Mar 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans enter quarantine ahead of critical coronavirus vote

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images.

More Republican senators entered self-quarantine on Sunday after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: The Senate is expected to vote Monday on a $1.8 trillion stimulus package intended to curb the economic impacts of the coronavirus. As of Sunday evening, Democrats in the House and Senate had not yet agreed to back the bill as proposed by Republicans.

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already delayed a cloture vote — which requires 60 votes to advance the bill — on Sunday afternoon after a breakdown in negotiations.
  • With five Republican senators in quarantine and unable to vote, the current party balance in the Senate is 48 Republicans and 47 Democrats.

The following senators are currently in self-quarantine:

  • Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.)
  • Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah)
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

Between the lines: Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have proposed a resolution to move to remote voting, which is currently not possible in the Senate.

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Coronavirus hits Congress

A lone Capitol police officer in an empty corridor of Congress. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

More than a dozen lawmakers have entered voluntary self-quarantine, and more are expected to — seriously testing Speaker Nancy Pelosi's proclamation last week that Congress will be "the last to leave."

Why it matters: The Senate is racing to negotiate a "Phase 3" coronavirus relief package that could top $1 trillion.

Senators threaten to delay coronavirus relief bill with last-minute objections

Sens. Tim Scott, Ben Sasse, Lindsey Graham and Rick Scott. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The prospect of the Senate quickly passing the $2 trillion coronavirus relief deal that congressional leaders struck with the White House hit a speed bump Wednesday after a group of Republican senators demanded an amendment related to unemployment insurance.

The state of play: Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Rick Scott (Fla.) said Wednesday that they would object to fast-tracking the bill over a provision that would grant an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits to low-wage workers who lose their jobs.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump leaves Senate coronavirus meeting without economic relief plan

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump's Tuesday meeting with Senate Republicans on providing economic relief in response to the coronavirus was chaotic and covered a wide range of ideas, leaving many senators unclear on how the government will deal with growing fears that the U.S. is headed for a recession.

Why it matters: Trump and top White House officials left the meeting with no specific policy proposals to implement at time when the economic and public health impacts of virus are worsening by the hour.