Barrasso made the comments one week before Congress is scheduled to return to Washington to start hammering out the next stimulus bill. The bipartisan talks will take place as the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits is set to expire at the end of the month.
“There’s a consensus we need to do another bill, that’ll be in the next couple of weeks,” Barrasso said in an exclusive interview on “Sunday Morning Futures.”
He then explained what he thinks should be included in the “Phase 4” coronavirus stimulus bill.
“It has to focus on getting people back to work and children back in school,” he said, adding that it must also “focus on saving lives.”
“To me, that means more testing, better treatment and then, of course, a vaccine,” Barrasso, who is a doctor, explained.
“Finally, we need to provide the liability insurance for our healthcare workers, for our mom and pop small businesses and for our schools so they can all open in a good way,” he continued.
Barrasso then brought up the fact that the Democratic-controlled House approved a $3 trillion proposal in May, which Senate Republicans deemed dead on arrival. He said the Democrat’s proposal depicts House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “living in handout heaven.”
Pelosi has said priorities for the next round of coronavirus legislation include money to state and local governments, more coronavirus testing, and more direct payments for Americans.
“It’s direct checks to illegal immigrants, it’s bailouts to big city and state pension plans that are run by Democrats,” Barrasso said on Sunday. “We’re not going to do that.”
If legislation comes to fruition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said it would pass this month before lawmakers leave for recess in August.
However, not all Republicans are on the same page. The recent record-breaking June jobs report, which showed the creation of 4.8 million nonfarm payroll positions last month, has caused some lawmakers – like Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy – to question the need for more direct payments.
Barrasso acknowledged on Sunday that the question is if the next round of stimulus should “include additional relief checks for people who have still not been able to get back to work, certainly in hard-hit industries, whether it’s the service industry, the hospitality industry.”
“We did that once before, but that was people up to $95,000, we’re looking at a lower number there,” he continued.
Barrasso noted that there is an “urgency to get this done” because of upcoming deadlines as it pertains to the enhanced unemployment insurance and the Paycheck Protection Program, which he said “has been so successful” and has “helped keep about 50 million people on a payroll.”
Host Maria Bartiromo noted that Congress has another scheduled recess starting on August 8 and asked Barrasso, “Should I assume we will have another stimulus package in that three week period?”
“There is [a] general agreement we need to work to that end and we need to deal with the issues affecting our nation,” he said in response.
“There are still people who can’t go back to work through no fault of their own because of the disease, because of maybe medical conditions.”
“We need to make sure that they are cared for, but we cannot continue to pay people more to sit at home than to go to work and we have so many help wanted signs around Wyoming and the country,” he continued.
“We need to do all we can to get people back to work and help them earn that paycheck,” Barrasso stressed.
Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo and Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.