Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Monday declared her opposition to a plan to increase $600 stimulus payments to Americans who qualify to $2,000, warning that such handouts could lead to "guaranteed minimum income."
Blackburn, speaking on Fox Business Network, criticized Democrats for refusing to compromise with Republicans over the summer and into the fall to extend increased $300 weekly unemployment benefits.
"You could've had a lot more money than $2,000 in the pocket of hard-working Americans," Blackburn said. "Now, we know that what the Democrats are trying to do with this is to put us on a pathway to a guaranteed the minimum income, which is one of their socialist agenda items."
On Monday, House Democrats rushed to pass a bill to amend the COVID-19 relief package in the omnibus spending bill signed by President Donald Trump, increasing direct payments to many Americans from $600 to $2,000 per individual. President Donald Trump has thrown his support behind the measure, but while there are several Republican senators who support the increase, like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), there are still those like Blackburn who are wary of having the government send direct payments to people instead of more targeted relief.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday asked for the unanimous consent of the Senate to hold an up or down vote on the payment increase, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) objected, blocking the bill for now.
Blackburn criticized the omnibus bill's "wasteful spending" and accused Democrats of dragging their feet on economic stimulus measures prior to the election to increase their chances of winning.
"We also know that President Trump is frustrated, as am I, by a lot of the wasteful spending that is in the budget that was passed, the omnibus spending bill," Blackburn said. "And I think it is just so insulting to American citizens that [Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi even admitted — I mean, she came out and admitted that she had delayed getting this money to individuals through … unemployment insurance, because it benefited them politically to wait and do it until after the election."
Host Gregg Jarrett, filling in for Lou Dobbs, asked Blackburn if it was a "bad look" for Republicans to oppose stimulus check payments while Americans face economic hardship during the pandemic.
"The aid has been delayed, and aid should be targeted, it should be temporary, it should be there when people need it," Blackburn replied. "And see, what the Democrats did was to delay it and prohibit it and they didn't want to do the things that were necessary to create the very best stimulus.
"The best stimulus is a job," she continued. "But they don't want to open the economy, they don't want to get children back to school. They would prefer to keep people locked in their houses and out of work" until there are widespread vaccinations for coronavirus.
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