Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) — who built a national profile years ago as the head of a hard-line small-government advocacy group — said this crisis “is not like an ordinary recession or even a severe recession. This more like an act of God or war footing.”

Toomey said comparing current proposed legislation with the financial industry bailout of 2008, which he opposed, is misguided because “those were caused by a bubble in real estate and financial institutions being overleveraged, all kinds of human error.”

“It’s a different thing when a lethal pathogen affects large numbers of Americans,” Toomey said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vowed that the Senate will not recess before reaching bipartisan agreement on the stimulus legislation. And his advice to his conservative colleagues: Rally together even if bills are fiscally problematic.

“My counsel to them is to gag and vote for it anyway, even if they think it has some shortcomings, and to address those shortcomings in the bill that we’re in the process of crafting,” McConnell said Tuesday.