GOP senator blocks bill to prevent private debt collectors from seizing stimulus checks

Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.) on Thursday blocked legislation that would prevent private debt collectors from being able to seize stimulus checks sent out under the latest coronavirus relief bill.

Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Democrats release data showing increase in 'mega-IRA' accounts Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE (D-Ore.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownTop Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure Schumer's moment to transform transit and deepen democracy Democrats ramp up pressure for infrastructure deal amid time crunch MORE (D-Ohio) attempted to pass legislation to shield the payments from being garnished by private debt collectors.

Though a previous $600 payment passed in December included the protection, the rules of reconciliation — the process Democrats used to avoid the 60-vote filibuster on the most recent bill — precluded similar language from being included into the $1.9 trillion bill. 

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"Now Senator Brown and I wanted to include these protections in the American Rescue Plan. We wanted to include them just like was done in the December relief bill. But the problem was Senate rules don't allow Senator Brown and I to include these protections in the American Rescue Plan," Wyden said from the Senate floor.

Toomey, however, objected. Under the Senate's rule any one senator can try to set up a vote or pass a bill, but any one senator can similarly object.

Toomey argued that Democrats' decision to go it alone and use the process of reconciliation on coronavirus relief was the reason they couldn't get the language protecting the payments into the bill.

"It was going to be strictly Democrats using the reconciliation process, and that is the only reason that this provision couldn't be addressed because it can't be dealt with under the reconciliation rules," Toomey said.

Toomey also argued that the legislative fix supported by Wyden and Brown would prevent the money from going to individuals that a court has already determined should see the payment.

"How about the deadbeat dad not paying his child support?” Toomey said.