Politics

Republican senator blocks bill that stops debt collectors from seizing people’s stimulus checks

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Pennsylvania GOP Senator Pat Toomey blocked a bill this Thursday intended to prevent private debt collectors from seizing stimulus checks sent to people as part of President Biden’s economic relief package, Business Insider reports.

Democrats introduced an amendment to the COVID-19 relief package this Wednesday to add protections to stop check from being diverted to debt collection companies from people who owe them money. Toomey, all by himself, stopped the Senate from voting on the bill after Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) attempted to pass it by unanimous consent.

Toomey argued that the relief package had been passed without bipartisan support and that debt collectors have a “valid legal claim” to people’s checks if they are indebted to them. He also said that the amendment was too little, too late,  since 90 million checks had already been sent out by the Treasury Department on Wednesday.

“Now our Democratic colleagues perceive a problem with this legislation and they’d like Republicans’ consent to fix what might have been resolved with some kind of compromise,” Toomey said. “My colleagues want to come here and block a valid legal claim from being honored.”

“At best this is now a political statement because, as one of my colleagues just alluded to, these payments have already gone out the door,” he added. “To the extent that a person was subject to garnishment, the garnishment happens automatically. So, it’s already happened.”

According to Toomey, the amendment would protect “deadbeat” dads and divorcees who refuse to pay alimony or child support.

Wyden slammed Toomey for siding with debt collectors over people who are struggling.

“Senator Brown and I are for those folks who are hurting, they’ve been laid off through no fault of their own,” Wyden said. “And Republicans, unfortunately, with checks still going out… have decided that they are for the private debt collectors. I think it really shows whose side you’re on.”

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