Sanders calls for $2,000 monthly payments, suspending some bills amid pandemic

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins DC primary Biden wins Montana primary Biden wins New Mexico primary MORE (I-Vt.) on Friday outlined wide-ranging priorities for a fourth coronavirus relief package as lawmakers begin to discuss new legislation amid the pandemic.

Sanders, in a list released by his presidential campaign, is calling for a future coronavirus bill to include a $2,000 monthly "emergency payment" to every person in the country "until the crisis has passed."

"We must provide direct, recurring, monthly payments to every person in the country, regardless of income, tax filing, or immigration status. That means reaching every person in the United States, including the undocumented, the homeless, the unbanked, and young adults excluded from the CARES ACT," Sanders added in a post on his campaign website.

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The third coronavirus bill, passed late last week, provided a one-time check of $1,200 to individuals making up to $75,000. The amount of assistance scales down until the gross adjusted annual income hits $99,000, where it would be phased out altogether. It also provided an additional $500 per child.

But Democrats were quick to argue that a one-time payment would not be substantial enough to help Americans keep up with monthly bills, as the coronavirus appears poised to shutter large swaths of the economy for months.

The White House initially asked for two rounds of direct payments, but Senate Republicans said they wanted to make sure the second round was needed.

“In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way. That means that Congress must pass, in the very near future, the boldest piece of legislation ever written in modern history," Sanders said in a statement.

In addition to the direct assistance, Sanders is also pitching using the next bill to ensure Americans stay on payroll, using Medicare to help cover health care costs, bolstering use of the Defense Production Act, offering hazard pay for front line workers, providing $600 billion to states and cities and "freezing" monthly rent and mortgage payments.

That includes suspending "monthly expenses like rent, mortgage payments, medical debt, and consumer debt collection for four months. We must ensure that these payments are not deferred, coming due as soon as the emergency is lifted, but completely suspended," Sanders wrote on his campaign website.

He is also calling for canceling student debt payments for the duration of the crisis, placing "an immediate moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs" and restoring utilities to individuals who have had them shut off.