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

Sens. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyNearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to 'promptly' allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines Equilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Olympics medals made of mashed up smartphones MORE (D-Mass.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump's Texas endorsement boosts a scandal-plagued incumbent while imperiling a political dynasty Trio of Senate Republicans urges Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia 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 HarrisWant to improve vaccine rates? Ask for this endorsement Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Will Pence primary Trump — and win? MORE (D-Calif.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersWomen's March endorses Nina Turner in first-ever electoral endorsement GOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden Democrats brace for slog on Biden's spending plan 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. 

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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!”

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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.”

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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 TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit 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 KennedySupreme Court confounding its partisan critics Warren says she'll run for reelection to Senate Five centrist Democrats oppose Pelosi for Speaker in tight vote 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 McConnellHouse to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance Five takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony McCarthy, McConnell say they didn't watch Jan. 6 hearing 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.