Aug 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

GOP senator says stimulus needs to be as "narrowly focused" on COVID-19 as possible

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said at an Axios virtual event Wednesday that the next coronavirus relief package needs to be as "narrowly focused" on COVID-specific issues as possible in order to resolve the differences between Republicans and Democrats.

Why it matters: Democrats and negotiators from the Trump administration remain far apart on a deal for the next tranche of relief. The fraught negotiations come as millions of Americans continue to suffer from the health and economic effects of the pandemic without the unemployment benefits from the first stimulus bill.

The big picture: Lankford called the $3 trillion bill passed by House Democrats in March a liberal "wish list," arguing that the package should be targeted at vaccines, treatments, schools, small businesses, and providing liability protections to universities and businesses.

  • He pointed out that much like the coronavirus itself, the economic impacts of the pandemic have affected different businesses in different ways.
  • Some, like grocery stores, have seen record revenue, while others, like restaurants and travel companies, have been forced into bankruptcy.

What he's saying: "There shouldn't be a focus on giving everyone 100%. ... We can't do that," Lankford said. "Whatever package we put out next, we should treat it like we treat the virus."

  • "Remember, this is other people's money we're dealing with. This is not just invented money. It's borrowed from the future or it's taken from your next-door neighbor in tax dollars, so let's target it to what we need, in the areas that need it, and not just do a blanket amount to everybody."

What to watch: Lankford said lawmakers hope to reach an agreement in days, not weeks.

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