Politics & Policy

Hawley, Romney Criticize GOP’s Coronavirus Cash Payment Plan: ‘Lower-Income Families Shouldn’t Be Penalized’

Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) in Washington, D.C., July 11, 2019 (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) spoke out against the Senate GOP’s plan for direct payments to Americans as part of its phase-three coronavirus relief package, calling it “regressive” and saying the structure of the plan “needs to be fixed.”

“Relief to families in this emergency shouldn’t be regressive. Lower-income families shouldn’t be penalized,” Hawley tweeted Thursday night after Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R., Ky.) dropped the plan.

The Missouri Republican clarified that he was speaking directly about the bill in a later tweet, adding that it “needs to be fixed.”

The plan, which McConnell said Thursday creates “money for people, from the middle class down, period,” includes direct payments of $1,200 per person and $2,400 for couples to help offset economic losses amid the growing pandemic. But the provision that Hawley labeled “regressive” states that size of the checks will be halved for Americans with no federal income tax liability. While the Senate Finance Committee said the bill “ensures relief gets to low-income seniors and disabled veterans,” the plan will also affect poor Americans.

Earlier this week, Hawley released his own plan targeted at all single parents making less than $50,000, and all married parents making less than $100,000, to assist working families with cash payments — a proposal enthusiastically endorsed by Quinton Lucas, Democratic mayor of Kansas City, Missouri.

“Let’s not overthink this. These families need relief — now — to pay bills that are coming due, make those emergency grocery runs, and get ready for potential medical bills. Let’s get it to them,” Hawley said in a press release announcing the plan.

Senator Mitt Romney (R., Utah), who released his own proposal for a one-time $1,000 payment to every American, also criticized the final plan’s payment structure.

“The current bill has promise but it shouldn’t give lower earners smaller checks —that’s directly contrary to my proposal. We need to fix this to ensure lower earners get equal payments,” Romney tweeted on Thursday night.

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