The Republican debate over the second COVID-19 stimulus package is sparking dissent in the GOP ranks. Some prominent Republican senators are questioning the $1 trillion or more spending the package would entail, leaving the negotiations in flux. Among them was Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who was very pointed in sharing his thoughts on a second package:
“At lunch today I asked my Republican colleagues, ‘What in the hell are we doing?’” Cruz told CNN on July 21. “We’ll see where this ends up, we still don’t know the details of this initial proposal, but, as it’s written right now, I’m not only a no, I’m a hell no.”
Cruz wrote on Twitter: “As our nation continues to work through these unprecedented public health and economic crises, Congress should focus on reopening the economy and getting people back to work. Not shoveling more cash onto our pile of national debt.”
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky also had some choice words about the package.
The GOP-controlled Senate is trying to decide what to include in a second relief package. What’s at stake? Whether to approve a second direct stimulus check payment to Americans and in what amount. Whether to extend the $600 weekly extra unemployment benefits approved due to the pandemic. Whether to approve the payroll tax cut that President Donald Trump wants. Whether to provide liability protection to places like universities and schools for COVID-19. And more.
Republicans “remained deeply divided over several key elements,” The New York Times reported.
The Democrat-controlled House previously approved its own $3 trillion spending plan, which was more generous than the likely Republican version when it comes to second stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits in particular.
Here’s what you need to know:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Acknowledged That All Republicans Aren’t On Board
In a speech, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Republican plan should contain a second round of stimulus checks, loans for small businesses and $105 billion for schools, according to CNN. He acknowledged that all Republican senators weren’t on board.
He told CNN that the GOP plan “enjoys fairly significant support among Republican senators” but “not everyone.”
Republicans in the Senate have only three weeks to figure this all out before they go into August recess.
Paul Said the GOP Luncheon on the Stimulus Package Was Like a Gathering of ‘Bernie Bros’ & Compared Republicans to ‘Socialist Democrats’
Paul brought up Bernie Sanders supporters in criticizing the tone of the luncheon at which Republican senators were hashing out what to include in the relief package.
“I just walked out of a meeting that could be sort of a Bernie bros, progressive caucus,” Paul said, according to The New York Times. “I’m alarmed that we’re talking about spending another trillion dollars we don’t have.”
Paul told The Washington Times, “They’re talking about spending another trillion dollars. It’s fiscally irresponsible and they should be ashamed of themselves.”
Paul wrote on Twitter, “The majority of Republicans are now no different than socialist Democrats when it comes to debt. They simply don’t care about debt and are preparing to add at least another trillion dollars in debt this month, combined with the trillions from earlier this summer.”
He added: “Just came from Progressive Democrat, whoops, I’m mean Republican caucus: They’re going to spend $105b more on education, more than we spend every year on the Dept of Education. Anyone remember when Reagan conservatives were for eliminating the Federal Dept. of Education?”
CNN reported that some Republican senators weren’t thrilled with the payroll tax cut proposal, either.