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GOP Senator on Blocking Stimulus Checks: 'I'm Not Heartless'

Ron Johnson insists $1,200 checks aren't the way to go, would balloon national debt
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2020 6:30 AM CST

(Newser) – As the end of the year draws near, Capitol Hill is still wrangling with a new COVID relief plan—and this week, one GOP senator made clear his views on stimulus checks to Americans as part of that plan. The Hill reports that on Friday, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri tried to get consent for a bill (requiring unanimous approval) that would send out $1,200 to individuals making up to $75,000, which would match the first round of stimulus checks sent out earlier this year. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, however, nixed the idea, calling it a "shotgun approach" that would blow up the national debt. "We have families in need. There's no doubt about it," Johnson said, per Axios. "I completely support some kind of program targeted for small businesses so they can reemploy ... to restore capital."

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Politico reports that later Friday, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders tried again for the $1,200 checks with his own proposal, which Johnson also blocked. Johnson noted that the federal deficit was what prompted him to run for office in the first place and that he doesn't want to "[mortgage] our kids' future." "I'm not heartless," he said. "I want to help people. ... I voted for the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, but I also am concerned about our children's future." Leadership is rallying instead around $600 stimulus checks, which Hawley and Sanders say isn't nearly enough to help people out during the pandemic. Another GOP senator rankled many online with his own take Friday on COVID relief. "The best stimulus? A job," Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted. Many pointed out to the congressman that unemployment rates during the pandemic have been dismal, with citizens forced to line up at food banks and facing eviction. (Read more economic stimulus package stories.)

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