Brown, Portman Talk Next Steps in Federal COVID-19 Response

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — The federal government is in the process of sending out checks to most Americans as part of the stimulus package responding to the economic fallout of the coronavirus. U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) talk about some of the next steps they’d like to see from Congress.

As the $2.2 trillion stimulus package is starting to go into effect around the country, Brown says it’s time for Congress to increase wages by $13 an hour for “essential” workers. This would be capped at $25,000 for the year. He says these are people who can face even higher anxiety as they go to work.

“You know you’re working under that kind of pressure and those people should get some kind of a ‘hero’s bonus’ what we’re calling it for pandemic pay. Because they are exposing themselves to a situation that most of the rest of us aren’t,” says Brown.

Portman says he hasn’t seen Brown’s proposal but does think they should consider way to “hold these workers up.”

Portman says it’s important to see how the current stimulus package works before adding to it, but believes there’s merit in an infrastructure package down the road.

“That won’t affect the economy right now but it will be important as the economy gets back in business when you can open doors again and get going again to have some stimulus like that we’re you’re spending money that creates job, that creates economic activity, and economic benefit,” Portman says.

Portman is also trying to build support for his proposal to allow Congress to meet in session and cast votes remotely. He says the measure would help members of the U.S. House and Senate continue to practice social distancing while continuing their work. Portman adds that this proposal would be under a limited time frame and needs support from both Republicans and Democrats.