More than 1.7 million American citizens, including an estimated 43,000 in Arizona; 35,000 in Colorado; 249,000 in Texas; and 88,000 in Florida, were prohibited from receiving their $1,200 stimulus check this spring. Why? Solely because of whom they married.
Under the CARES Act, and at Republican insistence, U.S. citizens married to foreign nationals without a valid social security number were not eligible for the federal coronavirus relief. This edict also applied to their citizen children. Preventing U.S. citizens and their children from accessing essential relief during a pandemic is morally wrong, economically harmful and politically foolish.
As emphasized by Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley — TikTok, Snapchat seek to distance themselves from Facebook Rubio calls for federal investigation into Amazon employee benefits Senate GOP campaign arm outraises Democratic counterpart in September MORE (R-Fla.) in a recent Zoom town hall with the bipartisan American Business Immigration Coalition, it is not only immoral to deny U.S. citizens and their children the same critical financial assistance provided to other citizens, it is unconstitutional. “If you can vote and you can fight for your country, then that should also entitle you to the same rights and obligations that citizens writ large have,” said the senator. As a lifelong Republican voter and donor, I cannot agree more, especially when the only alternative for those citizens left behind would be divorcing their spouse. That would be an absurd ask from the party that prides itself on promoting family values.
Additionally, the marriage penalty is economically devastating, especially for the states hit the hardest by COVID-19. In Arizona alone, correcting this injustice would immediately inject more than $51 million into the local economy (and an estimated $36 million in Colorado; $97 million in Florida; $37 million in North Carolina; and $349 million in Texas.)
But, if the moral and economic concerns are not reason enough, the political implications for the Republican party are significant. Not only is the GOP making the affirmative decision to deny an important relief to large numbers of U.S. citizens - and voters - in politically impactful states, this policy offends the basic sense of fairness to all Americans. For Republicans to alienate such a large block of American voters makes zero sense, and will undoubtedly be reflected at the polls for those facing re-election this November.
As we experience a new surge of coronavirus cases in states across our country, it is time for Republican senators to do the right thing - especially those representing key battleground states. Senators like John CornynJohn CornynBipartisan lawmakers target judges' stock trading with new bill Cornyn raises more than M for Senate GOP Is the Biden administration afraid of trade? MORE (R-Texas), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Kelly Loefler (R-Ga.), and Cory GardnerCory GardnerColorado remap plan creates new competitive district Protecting the outdoors: Three cheers for America's best idea Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Colo.) need to follow the lead of their colleagues Sens. Rubio, Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema Advocates frustrated by shrinking legal migration under Biden MORE (R-N.C.), Bill CassidyBill CassidyTrump goes after Cassidy after senator says he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Hillicon Valley — Presented by American Edge Project — Americans blame politicians, social media for spread of misinformation: poll MORE (R-La.), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyIn Montana, a knock-down redistricting fight over a single line Trump-backed bills on election audits, illegal voting penalties expected to die in Texas legislature The Memo: Conservatives change their tune on big government MORE (R-Utah), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsFunding for victims of 'Havana syndrome' to be included in Pentagon bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Emanuel defends handling of Chicago police shooting amid opposition to nomination MORE (R-Maine), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesThune endorses Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race This week: Democrats aim to unlock Biden economic, infrastructure package Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair MORE (R-Mont.), and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyKelly raises million in third quarter Ruben Gallego is left's favorite to take on Sinema Texas not hiring private contractor for election audit MORE (R-Ariz.) to demand that Congress eliminate the marriage penalty included in the CARES Act.
For the sake of our nation, American families, and small businesses, we urge our Republican senators to heed our calls for every citizen to be treated equally, regardless of whom they married. Our future depends on it.
William Kunkler, III is an executive in private equity in Chicago and a co-chair of the American Business Immigration Coalition.