But McSally said in a tweet that no senator should get a paycheck if they cannot come together and approve a stimulus package. Bourne said that one thing that both parties have agreed on is the need for an increase in unemployment insurance. He said current proposals call for “an extra emergency payment … which will be fully funded by the federal government, with an expansion of the number of weeks for people to be eligible for unemployment insurance.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the floor Monday that the bill “has moved in a direction we’ve outlined” on unemployment insurance. “The original bill had the unexpanded employment benefits last only three months, we need to make it longer because the dislocation caused by this crisis will not be over in 90 days and people who lose their jobs need help,” Schumer said.
Five Republican senators were not present, at least three of whom were staying away out of concerns over the coronavirus. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he is under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 while Utah Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, both Republicans, were self-quarantining after close contact with Paul. Bourne said if the bill included more flexibility for households and working families “relative to the amount that Republicans want to be sent to large businesses,” and more controls on how corporations can spend the funds, then Democrats would likely vote for it. Despite the challenges in pushing a bill through the Senate, Bourne said he thinks a package will have to be passed eventually, as markets have been in a freefall in recent weeks and higher unemployment is looming. But even if they agree on a stimulus bill, Bourne said the bigger challenge remains the underlying health issue. “You can provide all the relief you like, but people aren’t going to start going out to restaurants again, in meaningful numbers or start getting using airlines again, or anything else until the public health issue is dealt with in some way,” he said. For more stories from Cronkite News, visit cronkitenews.azpbs.org.
If the Senate can’t come together in a time of great need, no Senator should receive a paycheck—like millions of Americans. If the urgent COVID-19 relief package fails again, I’m introducing a bill immediately to withhold Senators’ pay until Americans are put before politics.— Martha McSally (@SenMcSallyAZ) March 23, 2020
Note: This story originally appeared on Cronkite News and is published via a Creative Commons license. Cronkite News is produced by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.