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Another Republican Senator Quarantined

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) joins an ever-growing list of US Senators who have either tested positive for the Coronavirus or have gone into a precautionary 14-day self quarantine.  His office made the announcement Sunday afternoon on Twitter.

Unfortunately, after being tested, but before learning the results of the test, Sen. Paul was apparently out in public and even visited the Senate gym, drawing the attention of Senators from both sides of the aisle.  One noteworthy response came from Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) who issued a stinging rebuke on her Twitter page.  Paul’s office later disputed the tweet from Seung Min Kim which Sinema quoted, saying that Paul left the Senate immediately upon learning of his diagnosis.  What is notably absent from the response are any details about Paul’s movements in the time between taking the tests and when he learned the results.

Paul, who actually tested positive for the virus, joined the ranks of Senators who have already gone into self quarantine.  Currently both Romney and Lee from Utah, Cory Gardner from Colorado and Florida’s Rick Scott are in self quarantine.  All Republicans.  Clearly, the absence of these Senators presents a challenge to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans to gain passage of the various Coronavirus relief bills.

The Senate currently has no provision in either the Constitution or Senate Rules for remote voting.  The President took note of this in his press briefing Sunday evening wondering aloud if something might be done to allow these quarantined Senators to vote.  However, to do so would require a change in the Senate Rules on either a temporary or permanent basis.  Two Senators, one from both parties, have drafted remote voting resolutions. Under the current circumstances, Senate Democrats are unlikely to go along with any rule changes to allow remote voting. With the absence of these Republican Senators, there aren’t enough Republicans left in the Senate to even pass a measure by a simple majority.  The current balance is 48R – 47D.

That being the case, Democrats have proven to be opportunists.  Sensing an opening in the fortuitous lack of a Republican majority in the Senate, and needing no Republican votes to pass measures out of the House, both Senate and House Democrats have ramped up their calls for adding a number of provisions to the bill which have long been the pet causes for the left.

For example, after Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated that “we are trying to get things done,” it became more clear that what Senate Democrats were “trying to get done” were additions to the relief bill of what one senior Republican aide called an “ideological wish list” including new collective bargaining powers for unions, higher fuel emissions standards for airlines, and expanded wind and solar tax credits.  Leader McConnell immediately pounced on these requests as “unrelated policy issues.”

Other policy demands apparently surfaced as Speaker Nancy Pelosi returned to Washington after the recent House recess.  Politico reporter John Bresnahan confirmed this move on Sunday.

In addition, The Hill reported that House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) bluntly stated that “This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

So, what conclusions should the American public reach while we anxiously await some action, any action, by the government to stop the economic bleeding caused by the continuing march of the Coronavirus?  Are Republicans too focused on bailing out big business or are Democrats latching onto the need for a relief bill to finally gain approval of some of their favorite ideological causes?  More and more, it appears that Democrats are clinging firmly to Rahm Emanuel’s mantra of “you never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

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