Cracks are appearing in the Senate Republican wall against a new phase of massive economic relief spending, as populist conservatives and vulnerable incumbents begin to clamor for a new round of legislative action while leadership counsels patience.

“I think one of the really striking things about the political response to the pandemic has been the extent to which leadership has shifted to the group of Republican senators willing to think creatively about economic challenges,” said Oren Cass, executive director of American Compass, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. “Sen. Hawley, along with Rubio, [Sen. Tom] Cotton, and Romney, have been at the forefront of just about every innovative proposal — PPP, checks to households, China, hazard pay. By contrast, members of the caucus who are most committed to the standard GOP playbook have found that if the solution isn’t a tax cut, they just don’t have much to offer. Or in some cases, they just try to propose tax cuts anyway.”

“Conservatives have to apply their principles to modern challenges, not just repeat the proposals that emerged from such a process decades ago,” Cass said. “The policymakers who are able and willing to do that will be the future leaders of the right-of-center.”