Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown cut off Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, saying that he would not allow a “political speech” during Tuesday’s hearing on the coronavirus economy.
The exchange grew heated as the two sparred over the Trump administration’s efforts to lessen the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing stay-at-home orders. (RELATED: Democrats Celebrate As Bill Compelling Doctors To Save Newborns Dies In The Senate)
“It’s not safe to reopen the economy until we have worker protections in place that will control the spread of COVID,” Brown began, saying that President Donald Trump had failed to lead on issues such as testing and contact tracing.
“How many workers will die if we send people back to work without the protections they need?” Brown asked.
Mnuchin responded by saying that no one intended to send anyone back into the workplace without laying out safety guidelines and medical advice. He noted that he had been prepared to testify in the Senate wearing a mask if necessary.
“How many workers should give their lives to increase our GDP by half a percent? There is no national program to provide worker safety. The president said to reopen slaughterhouses,” Brown added, asking, “How many workers should give their lives their lives to increase our GDP or the Dow Jones by a thousand points?”
“No workers should give their lives to do that, Mr. Senator, and I think your characterization is unfair,” Mnuchin shot back, explaining that the administration had provided guidelines and equipment.
“Secretary, I’m not going to let you make a political speech about ‘what a great job,’ we hear from the president and his news conferences, but the president has still not lead an effort to scale up testing, he played state after state, state against state and he played hospital against hospital and everyone in the country, your comments notwithstanding, knows that.”
Brown then pivoted to speak with Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell, refusing to give Mnuchin a chance to respond.