Sen. Ron Johnson says he’d support a vaccine mandate for an ‘incredibly deadly’ virus but not COVID-19, which has killed more than 613,000 Americans

ron johnson covid
Sen. Ron Johnson said Friday that he would only support a vaccine mandate for an “incredibly deadly” disease, but not COVID-19.

  • GOP Sen. Ron Johson said he would support a vaccine mandate only for an “incredibly deadly” disease but not COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 has killed more than 613,000 people in the US and more than 4.2 million globally, per Johns Hopkins University.
  • Johnson also attacked the CDC for changing its guidelines on masking.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, said he would support a vaccine mandate for an “incredibly deadly disease,” but said he would not support such a mandate for COVID-19.

“No,” Johnson said during a Friday evening appearance on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” when asked whether he would ever support any sort of vaccine mandate. “Not unless there’s some incredibly deadly disease. I mean much higher infection-fatality rates than we have with COVID.”

“We don’t know the final infection-fatality rate, but right now it’s looking like it’s not going to be much more than double a bad season of flu,” he added.

Scientists believe that the mortality rate of COVID-19 is “substantially higher” than strains of the seasonal flu, according to Johns Hopkins University. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were about 34,000 deaths in the United States from flu-related causes in the 2018-2019 flu season.

COVID-19, which emerged in late 2019, has so far killed more than 613,000 people in the US and more than 4.2 million people across the globe, according to data analyzed by Johns Hopkins University. More than 34 million cases of the disease have been diagnosed in the US since the disease was first diagnosed in the US early last year.

New cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from the disease declined with the rollout of the vaccines earlier this year, but the disease is facing a resurgence in the US as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads.

While vaccinated people can contract and spread the Delta variant, experts and data suggest the vaccines prevent serious illness and death. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, earlier this month called the ongoing surge a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Over the past week, vaccine mandates have become more commonplace as cases of the disease rise. Still, Walensky said Friday there would be no federal vaccine mandate for Americans, Reuters reported.

Major US companies, including Walmart and Disney, announced this week that they’d require some of their US employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. President Joe Biden this week announced all federal workers needed to be fully vaccinated or undergo regular testing.

Also in the interview Friday, Johnson lashed out at CDC after it changed its guidance this week on the wearing of face masks

“The American public is losing faith in our federal health agencies – and that’s a real shame,” Johnson said. “If there’s one part of government, other than the Defense Department, you’d like to have faith in, it’d be the federal health agencies — and they’ve lost the trust of the American public.

“Because they’re not making any sense,” he added. “They’re flip-flopping on issues, whether it’s masks, they’re not backing up their pronouncements with science.”

The agency said this week that vaccinated individuals should mask up in areas with a high level of COVID-19, backtracking on its guidance from May that said fully vaccinated people could take their masks off in most settings.

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Sen. Ron Johnson mouths to GOP group that climate change is ‘bullsh–‘ just weeks before deadly heat wave

Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican.
Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican.

  • Ron Johnson mouthed to a GOP luncheon that climate change is “bullsh–,” CNN reported.
  • His comments came weeks before a fatal heat wave in the Pacific Northwest that scientists attributed to climate change.
  • Johnson has a long record of rejecting facts or making comments at odds with science on climate change.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin called climate change “bullsh–” during a GOP luncheon in early June, just weeks before a heat wave claimed dozens of lives in the Pacific Northwest. Scientists have linked the historic high temperatures to climate change.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I think climate change is – as Lord Monckton said – bullsh–,” Johnson said during the Republican Women of Greater Wisconsin Luncheon at Alioto’s in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, in comments caught on video and first reported by CNN. “By the way, it is.”

Johnson – who referred to Lord Christopher Monckton, a climate skeptic who has held positions in the British government and press – did not actually say “bullsh–” out loud, but mouthed the word.

The Wisconsin senator defended himself in comments to CNN, rejecting the notion that he’s a climate change denier.

“My statements are consistent. I am not a climate change denier, but I also am not a climate change alarmist. Climate is not static. It has always changed and always will change,” Johnson said.

The world’s top scientists say that climate change is real and caused by human activities. In short, Johnson’s comments are not backed up by science.

Johnson further defended himself on Twitter, writing, “I do not share Rep. Ocasio-Cortez view that the ‘world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.’ Or POTUS saying the ‘greatest threat’ to U.S. security is climate change. I consider those to be extreme positions – to say the least.”

The Wisconsin Republican was referencing remarks made by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York in January 2019. Ocasio-Cortez has said she did not mean the world would literally end in 12 years, and was referencing a United Nations report that said humans only had a dozen years to change their behavior and avoid a climate change catastrophe.

Johnson also dismissed President Joe Biden’s comments on the national security threat posed by climate change, which have been backed up by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.

“Climate change is going to impact natural resources, for example,” Milley said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in June. “It’s going to impact increased instability in various parts of the world. It’s going to impact migrations, and so on.”

Johnson has a long record of making statements at odds with science and denying that climate change is a product of human activities. In 2010, for example, Johnson falsely said Greenland only recently froze and erroneously suggested it was named for its previously green landscapes.

Watch a video of Johnson’s remarks on climate change at the GOP luncheon last month, which occur around the 52-minute mark:

WI Senior US Senator Ron Johnson Speech June 5, 2021 from on Vimeo.

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Sen. Ron Johnson, who stalled the passing of Juneteenth as a federal holiday, was booed at an event commemorating the day

Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican.
Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican.

  • GOP Sen. Ron Johnson stalled the passing of making Juneteenth a holiday.
  • He conceded his efforts on Tuesday and the effort unanimously passed in the Senate.
  • On Saturday, June 19, he was booed at an event commemorating the holiday in Wisconsin.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Ron Johnson was booed at an event celebrating Juneteenth in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Saturday, WDJT reported.

A bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday unanimously passed in the Senate on Tuesday, but only made it through after Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin ended his efforts to block it.

Johnson said it would be too costly to give federal employees another day off, but conceded on Tuesday and said few of his colleagues wanted to debate the idea.

June 19th, or Juneteenth, is commemorated by many Black Americans as an independence day that celebrates the day that Union soldiers informed the last enslaved African Americans that the Emancipation Proclamation had established their freedom. It was signed by President Abraham Lincoln two years earlier.

Read more: How Biden’s chances of receiving Communion are in jeopardy because of his abortion stance

WDJT reported that Johnson was also heckled by a crowd while speaking to reporters.

“We don’t need you out here,” one person can be heard saying about Johnson in a video of the event.

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MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell says he ‘never even watched footage’ of the Capitol insurrection and believes ‘it was a setup’

mike lindell trump
US President Donald Trump listens as Michael J. Lindell, CEO of MyPillow Inc., speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 30, 2020.

  • Mike Lindell denied ever witnessing the Capitol insurrection and claimed it was a “setup.”
  • “I’ve never even watched footage of that,” he told Rolling Stone in a recent interview.
  • Lindell joins a growing chorus of Republicans who have downplayed the deadly riot.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell in a new interview published Monday denied ever witnessing the January 6 Capitol insurrection and claimed it was a “setup.”

When asked about the deadly riot, Lindell told Rolling Stone magazine: “I’ve never even watched footage of that.”

“But in my opinion it was a setup,” he continued. “I’ve been to over 50 rallies … There has never been one incident. And you don’t think it was a setup? Gimme a break.”

Lindell joins several other Trump allies who have sought to downplay the insurrection or spread falsehoods about it. GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has previously said the Capitol riot “didn’t seem like an armed insurrection” and has falsely described it as a “peaceful protest.” He most recently reiterated that stance during a Fox News appearance on Sunday.

Widely circulated video footage and photos of the Capitol on January 6 show large numbers of apparent Trump supporters rioting, constructing a gallows on the complex, holding zip ties, and attacking police officers. Federal investigators have charged 521 people so far in connection with the riot.

Former President Donald Trump has been widely accused of inciting the insurrection after he rallied his supporters to protest the 2020 election results based on lies that the race was stolen from him. Lindell, a staunch ally of Trump’s, has repeatedly pushed his false claims about the election.

Congressional Republicans last month voted to block the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol insurrection. Trump had been against the bill.

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Michael Fanone, an officer assaulted in the Capitol riot, met with Sen. Ron Johnson over January 6 commission and ‘let him have it,’ report says

Ron Johnson
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin).

  • The Senate was expected to vote Thursday on establishing a commission to study the Capitol riot.
  • Sen. Ron Johnson had a tense meeting with Capitol Police officer Michael Fanone ahead of the vote, CNN reported.
  • Johnson said in a statement he thanked Fanone but that he still doesn’t support a commission.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Capitol Police officer Michael Fanone met with Republican Sen. Ron Johnson ahead of the Senate’s vote on the January 6 commission.

Fanone was one of the police officers defending the Capitol when a pro-Trump mob breached the building, attacking officers and forcing lawmakers to evacuate. Video obtained by CNN showed the moment Fanone was assaulted. Prosecutors said Fanone was shot with a stun gun, beaten with a flagpole, and had a heart attack.

Fanone has been vocal about the violence he experienced that day, saying he had PTSD as a result. He has also criticized Republicans who have tried to downplay the day’s events.

On Thursday, the Senate was expected to vote on a bill that would establish a commission to study the events of January 6. Ahead of the expected vote, Fanone met with Johnson and “let him have it,” sources familiar with the meeting told CNN.

The outlet reported the meeting was tense and included a discussion of Johnson’s comments about the riot, which he referred to as “by and large a peaceful protest” last week. ABC reported Fanone said he was exhausted after having to relive the events of the insurrection on Thursday.

The Wisconsin senator also met with the family of Brian Sicknick – the Capitol Police officer who had a stroke and died one day after being confronted by rioters at the Capitol – including Sicknick’s mother, Gladys Sicknick, and his longtime partner, Sandra Garza.

Gladys Sicknick told reporters on Thursday she came to the Capitol to urge lawmakers to vote in favor of the January 6 commission, adding that she “couldn’t stay quiet anymore.”

Following the meetings, Johnson released a statement saying he “respectfully disagreed on the added value of the proposed commission” but that he committed to “doing everything I could to ensure all their questions will be answered.”

He also said he thanked Fanone and expressed his “strong support for law enforcement.”

Most Senate Republicans have said they do not support the commission, arguing it should include other unrelated incidents of political violence. A few Republican senators have indicated they are going to support the bill, including Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

The House passed the bill last week, with 35 House Republicans voting in favor of it.

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Anti-maskers and COVID deniers have been yelling about ‘freedom’ since the pandemic began. Now many of them are standing in the way of America’s actual freedom.

anti mask man cutout protest
A ‘Hazardous Liberty! Defend the Constitution!’ rally to protest the stay-at-home order in Olympia, Washington.

  • Science deniers and anti-maskers have been crying about “freedom” for the length of the pandemic.
  • Now the US has a real chance at freedom through the vaccines.
  • But some of those same science deniers are morphing into anti-vaxxers and stopping America from getting back to normal.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

America’s anti-maskers have become America’s anti-vaxxers.

Their argument against these common-sense precautions is personal freedom. The only problem with this logic, or lack thereof, is that their claims to freedom are causing the rest of us to lose ours.

It would be nice to be able to dine inside with no worry, go to the movies in a packed theater, or enjoy any of the other freedoms we enjoyed before the pandemic. But that will be impossible to do with the threat of COVID – unless we reach a certain threshold of the population who are vaccinated, probably around 80%. Who is preventing us from reaching that threshold? The 1 in 4 Americans who say they’ll refuse to get vaccinated.

Cat scratch fever

You’ve heard GOP Rep. Jim Jordan pounding the table, asking when we’re going to live our lives again. In a recent congressional hearing with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Jordan demanded to know the precise moment the world will be back to normal and harangued the infectious disease specialist about basic safety measures. By undermining Dr. Fauci, Jordan is in turn undermining our efforts to get back to normal. As Dr. Fauci expressed, it’s a paradox that Republicans legislators simply cannot seem to wrap their minds around.

You’ve heard Sen. Ron Johnson talk double-talk on vaccines. He asked “what is the point” of getting vaccinated, undermining our attempts to reach herd immunity. By spewing this inane rhetoric, he’s all but ensuring that some followers of his in Wisconsin remain unvaccinated and get COVID.

Studies show that many vaccine-hesitant folks are in a ‘wait-and-see’ pattern and aren’t completely writing off the vaccine. A positive pronouncement from their trusted elected officials or a celebrity they admire could make a world of difference. But instead of that, we get people like Jordan, Johnson, and faded rockstar Ted Nugent.

I’ll admit, I had a moment of schadenfreude when Nugent got COVID and whined about how bad it was. He said “it was really scary” and that he “didn’t know if [he] was gonna make it.” And, of course, he is right. COVID is scary, and nearly 600,000 of his fellow citizens weren’t as lucky as he and didn’t make it. But he remains a poster child of all “freedom-loving” COVID-deniers: anti-mask, anti-vax and making the country suffer as a result.

Former President Donald Trump, afraid to offend the faux-freedom lovers, got his vaccine in secret and waited two months to reveal it. He clearly knows that the vaccine will protect him and that his words carry a lot of weight with his MAGA disciples, up to 40% of whom don’t want a shot. But instead of shouting about the success of the vaccines and winning over his supporters, Trump doesn’t seem to care if his followers have the same protection that the vaccine provides.

The tone these guys and their brethren have set from the beginning has prolonged the crisis. Fewer masks meant more contamination. If everyone masked, fewer people would have died. And fewer vaccines prolongs the threat of COVID for everyone.

Faux freedom

Even as more and more folks around the world get the vaccine, new COVID variants continue to emerge in unvaccinated communities. The vaccines have stayed ahead of the variants – at least for now. But if we don’t reach herd immunity soon we could find ourselves with a variant that has outsmarted the vaccine, which could lead to another lockdown.

If everyone eligible got the vaccine, we could all get our lives back as soon as Jim Jordan wants. But the “freedom” from the vaccine that the right wing clamors for could allow variants to stick around, mutate and deprive all of us again. So instead, we may have to fight variants, hunt for boosters, and mask endlessly.

In pandemics past, vaccines were the key to how our country returned to normal. There is, after all, a reason no one has contracted polio in the United States since 1979. But that didn’t happen in a vacuum. Public health officials, politicians, celebrities and everyday teenagers all teamed up to make the vaccine accessible, normal, and even “cool.” Everyone got together, and before long, polio epidemics were no more.

Today, that seems all but impossible — not in the era of alt-right cable news and the politicians mugging for that audience. I’m not the first to say it, but instead of science leading us all to health and safety, the faux-freedom lovers are causing the rest of us to lose our freedom.

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GOP Sen. Ron Johnson falsely claimed Greenland only recently froze and now admits he has ‘no idea’ about its history

ron johnson stimulus checks
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

  • In an attempt to undermine climate science, GOP Sen. Ron Johnson falsely claimed that Greenland was named for its once-green landscapes.
  • Johnson admitted to The New York Times last week that he had “no idea” how Greenland got its name.
  • Johnson has rejected the science proving that climate change is overwhelmingly caused by human activity.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In an attempt to undermine climate science, Sen. Ron Johnson falsely claimed in 2010 that Greenland – a largely ice-covered island – was named for its once-green landscapes.

Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, admitted to The New York Times last week that he had “no idea” how Greenland got its name.

“You know, there’s a reason Greenland was called Greenland,” Johnson told Madison news outlet WKOW-TV in 2010. “It was actually green at one point in time. And it’s been, you know, since, it’s a whole lot whiter now so we’ve experienced climate change throughout geologic time.”

In reality, Erik Thorvaldsson, a Viking settler also known as Erik the Red, gave Greenland a misleading name in the hopes of attracting Europeans to the island. The Danish territory has been covered in ice and glaciers for at least 2.5 million years.

“I could be wrong there, but that’s always been my assumption that, at some point in time, those early explorers saw green,” Johnson told The Times last week. “I have no idea.”

Some of those who deny the scientific consensus on climate change spread the myth that ice ages and warm periods between them prove that the global warming the Earth is currently experiencing is natural. Johnson has repeatedly rejected the science proving that climate change is overwhelmingly caused by human activity. He’s falsely claimed that global warming is caused by sunspots and that there’s nothing humans can do to reverse the phenomenon.

“If you take a look at geologic time, we’ve had huge climate swings,” Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a 2010 interview. “I absolutely do not believe that the science of man-caused climate change is proven, not by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or something just in the geologic eons of time where we have changes in the climate.”

He went on, “The Middle Ages was an extremely warm period in time too, and it wasn’t like there were tons of cars on the road.”

Johnson also claimed that attempting to reverse climate change is a “fool’s errand” that would wreck the economy.

“I don’t think we can do anything about controlling what the climate is,” he said.

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GOP Sen. Ron Johnson said he never felt threatened during the Capitol riot, but that he would have been concerned if it was Black Lives Matter protesters

capitol police 2
Police officers in riot gear struggle to keep a Trump mob from entering the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

  • Sen. Ron Johnson said he “knew” during the Capitol riot that the mob were law-abiding citizens.
  • He said he would’ve been concerned if they had been Black Lives Matter or antifa protesters.
  • 315 Capitol rioters have been arrested and 140 police officers were injured during the attack.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said he did not feel threatened during the Capitol riot on January 6, but that he would have felt differently if the group had been Black Lives Matter protesters.

Johnson, a Republican, was speaking during a radio interview that aired Friday on the conservative talk show, The Joe Pags Show. He repeated a statement he has made in the past that he “never felt threatened” on January 6, when a pro-Trump mob took seige of the Capitol, prompting lawmakers to evacuate.

“I knew those were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned,” Johnson said.

Five people died as a result of the riot, including a Capitol police officer.

So far, law enforcement have arrested more than 315 people at the riot on charges that include assaulting an officer, violent entry, and entering a restricted building with a deadly or dangerous weapon.

About 140 police officers were injured during the riot, according to the head of the Capitol Police union. One officer, Brian Sicknick, died of injuries he sustained during the attack.

“Had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election, and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned,” Johnson said, acknowledging that the remark could get him “in trouble.”

Conservatives have frequently drawn a false equivalence between Black Lives Matter protesters and antifa, which is a separate political movement based on anti-fascism ideology, though some people who align with antifa did take part in racial justice protests last year.

Last summer saw the most civil rights protests in a generation, and in the thousands of demonstrations that took place following the death of George Floyd, some turned into violent riots with looting and property destruction.

However, an analysis by the US Crisis Project found 93% of the racial justice protests that occurred over the summer were peaceful protests. The report identified more than 2,400 locations at which peaceful protests took place, while violent demonstrations occurred in only 220 locations.

Some people on Twitter called Johnson’s remark racist, including Joe Walsh, another conservative talk show host and former GOP representative from Illinois.

“I got elected with Ron Johnson. I liked Ron Johnson. I don’t know who the hell this Ron Johnson is. This is ugly. This is wrong. This is racist,” Walsh tweeted, along with an audio clip.

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Republicans move to drag out debate on the Biden $1.9 trillion stimulus to slow down its passage

Ron Johson
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

  • Republicans sought to drag out the proceedings on the Democratic stimulus bill on Thursday.
  • Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin forced a reading of the 628-page relief legislation on the Senate floor.
  • Democrats brushed aside the reading as a political stunt, and aim to pass the bill sometime this week.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Senate voted along party lines to kick off debate on the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan on Thursday afternoon. 

But Republicans appear intent on dragging out the proceedings to make it as painful as possible on Democrats advancing the measure without GOP support.

The protracted debate could mean Senate passage of the bill could slip sometime into the weekend. Democrats are racing to enact the bill before a March 14 deadline when enhanced unemployment insurance will expire.

Shortly after the vote, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin objected to a motion that would dispense with a reading of the legislation. The move set up a reading of the 628-page bill by Senate clerks, which could take several hours.

“If they’re going to add nearly $2T to the national debt at least we should know what’s in the bill,” the Wisconsin senator wrote in a tweet. 

For at least two hours on Thursday afternoon, Johnson was present in the Senate chamber. He occasionally took notes on a legal pad as clerks read the relief legislation aloud.

The reading was the first step in an apparent GOP bid to slow down passage of the Democratic rescue plan. Democrats are employing a tactic called reconciliation to bypass Republicans and approve the legislation with a simple majority of 51 votes.

Democrats brushed the reading aside, arguing that it amounted to little more than a political stunt.

“We all know this will merely delay the inevitable,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday. “It will accomplish little more than a few sore throats for the Senate clerks, who work very hard, day-in, day-out, to help the Senate function.”

Republicans have been staunchly opposed to the measure, contending the bill costs too much and they had little input into its design.

 “The real tragedy here is not Senate process,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday. “It’s how ill-suited this bill is to what Americans need right now.”

Once the Senate clerks wrap up with the reading, the chamber is expected to start 20 hours of debate. When that concludes, a “vote-a-rama” will get under way.

Republicans are preparing to offer hundreds of amendments to the relief bill. Some of these may deal with the $350 billion in state and local funding, and a push to scale back unemployment benefits. Democrats and Republicans will vote on many of them, but likely not all.

“Historically what’s happened is… we offer a couple of hundred amendments on the Republican side,” Johnson told reporters today. “And we get a couple of dozen voted on and people tire out. I’m coming up with a process that keeps people from tiring out. I’m getting sign ups. I’m laying out a three-shift schedule.”

“I think it’s important for the American people and our Democratic colleagues to recognize that when they’re going to propose spending money that’s not needed and that’s wasteful,” Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters on Thursday. “And they lard up a piece of legislation that we’re not going to just sit back and take it that we’re going to fight back.”

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Senate Democrats advance the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, clearing hurdle as they finalize changes to legislation

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, speaks during a news conference following a virtual Senate Democratic policy luncheon.

  • The Senate voted to advance the $1.9 trillion Biden relief bill along party lines on Thursday.
  • The move kicks off a marathon debate which will likely push final Senate passage into the weekend.
  • Republicans are moving to drag out the proceedings and offer hundreds of amendments to the bill.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Senate voted to advance the $1.9 trillion rescue package on Thursday along party lines, kicking off a lengthy debate that Republicans are moving to drag out. Passage of the bill may slip into the weekend.

Vice President Kamala Harris served as the tie-breaker in the 51-50 vote.  The clock has started on 20 hours of debate, followed by a marathon amendment process called a vote-a-rama.

“No matter how long it takes, the Senate is going to stay in session to finish the bill this week,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday.

But Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin set up a full read-out of the 628-page relief legislation shortly after, which could stretch on for up to ten hours. The task fell upon the chamber’s clerks, and senators wouldn’t be reading the bill.

“We need to keep this process going so we can highlight the abuse – obviously not Covid relief, obviously a boondoggle for Democrats,” Johnson said.

Democrats brushed this aside as a political stunt, and pointed to polls showing strong public support for the package.

“We Democrats want America to hear what’s in the plan,” Schumer said. “And if the senator from Wisconsin wants to read it, let everybody listen because it has overwhelming support.”

ron johnson stimulus checks
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

Legislation changed in Senate en route to party-line vote

Democrats spent much of the past day finalizing changes to the sprawling legislation. The president signed off on Wednesday to tightened eligibility for a round of $1,400 stimulus checks, placing lower income caps to prevent higher-earning Americans from receiving a third direct payment.

The moderate Democrats who led this effort also adjusted the aid formulas for $350 billion in state and local funding.

“I wanted to be sure localities had an ironclad share of the state and local funding,” Sen. Angus King of Maine told reporters on Thursday. “I wanted to be sure that the individual payments were targeted to those most in need.”

The relief package would provide $1,400 stimulus checks for the majority of taxpayers; $400 in federal unemployment benefits through August; $200 billion in funding for schools; $50 billion in virus testing and tracing; and a major revamp of the child tax credit.

Republicans are staunchly opposed to the bill, arguing it is an untargeted piece of legislation full of progressive priorities. Some were supportive of Johnson.

“I would expect a very long night into the next day and keep going on. There’s a lot to still cover,” Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma told Insider. “Obviously we need to read the bill first.”

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