Stimulus Checks: Ted Cruz Threatens to Derail Relief Talks by Pushing Unpopular School Choice Plan

The United States Senate's new stimulus check plan could be endangered by Sen. Ted Cruz's controversial new addition: the "school choice" plan. Cruz pushed the idea hard in the Senate Republican Conference, according to a report by CNN, threatening the balance of votes needed to pass the new package. Republicans are intent on pushing the legislation through before the 2020 presidential election.

Cruz is reportedly arguing for billions of dollars in tax cuts to benefit private school funding — an idea touted by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and broadly referred to as "school choice." The idea is to fund parochial, charter and private schools, as well as home-school programs, to give parents more of a "choice" about where to send their children. It was a big topic at the RNC 2020 last week, where speakers argued that the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted the "weakness" of public school programs around the country.

Cruz's proposal specifically would provide full reimbursement for donations to state-based nonprofit scholarship fundings, to help families afford tuition and other education expenses for non-public K-12 schooling. Opponents of the idea argue that all of this funding and resources could just as easily go to existing public schools to help them recover.

The "school choice" plan reportedly has very little support in Washington and in the public eye. Insiders say that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to get the party to focus on its most popular ideas as they head into the election and to pass a new stimulus package. However, even within the Republican party, support for McConnell's $1 trillion stimulus plan is not assured. Cruz has reportedly threatened to vote against it if school choice is not included in private phone calls with his colleagues.

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Other Senate Republicans are reportedly on the fence as well, including Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and even Sen. Rand Paul, McConnell's fellow Kentucky Senator. On the flip side, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is unlikely to support McConnell's plan if Cruz's school choice program is implemented.

This tactic not only endangers the Senate's plan to pass a stimulus bill and paint the Democrat-controlled House as the villains for failing to do so, but it also threatens the possibility of another stimulus check coming through at all. More and more public officials are acknowledging the possibility that there is no more financial aid on the way for struggling Americans.