The U.S. Senate is mulling another coronavirus aid package after House Democrats passed a $3 trillion relief bill last week, but Wisconsin senators are split in their support.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not in a hurry to approve more funding, telling reporters that lawmakers should be reviewing what has been spent, what is working, and what needs to be fixed.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, agrees. He told Wisconsin Public Radio's "The Morning Show" on Thursday that Congress has already authorized more than enough money through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act — also known as the CARES Act — and follow-up measures that make up a $2.9 trillion response.
"We've probably spent, probably no more than $900 billion of that $2.9 trillion, so we still haven't spent $2 trillion," said Johnson. "I for the life of me can't understand why you'd want to authorize another $3 trillion."
The $3 trillion proposal approved by House Democrats would provide $1 trillion for state, local and tribal governments in addition to more direct payments of up to $6,000 per family and $75 billion for coronavirus testing.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, said she's worried about Republican lawmakers' resistance to further funding. She told the "The Morning Show" on Thursday that she hears daily from Wisconsinites who are struggling.
"There are a lot of issues that have not been resolved ... or even addressed in the previous CARES Act and other actions taken," said Baldwin.
She highlighted a need to increase the availability of food stamps for those who are unemployed or can't afford food, as well as increase aid to state and local governments.
"We are seeing cities needing to look at laying off, furloughing employees who would be considered essential employees right now," she said. "We can't have these basic services stopped."
However, Johnson said more time is needed to evaluate the CARES Act and improve future relief efforts, saying everyone knew the initial aid package would be "far from perfect." He added that some businesses are requesting more flexibility with the use of loans issued through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
"I would, in general, be supportive of that," said Johnson. "But if we're going to plus up and put more money in the PPP program, I surely want to make sure that we direct it to those businesses that truly need it and don't continue to flood money to businesses that are quite honestly doing quite fine."
According to the USA Today, around 400 publicly traded companies received about $1.3 billion under the program, funds that were meant to aid small businesses.
While some Republican senators voice support for reviewing existing relief, others feeling pressure at home are pushing for McConnell to take up another aid package. U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado running for reelection this year, said in a tweet that "anyone who thinks now is the time to go on recess hasn't been listening."
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine also tweeted that Congress has "tremendous responsibility to help mitigate the impact of this crisis" on communities.
The Senate was scheduled to adjourn for the Memorial Day recess on Thursday.