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Republican senators spar over $1,200 stimulus checks

Posted at 6:02 PM, Dec 18, 2020

A proposal to extend $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans failed on Friday after Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, objected to the motion.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, proposed fast tracking legislation to extend $1,200 stimulus checks to the same group of Americans that received a previous check earlier in the year. Senators can fast track bills as long as no Senators object.

“Let's send a message to working families that they are first, not last. They are the most important consideration, not some afterthought,” Hawley said.

Johnson cited excessive spending by the government for the reason for his objection.

“My comments here are really not directed specifically at the senator from Missouri’s proposal because he makes many good points,” Johnson said. “We do have working men and women. We have households that once again, through no fault of their own, are struggling, and we need to provide financial support. I think my comments are in some respect more general from the standpoint of how we've done that. And as I have explained to my colleagues in conference, by and large, the initial relief packages here were a shotgun approach.”

Both parties have been working on economic relief for months, but have failed to come to any sort of compromise. After weeks of considering a bipartisan proposal that did not include stimulus checks, support has gathered for sending $600 checks to Americans.

Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed to keep legislators in Washington until a pandemic relief bill is passed.

Two weeks ago, a bipartisan group of legislators proposed a $900 billion stimulus plan that would extend funds for additional unemployment benefits for up to 18 weeks per worker. The legislation also would replenish funds for the Paycheck Protection Program, which helped companies affected by the pandemic make payroll.

There would also be $160 billion earmarked for state and local governments, which have seen a drop in tax revenue due to the pandemic. There is in additional $45 billion allocated toward the transportation industry, most notably for airlines, which have seen an over 50% reduction in business since March.