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There have been three laws passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, two signed by then-President Donald Trump and one by President Joe Biden, that provided stimulus checks to millions of Americans. Prison inmates were eligible for all of the payments.
One law was signed before Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., took office. Kelly voted in favor of the other two and against a failed amendment to one bill that would have excluded inmates from receiving a stimulus payment. That amendment was the only vote specifically about inmates receiving stimulus checks.
Republicans supported the first two bills signed by Trump, then denounced the Biden bill. Republicans criticized the Biden stimulus payment for going to incarcerated people, even though the previous ones went to them, too.
An ad that spoofs a TV commercial makes claims that are no joke about Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in Arizona’s high-profile U.S. Senate race.
"Are you here illegally but need help getting your taxpayer benefits?" says the narrator in the 30-second spot that includes Spanish subtitles. "Are you an inmate that wants your Biden stimulus check? Mark Kelly is here to help."
Kelly "voted to allow prison inmates to receive stimulus checks five separate times," the ad says.
The ad ends with an image of Kelly behind the words: "Call Mark Kelly today! 1-800-LIBERAL."
The ad is from Saving Arizona PAC, which did not reply to emails requesting information to back up the claim. The super PAC supports Kelly's challenger, Republican Blake Masters, in one of the races that will decide which party controls the Senate.
We rated a claim that Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., supported "nearly $1 billion in stimulus checks for prisoners, including domestic terrorists" Half True. But the Saving Arizona PAC ad’s "five separate times" claim exaggerates Kelly’s support for giving stimulus checks to inmates.
The ad does not make it clear whether it is referring to five votes by Kelly or five payments issued to eligible inmates. Neither claim is accurate.
There have been three laws passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic that sent stimulus checks to Americans, including prison inmates.
One of the laws was adopted before Kelly took office. He voted in favor of the other two, one signed by then-President Donald Trump and another signed by President Joe Biden. Kelly also voted against a failed amendment to exclude inmates from the Biden stimulus. That amendment was the only vote specifically about inmates receiving stimulus checks.
Each of the laws allowed incarcerated people to receive stimulus payments. The ad is missing the context that most Republican members of Congress voted in favor of the first two rounds of stimulus funding, which included stimulus checks for incarcerated people and received overwhelming bipartisan support.
The first law, signed by Trump in March 2020, distributed checks through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, aka CARES Act. The payments were $1,200 per income tax filer plus $500 per child. That was before Kelly took office.
When Kelly took office in December 2020, he voted for the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which Trump signed. It distributed coronavirus relief checks of $600 per income tax filer plus $600 per child.
Kelly also voted for the American Rescue Plan Act, which Biden signed into law in March 2021.
Kelly voted against a failed Republican amendment that would have prohibited prisoners from receiving checks — $1,400 for single taxpayers and $2,800 for joint filers. Democrats said the amendment would have hurt incarcerated people’s families, making it harder for them to pay their bills.
There were a number of other votes in relation to the 2021 bill, but they did not pertain to whether inmates should receive payments. For example, Kelly voted for a motion to proceed, and against a motion to exclude illegal immigrants from receiving checks.
Kelly’s campaign pointed out that one vote footnoted in the ad refers to loans in the Paycheck Protection Program. But that vote doesn’t support the ad’s claim because that program was not a stimulus plan. The vote concerned a failed measure in March 2021, which Kelly voted against, that would have prohibited awarding Paycheck Protection Program loans to people convicted of a felony "in relation to a riot or civil disorder" during the preceding two years.
Saving Arizona PAC claimed Kelly "voted to allow prison inmates to receive stimulus checks five separate times."
Stimulus checks have been sent to Americans three times in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Inmates were eligible to receive all three payments. There weren’t five votes by Kelly or five payments to inmates.
Kelly, who wasn’t in office when the first stimulus package passed, voted for two of the measures, one signed by Trump and one signed by Biden. He also voted not to exclude inmates from the Biden package, which was the only vote specifically about inmates getting stimulus checks.
The statement contains an element of truth that Kelly voted in favor of stimulus checks, which prison inmates were eligible to receive. But the claim ignores critical facts that would give a different impression, including that Kelly was not even in office when one of the stimulus payments was approved, with support from Republicans.
We rate it Mostly False.
RELATED: Arizona fact-checks
YouTube, Saving Arizona PAC "Mark Kelly Law" ad, Oct. 11, 2022
NBC News, "Super PAC backing Blake Masters launches $2 million ad buy," Oct. 12, 2022
National Republican Senatorial Committee, "Senate Democrats Vote to Give Stimulus Checks to Prisoners," March 6, 2021
PolitiFact, "Mark Kelly’s votes did not give benefits to immigrants in the country illegally," May 2, 2022
PolitiFact, "Yes, Democrats voted to send stimulus checks to prisoners, as Republicans did last year," March 9, 2021
PolitiFact, "Ask PolitiFact: Who’s eligible for a stimulus check under the American Rescue Plan?", March 9, 2021
Washington Post, "Murderers, undocumented immigrants: Hyped-up claims about who’s getting stimulus checks," March 9, 2021
FactCheck.org, "Republican Talking Point Omits Key Details About Stimulus Payments to Inmates," Sept. 19, 2022
U.S. Senate, "On the Amendment (Kennedy Amdt. No. 1401)," March 25, 2021
U.S. Senate, "Question: On Passage of the Bill (HR 1319, As Amended)," March 6, 2021
Internet Archive, "Congressional Record: Senate," March 5, 2021
GovTrack.us, "H.R. 133: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 [Including Coronavirus Stimulus & Relief]," Dec 21, 2020
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