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Single Republican Senator Blocks Democrats' Emergency Paid Sick Leave Bill From Heading to the Senate Floor

Single Republican Senator Blocks Democrats' Emergency Paid Sick Leave Bill From Heading to the Senate Floor
Mario Tama/Getty Images

COVID-19, the latest strand of coronavirus, continues to spread across the globe, with over 1,000 cases in the United States—eight times higher than the week before.

Numerous cities are taking precautions in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, whose resurgence has officially been deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

Despite what President Donald Trump may say, one of the most crucial precautions people can take is to stay home from work when they feel sick.

Sadly, this isn't always an option.

Many working class people can't forego a day's worth of hourly wages and have any hope of making ends meet. Over a quarter of private sector workers don't have access to paid sick leave.

A high percentage of these jobs are in food service and retail positions, which demand constant in-person interaction—a potential recipe for disaster in the face of a pandemic.

That's why Democrats in the Senate tried to put an emergency paid sick leave bill up for a vote on the floor.

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) said of the bill:

"For many of our workers ― restaurant workers, truck drivers, service industry workers ― they may not have an option to take a day off without losing their pay or losing their job. That's not a choice we should be asking anyone to make in the United States in the 21st century."

But like hundreds and hundreds of bills from Democratic lawmakers in the last year or so, its hopes were snuffed by Republicans in the Senate.

This time, one Republican can take the blame: Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

When Murray tried to fast track the emergency sick leave legislation for a floor vote, Alexander's objection made sure it didn't even leave the Republican dominated committee on health.

Alexander conceded that paid sick leave was a good idea, but that employers shouldn't be expected to cover it in an emergency.

People saw right through him.

His objection became an indictment of the entire Republican party's treatment of the working class.

You can help stop the spread of coronavirus by thoroughly washing your hands often.

You can help stop the spread of the next pandemic by voting Republicans out of office.