New York Republican Rep. Tom Reed, co-chair of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, said Wednesday that Democrats should have included language in the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill to prevent inmates from receiving payments.
"I had one simple amendment on this bill: $1,400 is going to go to convicted child molesters in state prisons. What is that doing to stimulate the economy? Why does a child molester who is sitting in state prison need $1,400 to buy cigarettes or play video games in state prison?” Reed said during a floor speech ahead of the final vote on the bill. "That is your priorities, that's what you put in this bill and you didn't even debate our bipartisan amendment to try to have that included."
Last year, a federal judge ruled that the IRS could not deny stimulus checks in the CARES Act from going to prisoners because the bill did not contain language deeming them ineligible for the payments.
The American Rescue Plan being debated on Wednesday also lacks language making prisoners ineligible for payments. The bill also doesn't specifically prohibit illegal immigrants who have filed tax returns with Social Security numbers from receiving stimulus payments.
Reed said he opposes the bill because the Democrats took a partisan approach to crafting the bill, using budget rules that only required a simple majority for passage in the Senate.
"I rise in objection to this bill because this bill is being passed on the backs of 500,000 plus of our fellow American citizens' deaths under the guise that you're passing a bill on a partisan basis on their souls in order to do COVID relief. This isn't relief," he said. "This is because you guys want in the majority and I'm speaking to the American people to speak truth, you won the majority, you took the opportunity to put forth an agenda and you didn't include bipartisan support.
Let's be honest with the American people. You're playing politics. You're carrying forward an agenda. I get it, you won the election, but this is an emergency. This was a virus that killed our fellow American citizens and we put together $4 trillion worth of relief to the American people on a bipartisan basis. We should have done it again and you didn't. And it's wrong and that's why I say no to this bill."
Democrats moved the bill through Congress using budget rules that allowed the bill to pass without votes from Republicans. The Democratic-controlled House is expected to take a final vote on the bill Wednesday afternoon.