to work on what really matters to the American people,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during a press conference on Capitol Hill. “It is most unfortunate that Republicans have decided that they will not respect the will of the people.”
Pelosi was joined by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who implored the GOP to recognize Biden’s win.
“The election is over,” Schumer said. “Senate Republicans, stop denying reality.”
The U.S. set another daily record with 144,000 new cases reported Wednesday — the ninth straight day of at least 100,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Hospitalizations surpassed 60,000 for the first time, overwhelming hospital systems in rural areas. According to Reuters, the number of Americans hospitalized due to COVID-19 has risen almost 50 percent in the past two weeks.
More than 10 million Americans have been infected, and more than 241,000 have died.
“This is a red alert,” Pelosi said. “But it should have been a long time ago. The president and the Republicans in Congress have ignored by delay, distortion, denial. Deaths have been caused. And what are they doing now? Continuing to ignore in spite of these numbers.”
Pelosi and Schumer urged the GOP to work with them on passing an economic stimulus package to aid in COVID-19 relief before Biden takes office on Jan. 20. Last month, the House passed a revised Heroes Act that included a second stimulus check and additional benefits such as enhanced unemployment benefits for tens of millions of Americans.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to consider it, saying Congress should pass a smaller, more limited stimulus bill, given lowering unemployment rates and encouraging news about a possible vaccine.
Schumer scoffed at McConnell’s rationale.
“A vaccine makes greater need for a bill because it needs to be distributed fairly and equitably, and there needs to be education that it’s healthy and everything else,” he said.
Schumer also argued that Biden’s election amounted to a mandate for Democrats and urged Republicans to accept that reality by working across the aisle.
“This election was maybe more a referendum on who can handle COVID well than anything else,” Schumer said.
“The Donald Trump approach was repudiated. The Joe Biden approach was embraced. And that’s why we feel there’s a better chance to get a bill in the lame duck [period] if only the Republicans would stop embracing the ridiculous shenanigans that Trump is forcing them to in the election and focus on what people need.”