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

Sens. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyBiden's FDA nominee advances through key Senate committee Overnight Energy & Environment — Manchin raises hopes on climate spending Warren, Democrats ask federal government to resume tracking breakthrough cases MORE (D-Mass.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzAll hostages free, safe after hours-long standoff at Texas synagogue: governor Overnight Energy & Environment — Lummis holds up Biden EPA picks Equilibrium/Sustainability — Bald eagle comeback impacted by lead poison 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 HarrisSecond gentleman Emhoff acts as public link to White House Harris takes fresh start to 2022 We are America's independent contractors, and we are terrified MORE (D-Calif.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats call on Biden to step up virus response We are America's independent contractors, and we are terrified Overnight Health Care — Biden's Supreme Court setback 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 TrumpWendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Senate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Former acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report 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 McConnell​​Democrats make voting rights push ahead of Senate consideration Hogan won't say if he will file to run for Senate by Feb. 22 deadline Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities 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.