'Fire them all' — GOP governor rips Congress for inability to reach coronavirus stimulus deal

Key Points
  • Americans would "probably be a little bit better" off if every member of Congress was removed, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu told CNBC on Monday.
  • "No one in the Senate or Congress can say that they've shown leadership on the Covid crisis," Sununu said.
  • "Fire them all. I really mean that sincerely," he said, referring to turning over all 435 House seats and the 100 Senate seats.
'Fire them all' — GOP governor lays into Congress for stimulus gridlock

The Republican governor of New Hampshire on Monday blasted Congress for failing to reach another coronavirus stimulus package to help Americans deal with the fallout from the pandemic.

"Fire them all. I really mean that sincerely," Gov. Chris Sununu said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "No one in the Senate or Congress can say that they've shown leadership on the Covid crisis. What have they done since March? Like literally nothing."

Sununu — who is running for a third, two-year term against Democrat Dan Feltes — said Congress has "made a lot of promises" to respond to the coronavirus pandemic but failed to overcome partisanship to match them with real actions.

"Put it this way: Would the country be better or worse off if you replaced all 535 today?" Sununu said, referring to turning over all 435 House seats and the 100 Senate seats. "I think the odds say we'd probably be a little better because you get the political nonsense out of the picture, all of the things that have just clogged the system up so badly."

Democratic leaders and White House officials have been locked in a stalemate on the latest round of coronavirus negotiations for months, unable to bridge the divide on a number of issues, such as state and local government aid and liability protections for businesses.

More generally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and other Democrats have favored a larger relief package than Republicans, contending the scale of the pandemic requires an equally expansive government response. Republicans have favored a smaller package and criticized Democratic proposals as containing provisions unrelated to the pandemic.

In May, the House approved a $3 trillion aid bill that went nowhere in the GOP-controlled Senate. On Oct. 1, the Democratic-controlled House passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, but it also was not taken up by the Senate.

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Senate Republicans proposed relief legislation that cost about $1 trillion in late July. That largely began the series of on-and-off negotiations that have taken place following the expiration of key provisions to the earlier bipartisan agreement Congress struck in March.

Last week, Senate Republicans tried to advance a $500 billion stimulus bill, but the effort was blocked again by Democrats.

Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has led talks for the Trump administration, have spoken frequently in the past week as the two sides sought to reach an agreement before the Nov. 3 election. While a deal before that deadline seems unlikely, Pelosi said as recently as Thursday she was "optimistic" a deal would be reached eventually.

Representatives for Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on Sununu's remarks.

Sununu said he believes Congress will ultimately reach an accord on a stimulus package after the election, likely in early 2021. The cost will likely be "astronomical" if Democrats win the White House and both the House and Senate, said Sununu, whose father served as New Hampshire's governor in the 1980s. Sununu's brother represented the state in both the U.S. House, from 1997 to 2003, and the Senate, from 2003 to 2009.

In general, though, Sununu said the failure of Congress to set aside ideological differences during the pandemic is further alienating American voters and could have implications in future elections. "I think the people of America are sick and tired of nothing. You've got to manage. You've got to move the ball forward. You have to show leadership in something," he said. "They've done virtually nothing."

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