Republican Senator Ron Johnson has blocked an effort to pass a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks, citing concerns about the country’s debt.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who’s name is being floated as a 2024 presidential contender, worked with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in a push to include direct payments to Americans in Congress’ next relief package. The second stimulus checks would be distributed under the same guidelines as the CARES Act.
“What I’m proposing is what every senator has supported already, this year. … What I’m proposing will give working folks in my state and across this country a shot … at getting back up on their feet,” Hawley said on the Senate floor Friday.
To get consent, Hawley needed the cooperation of every senator, but Johnson objected citing the country’s debt and a similar approach to the first CARES Act.
“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, is a shotgun approach,” Johnson said. “We will not have learned the lessons from our very hurried, very rushed earlier relief packages.”
Some find it strange that Johnson brought up his concerns about the debt, considering The Balance, the national debt rose 36% during President Trump’s four years in office. During Trump’s 2016 campaign run, he promised to eliminate the debt within eight years.
Johnson’s objection throws a wrench into negotiations that have been ongoing for the entire week. In order to prevent a government shutdown, lawmakers tied the next relief package to a government spending bill that must be agreed to by Friday.
According to The Hill, Hawley said he will not allow a bill to pass until he knows what’s in the agreement. Hawley also wants assurances that direct relief will be in any package that passes.
Hawley said he and Sanders would return to the floor Friday to try to pass their bill again.