Bernie Sanders and Five Senate Democrats Urge Chuck Schumer to Include Stimulus Checks in Coronavirus Relief Bill

Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren (MA), Ed Markey (MA), Jeff Merkley (OR), Ron Wyden (OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), and Independent Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) wrote a joint letter to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) on Tuesday imploring him to include another round of $1,200 stimulus payments in the next coronavirus relief bill.

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Sanders, however, has been the most outspoken critic of all Senate progressives.

“You’re going to hear from us very, very shortly … what I think you’re going to see is a letter going out from a number of us to try to rally the Democratic caucus to stand tall and make sure that every working family in this country gets a direct payment of $1,200 and $500 for their kids,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“Remember, it’s not really $908 billion in new money, it’s … $348 billion in new money and the rest is transferred from old money that was in the CARES Act,” said Sanders.

“I think Democrats are going to have to stand up, fight for a working class in America today that is hurting in a way that we have not seen in recent years. The idea that McConnell and the Republicans are not supporting a $1,200 check for individuals up to a certain limit — similar to the CARES Act — and $500 for the kids is absolutely unacceptable,” Sanders added. “There’s a lot of pain out there. The American people are looking to us for help and Democrats [should] stand up for working families of this country.”

In their letter to Schumer, the liberal sextet said that a reduction in unemployments benefits and the elimination of direct payments are not good enough.

“Unlike the CARES Act, which we passed in March, this proposal only provides a $300 supplement for unemployed workers rather than $600 a week. Further, unlike the $1,200 direct payment for every working class individual and $500 for each child, it provides absolutely no direct payment,” they said. “Please join us in demanding that any new COVID-relief proposal includes a $1,200 direct payment to adults and $500 to their children.”

Even though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has endorsed the watered-down offer, which is less than half the $2 trillion that was proposed before the election, the Senators stressed that it does not go far enough given the severity of the crisis.

“Simply stated, given the horrific extent of the current crisis and the desperation that working families all over this country are experiencing, this proposal does not go anywhere near far enough,” they said.

Sanders has also been in discussions with Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who on Monday asked President Donald Trump to veto any legislation that does not include more $1,200 checks.

Hawley explained to Trump that “it’s vital that any relief include direct payments, and I’m not gonna vote for it if it doesn’t.’ And I also urged him to veto any bill that did not have direct payments in it,” he recalled in an interview with Politico.

“We had a good conversation about it. And, you know, a pretty thorough conversation. He asked a number of questions about the state of play of the different proposals. And I think it’s fair to say that he was surprised at the direction that some of these were headed,” said Hawley, who added that helping individuals should be prioritized over corporate entities.

“Working families and individuals ought to be first for COVID relief, and then we’ll talk about everything else. I see some of these comments about ‘well, we just don’t have any money left over,’” Hawley said. “We don’t have money left over for people? We can give it to state governments, to businesses, but we don’t have any money for people? I just think that’s crazy.”

Sanders said that he hopes Republicans will stand up for the millions of Americans who are in financial dire straits.

“I’ve talked to Sen. Hawley and I hope very much he can rally some other Republicans,” Sanders said. “I think Trump supporters out there like everybody else are hurting right now. Many have lost their jobs, many are struggling with issues of eviction. They want that $1,200 and I hope the Republican leadership and members of the Republican caucus understand that.”

Forty-three days until the inauguration.

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