After months of stalled negotiations, Congress finally passed a new $900 billion coronavirus relief package late Monday night with overwhelming support in the Senate, but six Republicans stood firmly against it.
Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., all stood firmly against the bill, which had been bundled with a $1.4 trillion spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. Their criticisms largely focused on the size of the legislation, both in terms of the dollar amount and the bill's page count.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
"To so-called conservatives who are quick to identify the socialism of Democrats: If you vote for this spending monstrosity, you are no better," Paul said on the Senate floor.
"When you vote to pass out free money, you lose your soul and you abandon forever any semblance of moral or fiscal integrity," he said, targeting his fellow Republicans.
Paul suggested that instead lawmakers should open the economy, cut obvious waste in the budget, and stop piling on debt for future generations.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.
Likewise, Scott railed against what he believed was an unnecessarily expensive measure, warning that there will be consequences for taxpayers.
"Once again, in classic Washington style, vital programs are attached to a massive omnibus spending bill that mortgages our kids & grandkid’s futures," he tweeted. "Therefore, I can’t support this bill."
Scott's tweet included a lengthier statement in which he lamented that "Washington doesn’t seem to understand that new spending today will be paid for by increased federal debt and result in a tax increase on families down the road." He mentioned that his position is consistent with his history of opposing "enormous and wasteful" bills.
"The easy route is simply to go along as Congress continues to do harm to future generations of Americans, but I will not be a part of it," he said.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
Blackburn recognized that the legislation will accomplish a number of positive goals such as the development and distribution of vaccines, assistance to schools, and help for small businesses, but claimed it was not worth the steep cost.
"I cannot support nearly $2.4 trillion in spending that will make recovery even harder," she said in a statement. "I have serious concerns with provisions buried in the 5,593 page bill, such as expanded visas, Pell grants for prisoners, and households with illegal aliens receiving economic impact payments. For these reasons, I voted no on passage of this legislation."
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
Johnson said he was "glad a government shutdown was avoided and that financial relief will finally reach many who truly need it," but explained that he opposed the legislation due to the "dysfunction" of the process.
"The dysfunction of Washington, D.C. was on full display as Congress combined covid relief with a massive omnibus spending bill three months past the deadline and into the current fiscal year," Johnson said in a statement. "This monstrosity was 5,593 pages long, and passed only nine hours after the Senate first saw it."
Johnson warned that due to the lack of time to examine the lengthy bill, it could take weeks or months before lawmakers understand everything included in it.
"I simply could not support this dysfunction, so I voted no," he said.
Johnson said he supported the CARES Act earlier this year because it was necessary at that time "to act quickly and massively to prevent an economic meltdown." This time, however, he favored a more targeted approach, crafting what had been a slimmer bill in September that still would have provided more than $600 billion in relief.
"We do not have an unlimited checking account," his statement continued. "We must spend federal dollars — money we are borrowing from future generations — more carefully and place limits on how much we are mortgaging our children’s future."
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas
Cruz and Lee also criticized the process of the legislation, with lawmakers having just hours to read several thousand pages. After Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized the concept of having to vote on a large bill without having time to examine it, Cruz agreed with the left-wing Democrat.
"It’s ABSURD to have a $2.5 trillion spending bill negotiated in secret and then—hours later—demand an up-or-down vote on a bill nobody has had time to read," Cruz tweeted.
Cruz also railed against Democrats in a statement posted Tuesday morning, claiming that the bill "advances the interests of the radical Left, special interests, and swamp lobbyists, with funding going towards expanding authority for more H-2B visas for foreign workers while a near record number of Americans remain unemployed[.]" He also said that it sets the stage "for Democrats to implement the ‘Green New Deal' by claiming a ‘need' to meet the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, or zero-emission energy sources."
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah
Lee demonstrated the difficult logistics of having to read thousands of pages in such a short time, showing in a video posted to Twitter how long it takes just to print it out.
"Because of the length it is impossible that anyone will have the opportunity to read it between now and the time that we will vote," Lee said in the video. "And I am absolutely certain that this has been cobbled together by a very small handful of members of Congress and their staffs and to the exclusion of 98% of members of Congress of both political parties in both houses."
After delivering that statement on video with a printer running in the background, Lee noted that it had taken roughly three minutes to print out the first 100 pages of the bill.
"This process, by which members of Congress are asked to defer blindly to legislation negotiated entirely in secret by four of their colleagues, must come to an end," he said.
Fox News' Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report.