But earlier that day, one of Kennedy’s colleagues — one of the most influential health-policy voices on Capitol Hill — sent a much more cautious message. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and a senior appropriator, echoed public health officials in warning that the necessary testing infrastructure simply to allow for a wholesale loosening of restrictions has not been created…

The election-year calls from conservatives to reopen the U.S. economy, at the cost of the health and lives of Americans, amounts to a different calculation from what many Republicans made in the past.

Notable is that amid the debate over the Affordable Care Act in 2009, conservatives led by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin seized on a proposal to allow Medicare to pay for voluntary counseling on end-of-life treatment options as “death panels” for elderly Americans. That entirely speculative risk helped drive GOP opposition to the Democratic health-care law; now Republicans are brushing aside much more credible risks in their zeal to restart the economy with an eye toward the November elections.

While Democrats have joined calls to plan for a carefully managed reopening, most have been careful to leave key decisions in the hands of public health experts — who so far have warned that the trajectory of the pandemic is still uncertain and that broad stay-at-home orders remain warranted.