Hawley's push for standalone stimulus checks shot down by fellow GOP senator
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley’s push to pass another round of stimulus checks with the same amount of money as last time hit a roadblock Friday with a fellow Republican senator.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said Hawley's proposal was too expensive and too broad as he blocked his motion to pass $1,200 checks by unanimous consent.
Congressional leaders are working on a separate plan to send checks of $600-700 per person as part of a larger stimulus package that will likely also include a new round of loans to businesses as well as extra money for people on unemployment.
Hawley did not object to that idea in a floor speech Friday, but he argued his standalone proposal to simply repeat the first round of checks passed in March would be the best approach for working families.
Hawley noted that millions are behind on their rent and struggling to put food on the table, and said passing his bill would show those people they're a top priority.
“Let’s send a message to working families that they are first, not last, that they are the most important consideration, not some afterthought," he said.
Johnson, the Wisconsin senator, said he wants to help people, too, but objected to Hawley's "shotgun approach" he said would unfairly burden future taxpayers.
“When I first got here, I ran because we were mortgaging our kids’ future,” he said. “I’m not heartless. I want to help people. I voted to help people. I voted for the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, but I also am concerned about our children’s future.”
Johnson also objected to a later motion from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to pass the $1,200 checks.
As the three senators were going at it, congressional leaderscontinued negotiating the compromise package that close observers expect will be passed sometime before the end of the year.
Leaders are under pressure to pass something to help people get through the next few months before vaccines become widely available and make the virus less of a drag on the economy.
Data show the economy has improved significantly since the early days of the crisis, when lockdowns idled many businesses, but it remains in rough shape.
Thelatest numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor show only about half the 22 million jobs lost in the early days of the crisis had been recovered by November.