Senate Republicans are slamming their Democratic counterparts for blocking an amendment last March that would have prevented prisoners from receiving stimulus checks, after it was revealed Wednesday that Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received $1,400 in federal relief.
“Senate Democrats blocked my amendment to prevent prisoners, like the Boston Marathon bomber, from receiving government stimulus checks,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “It is an insult to victims.”
In this courtroom sketch, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aloke Chakravarty is depicted pointing to defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, right, during closing arguments in Tsarnaev’s federal death penalty trial Monday, April 6, 2015, in Boston. (Associated Press)
“Every single Senate Democrat voted to send covid relief payments to prisoners, including terrorists and mass murderers like the Boston Bomber,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Each dollar Dzhokhar Tsarnaev receives should go to the families of those he brutally injured and killed.”
Tsarnaev has been ordered by prosecutors to return a $1,400 COVID-19 relief payment he received last summer along with other money sent to him, according to a court filing Wednesday.
Tsarnaev so far has only paid $2,202.03 of the more than $101 million in restitution owed to his victims. The filing said the $1,400 in COVID-19 relief money should instead be used as restitution.
Tsarnaev was sentenced to death two years after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, which left three people dead and hundreds hurt. The death sentence was overturned in 2020 after a court ruled that a trial judge erred by excluding some evidence. An appeal to reinstate his death sentence is before the U.S. Supreme Court.
This combination of undated file photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 2013)
Cotton warned in March that convicts like Tsarnaev would benefit from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill knows as the American Rescue Plan of 2021, which included $1,400 stimulus checks for individuals making less than $75,000.
“Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Bomber, murdered three people and terrorized a city,” Cotton wrote in a March 6 tweet. “He’ll be getting a $1,400 stimulus check as part of the Democrats’ ‘COVID relief’ bill.”
Cotton and Cassidy, along with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, offered an amendment on the floor at the time to block checks from prisoners, but it failed on a party-line vote, 49-50.
Cruz’s office did not respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., argued at the time that prisoners’ children could be affected by withholding the money from them.
Senate Democrats pushed through the legislation in a party-line vote of 50-49 on March 6, it passed the House a few days later with one Democrat voting against, and President Biden signed the bill into law on March 11.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations on Capitol Hill on Sept. 28, 2021, in Washington. (Patrick Semansky/Getty Images)
Both Cotton and Cassidy voted in favor of two COVID-19 relief bills under the Trump administration that also did not exclude prisoners from receiving stimulus checks. Cruz voted against both bills that offered $1,200 and $600 checks.
Cotton explained in March that those previous payments to prisoners were an unanticipated problem, and that a “liberal federal judge” mandated the payments in October 2020 against objections by the Internal Revenue Service, months after the bill had already passed.
“Congress passed another relief bill in December while this litigation was pending,” Cotton tweeted at the time. “But no amendments were allowed that could have fixed the problem. At this point, our only chance to stop it was through litigation. Finally, we had a chance to fix this on March 6 with @BillCassidy’s amendment. If this amendment passed, the Boston Bomber and countless other murderers would have been excluded from getting a check. But it failed because Democrats voted against it.”
Fox News’ Brie Stimson and Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.
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