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GOP senator blocks bill for $1,200 stimulus checks for second time

GOP Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonMarjorie Taylor Greene's delay tactics frustrate GOP Democrats gear up for PR battle on COVID-19 relief Johnson says leaving office after 2022 'probably my preference now' MORE (Wis.) blocked a proposal to provide another round of stimulus checks for the second time on Friday — this time when it was offered by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSinema pushes back on criticism of her vote against minimum wage, implying that it's sexist Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Schumer insists Democrats unified after chaotic coronavirus debate MORE (I-Vt.). 

Sanders, speaking from the Senate floor late Friday afternoon, tried to pass his bill that would provide a second $1,200 stimulus check for Americans making up to $75,000, the same language passed during a March CARES Act. 

“This is not a radical idea. This is an idea that is supported by President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE. It is an idea that is supported by President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Myanmar military conducts violent night raids Confidence in coronavirus vaccines has grown with majority now saying they want it MORE,” Sanders said. “The American people cannot wait any longer; they need economic relief right now. ...vThey need help and they need it now.” 

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Sanders is the second senator to try to pass a bill Friday to provide a second round of $1,200 checks. Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyDeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Chamber of Commerce clarifies stance on lawmakers who voted against election certification Crenshaw pours cold water on 2024 White House bid: 'Something will emerge' MORE (R-Mo.) also tried earlier Friday and was similarly blocked by Johnson, who argued that additional coronavirus relief needs to be targeted and voiced concerns about the country's debt. 

“I'm not heartless. I want to help people. ... I voted for the $2.2 trillion CARES Act but I am also concerned about our children's future. ... We do not have an unlimited checking account,” Johnson, who is up for reelection in 2022, said after he blocked Sanders's request. 

Sanders, before he tried to pass the bill, said it was “comical that suddenly our Republican friends once again discover that we have a deficit.”

Hawley and Sanders, political opposites, emerged as Congress's latest odd couple to push for Congress to pass a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks either as a stand-alone bill or part of a sweeping coronavirus and government funding deal that is still being agreed to by leadership. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food Ron Johnson forces reading of 628-page Senate coronavirus relief bill on floor MORE (D-N.Y.) aligned himself with Sanders on Friday. 

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“The quickest way to get money into the pockets of the American people is too send some of their tax dollars right back where they came from. So let's step up the plate. ... I support Senator Sanders's request fully and hope the Senate will consent,” Schumer said. 

Hawley and Sanders let Congress pass a one-week continuing resolution (CR) last week but warned that they viewed the ongoing negotiations as a leverage point. 

Hawley warned earlier Friday that he could hold up a CR until he gets details on what is being negotiated as part of the coronavirus package, which would be tied to a $1.4 trillion government funding package. 

“I'd like to see some indication of what we're moving toward,” Hawley said. “So I'm not going to allow a CR to go through until I know what's actually in the package.”