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Senators introduce legislation: Portman wants remote voting, Brown tackles student loans

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ohio’s U.S. senators each introduced legislation relating to the state of emergency over the coronavirus on Thursday.

Republican Rob Portman joined with Democrat Dick Durbin, of Illinois, to introduce a bipartisan resolution to allow senators to vote remotely during a national crisis. During certain crises, such as the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, guidelines from the CDC may advise against convening the full Senate in the Capitol.

Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives announced on Wednesday that they had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“In times of a national emergency, the Senate must be able to convene and act expeditiously even if we can’t be together in person,” Portman said. “It’s during times like this, when we have a pandemic affecting every corner of society and we are asking people to stay in their homes, that we should have the ability to convene the Senate and get our work done even if we can’t be in the Capitol.”

Meanwhile, Democrat Sherrod Brown joined with U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, Patty Murray, D-Washington, and Chuck Schumer, D-New York, to unveil an emergency student loan payment and relief plan.

Brown’s office said the plan would provide much-needed relief to federal student loan borrowers through the immediate cancellation of monthly student loan payments for the duration of the national emergency caused by the spread of the coronavirus, and a pay down of a minimum $10K for all federal student loan borrowers.

“During this pandemic, students and families should not have to worry that they will go into default on their student loans — they should be worried about keeping themselves and their loved ones safe,” Brown said. “Student loan debt in this country is already crushing for many and without relief it will prevent people from fully participating in our economy.”