Republican senators on Wednesday teamed up to kill an amendment introduced by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray that would have expanded paid sick leave to millions of U.S. workers left out of a bipartisan coronavirus relief package.
Every Republican present for the vote, 51 in total, voted against the amendment while every Senate Democrat voted in favor.
Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) were the only senators who did not vote on the amendment, which would have guaranteed two weeks of paid sick leave as well as 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to all U.S. employees and independent contractors.
“[Fifty one] Republican senators just voted against an amendment… that would have expanded paid leave to millions of Americans left out of the package,” tweeted progressive advocacy group Indivisible. “Let that sink in.”
“If one of these Republicans (or two!) is your senator,” the group added, “call their office right now and tell them you saw their vote and you won’t forget that they voted against the Murray amendment to expand paid sick leave to millions of Americans: 1-855-980-2355.”
The full coronavirus relief package, formally known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, easily passed the Senate Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 90-8, and President Donald Trump subsequently signed the measure into law.
While calling it an urgently needed first step, progressives criticized the legislation as woefully inadequate given that it only provides paid sick leave to about 20% of the U.S. private sector workforce while excluding workers at companies with more than 500 employees.
In a speech on the Senate floor ahead of Wednesday’s vote, Murray pitched her amendment as a “commonsense step” that would be good for both workers and small businesses. The amendment was a modified version of the PAID Leave Act, which Murray introduced Tuesday alongside Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).
“It’s the right thing to do for our economy and for public health—and we should get it done as soon as possible,” Murray said. “If we don’t do this, if we let this opportunity slip by, we are sending a message to scared people across the country that we still are not willing to acknowledge the scope of the tragedy we are seeing unfold.”