Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday reiterated his opposition to an extension of a boost to jobless benefits in a new round of coronavirus relief legislation while taking aim at Democratic positions on further aid to those affected by the pandemic.
In an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation," the conservative Texas Republican added that he still opposes an emerging GOP package set to be introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday, which would scale back the $600 benefit to compensating out-of-work Americans for a percentage of their lost wages.
But Cruz saved much of his criticism for a $3 trillion House Democratic package passed in May, which he said is "not actually solving the problem."
"Her objectives are shoveling cash at the problem and shutting America down," Cruz said of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"The only objective Democrats have is to defeat Donald Trump, and they've cynically decided the best way to defeat Donald Trump is shut down every business in America, shut down every school in America," Cruz added. "Nancy Pelosi talks about working men and women. What she's proposing is keeping working men and women from working."
Cruz was one of a handful of Republican senators who expressed opposition to legislation being negotiated by Senate GOP leaders and the White House.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday the administration will oppose extending the extra $600 unemployment payments. Republicans, who say the benefit has been so generous as to convince many unemployed Americans not to find jobs, are instead looking to enact a new measure that would replace 70 percent of workers' lost wages.
Cruz did not say whether he'd be open to a lower amount of unemployment benefits in the bill, but blamed the payments for making it harder for small businesses to hire back workers.
"They won't come back. And, of course, they won't come back because the federal government is paying them, in some instances, twice as much money to stay home," Cruz said.
He argued that pandemic legislation should include measures such as a payroll tax cut, which President Trump had pushed for. The proposal died amid opposition from members of both parties.
"What we ought to focus on instead of just shoveling trillions out the door, we ought to be passing a recovery bill," Cruz said. "A recovery bill would be lifting the taxes and the regulations that are hammering small businesses so that people can go back to work. A recovery bill would suspend the payroll tax, which would give a pay raise to everyone in America who's working."