Sens. Markey, Cruz clash over coronavirus relief: ‘It’s not a goddamn joke Ted’

Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySanders offers bill to tax billionaires’ wealth gains during pandemic Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Budowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey MORE (D-Mass.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOn The Trail: Pence’s knives come out Pat Fallon wins GOP nomination in race to succeed DNI Ratcliffe The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association – Negotiators ‘far apart’ as talks yield little ahead of deadline MORE (R-Texas) on Monday clashed on Twitter over Markey’s proposal to send $2,000 monthly payments to every American for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

Markey in May introduced a bill with Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHuffPost reporter: Biden’s VP shortlist doesn’t suggest progressive economic policies Hillary Clinton labels Trump coronavirus executive actions a ‘stunt’ Why Joe Biden needs Kamala Harris MORE (D-Calif.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump is fighting the wrong war Michelle Obama, Sanders, Kasich to be featured on first night of Democratic convention: report The Memo: Trump team pounces on Biden gaffes MORE (I-Vt.) that would provide a $2,000 monthly payment to those making up to $100,000 per year during, and in the immediate aftermath of, the pandemic.

Markey’s tweet on Monday appeared to go beyond that proposal, calling for the payments to go to “every person in our country” during the pandemic, for three months after and retroactively to March. 

Cruz sarcastically responded to Markey about one hour later, retweeting Markey and noting sarcastically, “Why be so cheap?”

“Give everyone $1 million a day, every day, forever. And three soy lattes a day. And a foot massage,” Cruz wrote. “We have a magic money tree — we should use it!”

Markey continued the exchange shortly after, telling Cruz that he didn’t think aid for families should be made a “joke.”

“It’s not a goddamn joke Ted,” the Massachusetts senator wrote. “Millions of families are facing hunger, the threat of eviction, and the loss of their health care during a pandemic that is worsening every day. Get real.”

The social media back and forth comes as negotiations over the next coronavirus relief bill, which looked likely to include another round of direct payments to Americans, have all but collapsed.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may ‘pay nothing’ as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE on Saturday signed three memos and an executive order targeted at providing relief despite the gridlock in Congress, though direct payments were not included.

Trump’s actions instead aimed to extend enhanced unemployment benefits, defer the payroll tax and provide relief on evictions and student loans. Democrats and some legal experts have questioned the legality of the orders.

Markey’s comments come as he is facing a stiff primary challenge from Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyBudowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey The Hill’s Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at war Markey offers apology to family of unarmed Black teen amid criticism MORE III (D-Mass.) in the upcoming Sept. 1 primary. While Markey has aimed to flex his progressive credentials, the RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Kennedy leading by 5 points.

Cruz, meanwhile, has joined other Tea Party members in making clear their opposition to a large relief package, even bucking their own party leadership. In response to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Coronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority Coronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal MORE’s (R-Ky.) initial $1 trillion proposal, Cruz declared he was a “hell no” and predicted the bill would balloon in cost.

McConnell’s proposal included a one-time $1,200 stimulus check with the same eligibility requirements as the payments in the March CARES Act: Those making up to $75,000 per year would receive the full amount, with the amount scaled down until it hit an income level of $99,000 per year, when it was phased out altogether.

Families also received $500 per dependent child as part of the March legislation.

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