Sen. Cory Gardner threatened Wednesday to block the Senate from leaving for Memorial Day recess, citing the need to pass coronavirus legislation.
When asked whether he would object to the Senate leaving, the Colorado Republican replied: “if they try to make a unanimous consent, you bet.” The move could prompt the Senate to take a roll call vote on whether to leave.
“We have an opportunity to perfect the Paycheck Protection Program, and to pass legislation to help infrastructure, to create stimulus jobs, economic opportunity, we should be doing everything we can to accomplish that,” he said. “We need to get the job done.”
The Senate is expected to leave Thursday for a week-long recess and return to Washington on June 1.
Gardner, who faces a tough re-election this year, voiced his frustrations with the absence of congressional action on coronavirus earlier Wednesday on Twitter, saying that it was “unfathomable” for the Senate to go home without considering more coronavirus relief legislation.
Among the measures Gardner is pushing for are changes to the Paycheck Protection Program, the Small Business Administration’s lifeline for small businesses, and a proposal with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) under which the government would subsidize business’ payrolls during the pandemic.
Gardner said he also contacted the White House Wednesday.
When asked about Gardner’s threat, Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) responded: “that will be interesting.”
“I’m not sure — I just haven’t thought about how we’d handle that if that happens,” Thune said.
Gardner’s threat comes after Senate Democrats have spent weeks criticizing Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for convening the Senate but not moving forward yet on another rescue package. McConnell and many members of the GOP caucus have instead insisted on a wait and see approach, noting that money allocated in previous rescue packages has yet to be fully doled out. The House passed a $3 trillion coronavirus bill last week without Republican or White House input.
“The problem is, we don’t even have all the money out the door yet,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas.) “I’m not saying there needs to be any sort of artificial delay but we got some lessons to learn from the first go round like don’t pay people more not to work than they earn working. That’s just a mistake. So I have no doubt we’ll pass another one.”