Paul speaks out against coronavirus relief bill, calls for reopening economy
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that he opposes an interim $484 billion coronavirus relief bill — but would not block it — and called for parts of the economy shuttered in order to stem the spread of COVID-19 to be reopened.
“No amount of money, not all the money in China, will save us from ourselves. Our only hope of rescuing this great country is to reopen the economy. If you print up billions of dollars and give it to people, they’re unlikely to spend it until you end the quarantine,” Paul said from the Senate floor.
Paul’s remarks came shortly before the Senate passed the $484 billion relief package, which provided help for small businesses, hospitals and more testing, by a voice vote.
Because lawmakers are currently spread out across the country, Paul could have single-handedly blocked the bill from passing on Tuesday but said he would not because of “hardships” his colleagues would face in returning to Washington in order to vote.
Paul, who tested positive for the coronavirus, was in quarantine when the Senate passed the previous $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package and missed the vote.
“I rise in opposition to spending $500 billion more. The virus bailouts have already cost over $2 trillion. Our annual deficit this year will approach $4 trillion. We can’t continue on this course. No amount of bailout dollars will stimulate an economy that is being strangled by quarantine,” Paul said from the Senate floor on Tuesday.
Part of last month’s bill provided $1,200 checks to individuals who make up to $75,000 a year. But Paul argued that the direct assistance would not boost the broader economy — a view shared broadly by opponents of the provision.
“The massive economic calamity we’re experiencing right now is caused by government. Passing out $1,200 checks indiscriminately to people who haven’t lost their jobs will do nothing to rescue the country,” Paul said. “A recovery only comes when the quarantine has ended.”
Paul’s remarks are the latest from Senate Republicans who are calling for social distancing restrictions that have been put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus to be lifted.
President Trump has also appeared eager for states to begin reopening, though he’s acknowledged that the decision will be made in conjunction with governors and local officials. There are currently more than 816,200 confirmed cases of the coronavirus within the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University, including nearly 44,000 deaths.
Health experts warn that reopening parts of the country closed because of the virus too quickly could lead to a second spike in cases as social distancing measures are scaled back.