Hawley urged Trump to veto coronavirus deal without direct payments

Greg Nash

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Monday said he urged President Trump to veto any coronavirus agreement that doesn’t include another round of direct payments to Americans. 

“I’m continuing to be flummoxed as to why there aren’t any direct payments. Everybody supported this in March. It’s the most useful, helpful and frankly popular aspect. So I told him that, and … I encouraged him to veto it,” Hawley said about his conversation with Trump, which took place over the weekend as the president was traveling back from Georgia. 

Hawley, viewed as a potential 2024 presidential contender, said he spoke with the president to tell Trump that he was planning to oppose any coronavirus agreement that didn’t include another round of direct payments.  

“I just said in general … that I really thought a direct payment to individuals and working families needed to be part of the package. I said that I had said publicly, and I wanted him to hear it directly from me, that unless there were direct assistance included in the bill, whatever bill it may be, that I wouldn’t be able to support it,” Hawley said. 

Asked about his talk with Trump, Hawley added, “He just asked me for my sense, as he often does. He says, ‘What are you hearing? What do you think the state of play is on various bills?'”

Hawley’s push for another round of direct assistance, which was first reported by Politico, comes nine months after the first round of checks of up to $1,200 went out to Americans after being included in the March coronavirus relief bill.

A group of progressives, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), is also pushing for a second round of direct assistance to be included in a year-end deal.

Neither of the two proposals currently being circulated — a GOP-only measure from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and a proposal from a bipartisan group of senators — includes a second round of direct payments. The bipartisan proposal would include a $300-per-week federal unemployment benefit for 18 weeks. 

Hawley’s decision to oppose coronavirus relief that does not include direct payments comes as he has also said he will vote against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) over a fight on Section 230 — a liability shield for internet companies that’s come under attack by conservatives — and because of a plan to rename Confederate-named bases and military installations within three years. 

Hawley said he also discussed that issue with Trump during their phone call over the weekend. Trump has threatened to veto the NDAA because of the tech fight. 

Hawley said the push to repeal Section 230 “was clearly on his mind.” 

“I take what he says at face value, and it seems that he’s very committed to this,” Hawley added, asked how seriously he is taking Trump’s veto threat on the defense bill. 

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Bernie Sanders Coronavirus coronavirus relief COVID-19 Donald Trump Josh Hawley Mitch McConnell Section 230
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