A number of Republican Senators are facing close re-election races this fall, and GOP strategists are hoping that emphasizing their role in passing the COVID-19 economic stimulus this spring will help ensure voters that the incumbents have their best interest in mind.
According to The Washington Post, Kevin McLaughlin, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that governors were receiving more credit than members of Congress for COVID-related actions and recovery measures for public health and the economy.
“The numbers are good for our folks, but they are not as great as they are for the governors,” said McLaughlin. “So it’s important for our candidates to be out there beating their own chest and subtly and respectfully reminding people what the United States Senate did, and Congress did, to help out Americans through this tough time.”
Republican leaders tried to help those running for re-election in September by proposing a pared-down version of the COVID-19 stimulus bill that Congress passed in the pandemic’s early days. However, the bill ultimately fell short of the 60 votes needed to move past a filibuster and advance the bill further in the Senate.
The vote was 52-47, falling mostly along partisan lines. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky voted with Democrats to block the bill, and Sen. Kamala Harris missed the vote because she was campaigning after being named Joe Biden’s running mate.
Democrats held firm that the $300 billion offered by Republicans was not close enough to the $3 trillion they say is needed, which effectively shut down negotiations when neither side wanted to budge.
“It’s a sort of a dead-end street, and very unfortunate,” said Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas told The Associated Press. “But it is what it is.”
The stalemate sent Senators like Susan Collins, Lindsay Graham, and Cory Gardner back onto the campaign trail with no answers for voters who are impacted by the pandemic. In races that are already tight, analysts worry that they might lose any remaining incumbent advantage.
However, the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg could be just the thing Republicans need to hang onto those seats. If a conservative justice is confirmed by the Senate, it could offset negative feelings around inaction on COVID-19 relief.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he plans to hold a vote on the nominee that the Trump administration puts forward, and several Senators in battleground states have pledged to support the nomination process.
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