- Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Once leadership in both parties reached a deal Wednesday, the drive to vote on the bill nearly derailed as four conservative Republicans warned that the legislation could give workers in low-wage jobs incentives to stay unemployed instead of returning to work. The other senators involved in the effort were Rick Scott (R-FL), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Tim Scott (R-SC).
However, they backed down after a vote to modify the provision failed, more concerned about the economy spiraling out of control.
- Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Johnson outlined his concerns with the stimulus package last Friday in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. His message was simple: while limiting the spread of coronavirus and helping laid-off workers was good, free money is not the answer.
The Wisconsin Republican explicitly opposed a multibillion-dollar package providing paid sick and family leave for Americans while simultaneously offering free testing for the coronavirus and strengthening unemployment insurance.
He proposed an alternative of getting cash to people unable to work for the time being by using state unemployment systems, with the federal government covering the cost of the supplemental benefits. Two Democrats supported the Johnson amendment (Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona). Three Republicans opposed it (Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska).
Ultimately, Johnson voted for the relief package without his changes.
- Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Throughout the debate over coronavirus relief, Senator Sanders was a consistent thorn in the side of Senate Republicans. A disagreement over unemployment insurance between Sanders and Republicans yesterday keep stocks from holding on to their earlier gains. The market had surged up to 6% by early Wednesday afternoon, only to recede after reports the stimulus bill faced more potential delays. Sanders’ obstinance came despite the bill having a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance.
Despite lambasting the legislation as “corporate welfare,” Sanders eventually relented, saying in an online video, “This stimulus package is obviously not a bill that I, or anyone in the progressive community, would have written. There is much in there that I dislike. Very much. And equally important, there is much that is not in it that should be in it.”
However, even he acknowledged that since Donald Trump is president and Republicans have a majority in the U.S. Senate, the vast majority of his ideas aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
- Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Although she voted for the coronavirus relief bill, Sen. Warren says it remains “insufficient” to respond to the pandemic.
“This is not the bill I wanted, but its immediate investments are vital,” the Massachusetts progressive tweeted late Wednesday night. “They are also insufficient. We will need to do more – and soon.”
Like Sanders, Warren is particularly concerned about the portion of the bill dedicated to big businesses affected by social distancing. Republicans mollified most Democrats after adding new accountability and transparency provisions in the final bill. For her part, Warren says the government must go further.
Here’s what the coronavirus lockdown means in each state: