COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)– Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown (D) and Rob Portman (R) agree another COVID-19 relief bill needs to be passed and signed into law very soon.
“We have to act on it now,” Portman emphasized. “I think there’s an opportunity next week to get something done.”
Wednesday at a press conference, President Donald Trump suggested that Republicans “go for the much higher numbers” on a coronavirus aid proposal. Brown says he is hopeful the push from the President will encourage Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to listen.
“I don’t think Mitch McConnell and most of my republican colleagues are getting out and talking much to people. They’re not seeing the pain people are feeling. Otherwise, we would have already passed the $600 a week unemployment extension,” Brown said.
Senator Rob Portman agrees a bipartisan bill needs to be passed as soon as possible with more funding for small businesses, unemployment assistance, schools, and the healthcare industry, but thinks the $600 a month in unemployment insurance should be cut to $300.
“It shouldn’t be at the $600 level because, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, 80% of the people would make more on unemployment than they would at work, so $600 is a little high, but $300 is what the President had put in place administratively, what was in the legislation last week that was introduced and voted on,” Portman added. “And that is probably about right for Ohio median income workers will get about 90% of their wages but not 100 and some percent.”
The legislation Portman is referring to was was blocked by Democrats who said a package needed to be much larger.
Also on Wednesday, Trump urged his fellow Republicans in a tweet to support a larger COVID relief bill that would include his priority of $1,200 stimulus checks for most Americans. Brown and Portman say they support that as part of the relief package.
“I think it’s probably a part of a compromised package. I think the $1,200 that was done last time would probably be replicated again because that can be done very quickly,” Portman said. “I think that’s part of any package that ends up being negotiated, and I would be supportive of that as part of a broader package.”
“The $1,200 per person is a good thing. It goes only [to] moderate income and lower income people, but the most important thing is the $600 a week for unemployed workers,” Brown stated.