GOP Sen. Ron Johnson dismisses $1,200 stimulus checks as 'mortgaging our children's future'

GOP Sen. Ron Johnson dismisses $1,200 stimulus checks as 'mortgaging our children's future'
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • Two GOP senators made symbolic gestures on the floor Friday, with a stand-alone bill from Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri getting rejected.
  • In a floor speech against Hawley's effort to force an up or down vote on direct payments of $1,200 to working-class Americans, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin dismissed the checks.
  • "We will not have learned the lessons from our very hurried, very rushed earlier relief packages," Johnson said, describing the $1,200 checks as "mortgaging our children's future."
  • Hawley recently teamed up with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont from across the aisle to call for a stand-alone bill providing direct payments.

A pair of Republican senators butted heads on the Senate floor Friday, debating the merits of direct payments to Americans.

Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri called for an otherwise symbolic up or down vote from colleagues on whether they supported $1,200 stimulus checks, independent of whatever ends up in the roughly $900 billion compromise package being negotiated ahead of the holidays.

But the response from Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin dismissing the checks as "mortgaging our children's future" - despite his support for the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, along with a more recent $741 billion defense budget - typified the clunky return many in the GOP have been making to fiscal conservatism as President Donald Trump heads out of office. The federal debt rose by $7 trillion during Trump's tenure and is now $27 trillion.

Hawley recently teamed up with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in a bipartisan push for direct payments to be prioritized over aid to businesses.

"Nothing could be more targeted; no relief could be more important than relief for working people," Hawley said.


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"Now the senator is right," Hawley added. "This body has spent trillions of dollars this year alone on COVID relief. We're getting ready to spend, apparently, another trillion dollars more.

"And yet working people are told they may be last, if they get relief at all ... I just urge members of these bodies, go home and try explaining that to the people of your state."

Johnson said the checks could be a step too far, saying such a measure would be tantamount to "mortgaging our children's future," according to Jake Sherman of Politico.

In October, Johnson made a similar point during an earlier phase of the stimulus talks.


"I came from the Tea Party. We are concerned," Johnson said, according to CNN.

"At some point in time, the Tea Party may not be as strong as it once was," he added, alluding to the increase in deficit spending and the overall national debt under Trump. "But there's still plenty of people like me, and a lot of people that voted for people like me that are highly concerned about the fact that we're mortgaging our kids' future."

But many economists have repeatedly called for more direct payments to Americans who are struggling in vast sectors of the coronavirus-affected economy.