4 Republican Senators Call for More Stimulus Payments After McConnell Pumps Brakes on Further Relief

Four Republican Senators are pressing Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to include additional funds for out-of-work Americans and state services in an upcoming coronavirus stimulus bill.

McConnell recently expressed resistance to additional spending during this unprecedented economic downturn to prevent the U.S. debt increase by several trillions of dollars. As of May 20, the U.S. debt is above $25 trillion.

Last Friday, House Democrats passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, a 1,800-page bill that would allocate $1 trillion in state and local aid and provide a second round of stimulus checks to Americans: around $1,200 for individuals and up to $6,000 for families.

But while Democrats are eager to quickly pass the bill through the Republican-led Senate, on May 5, McConnell indicated that Republicans wouldn't rush to create another coronavirus stimulus package until the party's congressional leaders had done a "good job of evaluating what we've already done."

McConnell reiterated his hesitancy to pass additional stimulus funding on May 13 by suggesting the country should "take a pause" on emergency spending bills, adding that the federal government could not "prop the economy up forever."

"In the process of spending about $2.8 trillion, we now have a debt the size of our economy," McConnell said during a Team Trump campaign broadcast. "So I said, and the president has said as well, that we need to take a pause here."

Republican Maine Senator Susan Collins
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) wears a mask while participating in the Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing to examine COVID-19 and Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School on May 12, 2020 in Washington,DC. Win McNamee/POOL/AFP/Getty

However, four Republican Senators are pressuring McConnell to take action sooner.

During a Wednesday speech on the Senate floor, Senator Susan Collins of Maine said that her state's budget shortfalls are threatening vital state and municipal services as well as families during the ongoing epidemic.

"This crisis on our states and our local communities and on the families they serve. We must not wait. We should act now," Collins said.

In a Wednesday tweet, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado called it "unfathomable" that the Senate is preparing to go on a Memorial Day recess without considering additional funding for the epidemic.

"Anyone who thinks now is the time to go on recess hasn't been listening," he wrote.

Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri mentioned that he wanted Republican Senators to "act sooner rather than later" to address the 14.7 percent unemployment rate, according to The Hill.

His proposals include using federal funding to pay 80 percent of business wages so that companies can use cash on hand to pay immediate costs and so they re-start operations quickly with current work staff rather than having to hire and train new employees once states begin reopening.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker of Mississippi said that most Republican Senators actually want to make progress on a relief package even if they don't publicly admit it, according to the Hill. He wants the next stimulus package to include funds for infrastructure to help create jobs.

Democrats have been more critical of McConnell's hesitancy.

On May 19, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted: "Economists are warning inaction could worsen the economic crisis into another Great Depression. Without action—Fed Chair Powell said we risk a prolonged recession with unemployment reaching 20% or even 25%. Yet Sen. McConnell said GOP still wants a pause. What planet are they on?"

Newsweek reached out to McConnell's office for comment. This story will be updated with any response.

4 Republican Senators Call for More Stimulus Payments After McConnell Pumps Brakes on Further Relief | U.S.