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

Sens. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyBiden expands on Obama ethics pledge Democrats shoot down McConnell's filibuster gambit Biden signs executive order invoking 2-year lobbying ban for appointees MORE (D-Mass.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTed Cruz, Seth Rogen trade insults as Twitter spat flares Biden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate Ethics complaint filed against Biggs, Cawthorn and Gosar over Capitol riot 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 HarrisBiden talks NATO, climate change in first presidential call with France's Macron Biden must wait weekend for State Department pick Senators introduce bill to award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal MORE (D-Calif.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersBoycott sham impeachment Sunday shows - Biden agenda, Trump impeachment trial dominate Sanders: Senate may use budget reconciliation to pass Biden agenda 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.”

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 TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 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 KennedyFive centrist Democrats oppose Pelosi for Speaker in tight vote LIVE COVERAGE: House votes to name Speaker Government spending bill to include bipartisan energy provisions 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 McConnellBiden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop Harry Reid 'not particularly optimistic' Biden will push to eliminate filibuster Senators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial 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.