Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) argues for $1,200 stimulus checks for American families. (Screenshot from C-SPAN)
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) spoke out on Friday on the Senate floor in opposition to a bipartisan proposal advanced by his colleague Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) that would given direct payments of $1,200 to Americans as part of a package of pandemic relief measures.
Hawley and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) say the direct payment amount of $600 that is currently part of the $900 billion measure expected to pass by the weekend is too small.
Johnson cited concerns about the national debt and “our children’s future” in objecting to the payments.
“I completely support some kind of program targeted for small businesses so they can re-employ so they can reopen to restore capital — their life savings has been wiped out,” Johnson said on the floor, complaining that his small business proposals had been “ignored.”
“I feel we’re going to do with this bipartisan package and what the Senator from Missouri is talking about is the same thing — a shotgun approach,” Johnson added. “We will not have learned the lessons from our very hurried, very rushed, very massive earlier relief packages — we’re just going to do more of the same.”
“I not only object to what Sen. Hawley is proposing here, but I’m certainly lodging my objection to what’s barreling through here,” Johnson said, calling the entire pandemic relief package “way too big,” and adding, “We are mortgaging our children’s future without reforms, without targeting,”
“I just want to say this: Nothing could be more targeted, no relief could be more important, than relief for working people,” Hawley added. “The senator’s right; this body has spent trillions of dollars this year alone on COVID relief. We’re getting ready to spend, apparently, another trillion dollars more and yet working people are told they may be last. If they get relief at all.”Hawley responded, “I’ve appreciated working with Senator Johnson on so many issues. On this issue I’m afraid we just are going to have to differ.”
“Go home and try explaining that to the people of your state,” Hawley urged his colleagues, pointing to the money spent to bail out banks and big businesses during the pandemic.
“Now Wall Street is doing great, big tech, they’re doing great. The big multinational corporations, fantastic. Working people — working people are living in their cars. Working people can’t go to the doctor. Working people can’t pay their rent. Working people can’t feed their children.”
Saying he was “proud to partner” with Bernie Sanders on this issue, the Missouri Republican vowed to continue to fight “with whomever it takes for however long it takes, until we get the working people of this country relief.”
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