Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) pledged Thursday that Democrats will pass a huge coronavirus relief package if they win the Senate in next month’s elections.
“If the Democrats gain control of the Senate, the first order of business will be a massive stimulus bill to protect desperate working people throughout this country,” Sanders said on Hill.TV’s “Rising.”
The remarks come as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin press on in their negotiations on COVID-19 aid. Pelosi has stuck to her position that a stimulus package must total at least $2.2 trillion, while the administration has inched up to $1.8 trillion.
Both sides have said progress has been made in the past week, though no final legislation has materialized.
President Trump has urged the two sides to “go big,” but disagreements have emerged over aid to state and local governments, which the president calls a slush fund to bail out what he says are poorly run Democratic localities.
And Republicans in the Senate have expressed pessimism that they can get enough votes to pass a bill that goes beyond $500 billion due to concerns in the conference over the ballooning national debt.
Sanders said Senate Republicans’ hesitation to go for anything larger than $500 billion is “pathetic” but that he too has concerns over a potential bill, saying a deal must include a boost to unemployment benefits and another round of stimulus checks.
“It’s not just a number, 1.8 or 2.2 or whatever it is, it is what is in the bill. I am concerned about a slush fund that the Trump administration would have within that bill. I am very concerned that when we have millions of people who have lost their jobs, they desperately need that $600 supplement to their unemployment, they need that $1,200 check, they need health care, they need to be able to pay their rent,” he said. “So the devil is in the details in terms of what is in the bill.”