Senate Republicans remain skeptical about passing a trillion-dollar phase four coronavirus package before the August recess, as they say Democrats refuse to negotiate.
The Daily Caller spoke to a number of Republican senators about what they believe should be done and what they would like to see in the next stimulus bill. All of them mentioned their concerns about the amount of money that is currently being suggested. Most of the Republicans the Caller spoke with also voiced their displeasure with their party’s own phase 4 legislation.
The HEALS Act, which focuses on health, economic assistance, liability protection, and schools was released July 27 and is a “tailored and targeted draft that will cut right to the heart of three distinct crises facing our country,” according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. However, many Republicans say they do not like the bill.
In an interview with the Daily Caller, Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio shared his concern on a trillion-dollar bill and also criticized Democrats for reportedly refusing to give any concessions in order to come to an agreement on a piece of legislation.
“We have to do something for the economy at large. I don’t like spending a trillion dollars, but I think the alternative is even worse, which is structural, deep damage to our economy that could take a decade or more to recover from and millions of people losing their jobs,” Rubio said to the Caller.
“Now, it’s not going to be the HEROES Act, which has all kinds of things in it that have absolutely nothing to do with the pandemic. It needs to be something that helps people that are looking for jobs and can’t find them right now, helps small business survive, helps protect companies from being sued out of existence, helps develop more testing capability — and hopefully, ultimately, a vaccine — and helps with the extraordinary costs of going back to school in order to make schools safe,” Rubio added.
“We have to do all of that, and we have to get it done soon. I hope we can make some progress and stop playing this political game, back and forth, and finger-pointing, which has become far too common here from my friends on the other side of the aisle, the Democrats,” he continued.
Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott also shared similar concerns in an interview with the Caller and listed off what he would like to see in a phase 4 stimulus package. Scott was also concerned about the amount of spending being considered.
“I think it (the phase 4 legislation) ought to be really targeted, and the targets ought to be the people that have lost their jobs and the small businesses that are struggling or haven’t re-opened. That’s what we ought to be focused on. And, what we shouldn’t be doing is we shouldn’t be bailing out the states, and we shouldn’t be following Pelosi’s and Schumer’s liberal priority list, which was in the HEROES Act. We have to remember that whatever we spend, we’re going to have to collect in future taxes. So, the biggest thing we can do is get the economy opened up, that’s gonna put people in better positions more than anything else,” Scott said.
“I don’t think there’s any question Republicans are for helping the people on unemployment, Republicans are for helping our small businesses, Republicans are helping our schools and our healthcare workers, our businesses with liability protection. Republicans want to help make sure our schools get re-opened, so, what Republicans are against is all the liberal priorities of the Democrats, like Schumer and Pelosi. What they’re against is bailing out states that couldn’t live within their means even before coronavirus,” Scott continued.
When the Caller asked Scott if he actually believes a phase 4 stimulus bill will be passed before the August recess, Scott did not sound optimistic.
“Well, I’m hopeful. But, I’m being realistic. I mean, the Democrats don’t want one, so, I can be hopeful. It’s a fairy tale to believe that they want to get something done. I mean, there’s no action they’ve taken to suggest they want to get something done. To not speak of it, how disingenuous to block a one-week extension of unemployment benefits,” Scott said.
Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley told the Caller that if jobs are not the main focus of the phase 4 legislation, then he will not be voting for it.
“My priority has been the same for months: we have got to get Americans back to work and get folks their jobs back. This is why I proposed my Rehire America plan back in April to get Americans back to work. That’s what I want to see Congress focus on, and if jobs aren’t the focus, I won’t vote for it,” Hawley told the Caller.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Monday that Congress and the White House are nowhere close to reaching a deal on a phase 4 coronavirus stimulus package.
Meadows, who has been spending a lot of time in the Capitol negotiating with lawmakers on another stimulus package, told reporters that there has not been much progress. “We’re so far apart right now that it is not even a valid question,” he said when asked if the White House would consider adding more money to a stimulus package.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has also been leading negotiation efforts on Capitol Hill and said, “We are open to a bigger package if we can reach an agreement.”
More than a dozen Senate Republicans reportedly voiced serious displeasure at signing off on another $1 trillion package at Tuesday’s conference lunch.
Hopes are low that Congress will put a Phase 4 stimulus package on President Donald Trump’s desk before the upcoming August recess, people familiar with the negotiations told the Daily Caller.