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GOP Sen. Braun On Attempts To Reach An Economic Relief Package Deal


And I want to bring in Senator Mike Braun, Republican of Indiana. Good morning Senator, Braun.

MIKE BRAUN: Good morning.

KING: So the president said last night that this country will soon be open for business - sooner, he said, than three or four months. Public health officials, on the other hand, are saying we don't know how long this will go on. You are a businessman. You built an auto parts distribution company that has close to a thousand employees. So I imagine the implications of this, the calculus, are weighing on you. What should be happening here? Should the president just listen to what the scientists say?

BRAUN: So early on, probably before any senator expressed an opinion on it, I described it as a tricky balance to where we converge on that day of making sure that we listen carefully to the people that know the most about what we need to do primarily and that is to see the disease curve flatten. And until we do that, it's my opinion that we're not going to relieve the national anxiety that is out there. I've never seen anything like it. I've also - you know, think that it does need to have a little bit of an entrepreneurial approach in terms of, yes, maybe we can.

You know, you see where 20,000 of the cases are in New York; I don't see where you could take any approach in a place, you know, where it's most significant other than taking the health care point of view as the absolute. I look at...

KING: I hear you saying the president should be listening to the experts on this one. I want to move on, though, because...

BRAUN: And - but I...

KING: Go ahead, please.

BRAUN: ...Still think you should balance it because I think if you do this right, it's like anything; you - generally, if you stay blinded into one point of view, it doesn't work everywhere. So I think this is much different by where you're from. If you go into the South, the disease doesn't like hot weather. I think there'll be a natural ability to get through it more quickly in places, and it may not become as rampant. So I think...

KING: I want to jump in. I think we don't yet have the science to suggest that this disease does not like hot weather. I think that's one of those things that scientists are still trying to figure out.

BRAUN: That's true. A lot of that needs to be verified, and I err on that side, so...

KING: OK. Let me ask you about the relief bill that's being negotiated.


KING: Our Ayesha Rascoe, you just heard her report that Senator Schumer expects to have a deal done this morning. Is that your expectation?

BRAUN: Yes, because we were closer than what the public realized until the dynamic changed, when Speaker Pelosi came back into town. And I think, you know, she has the other side of the equation, so whatever we do here has to make sure that it's going to pass their chamber. And I had not - since I've been here, I had not seen more cooperation among - we had four or five task groups - I was part of the small business group - in terms of weighing in. And we've put together a great package.

I was getting disappointed because it looked like there was more agreement than what - you know, it appeared to be. And yes, there was. And it came down to basically three areas. The laundry list of stuff that tried to get thrown into it, to me, was a mistake. I want to dwell on the fact that it looks like we're close to a solution.

But it was about plussing (ph) up help to state and local governments, which most of us, as Main Street Republicans, would be for that. It was for bolstering what we're going to give the hospitals, the first line of defense. And then full transparency and no gimmicks, no loopholes on the aid to the larger companies, and I was for that as well. Most Democrats were for that...

KING: And you're saying, at this point, it sounds like you all will come to an agreement. That is the optimistic take on this. Let me ask you a last question.

BRAUN: Yes, and I think it's because they focused on those three issues and not the other stuff, which to me was a mistake. That's why we delayed it three to four days. Go ahead.

KING: In the 30 seconds we have left...


KING: ...There were 259 cases of COVID-19 in Indiana yesterday...


KING: ...And seven deaths. What are your constituents telling you? Do they want to stay home, shelter in place? Do they want to get back to work? What are you hearing from people?

BRAUN: Definitely they want to do the latter, but they're also cognizant...

KING: They want to get back to work.

BRAUN: ...That we've got to stick with the - yes, they want to get back to work. And in a place like Indiana, which is mostly rural, you would maybe treat Indianapolis a little different from what you would around the rest of the state; still socially distance but in place - you know, use your common sense to - learn from what we've experienced, and I do believe you can do both, so...

KING: Senator Mike Braun of Indiana. Thanks, as always, for joining us. We appreciate it.

BRAUN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.