A final push to include $1,200 stimulus checks for American families in the proposed COVID-19 relief package from Congress was stopped in its tracks on Friday as two Republican senators squared off. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) tried to force a vote on the bill but was blocked by his colleague Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis).
The proposal which Hawley introduced alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would have sent a second cash payment of up to $1,200 to Americans who earn less than $99,000 and checks of $500 to their kids. The language in the bill would have mirrored the original CARES Act legislation passed in March.
On the Senate floor on Friday, Johnson said, “We have families in need. There’s no doubt about it. I completely support some kind of program targeted for small businesses so they can re-employ, so they can reopen, to restore capital. What I fear 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.”
Hawley argued, “Nothing could be more targeted; no relief could be more important than relief for working people. The senator is right. This body has spent trillions of dollars this year alone on [COVID-19] relief. We’re getting ready to spend apparently another $1 trillion more. And yet working people are told, they may be last – if they get relief at all.”
The $900 billion measure, which is currently under discussion, is expected to include $600 stimulus checks while also boosting unemployment benefits by $300 per week. Additional funding for small businesses and another round of aid for the airline industry are also reportedly included.
Senators are expected to stay in D.C. through the weekend as they work toward passing the deal.