Sanders presses Schumer on $1,200 payments, bigger COVID-19 relief bill

Sanders presses Schumer on $1,200 payments, bigger COVID-19 relief bill

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersManchin suggests pausing talks on .5 trillion package until 2022: report Yarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed Sanders calls deadly Afghan drone strike 'unacceptable' MORE (I-Vt.) says he is pressing Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) to fight for a bigger COVID-19 relief package that would include $1,200 stimulus checks for most Americans after Democratic leaders signaled support for a $908 billion compromise offer last week.

“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,” Sanders told reporters.

Sanders said he has already talked with Schumer about the issue. Sanders is arguing that the total amount of new federal money that would be injected into the economy would in reality be far less than $908 billion because much of it would be repurposed from unused funds appropriated by the CARES Act in March.

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“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,” he said, referring to a compromise proposal a bipartisan group of Senate and House lawmakers introduced last week.

“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 said. “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.”

Sanders and five other Democratic senators released a “Dear Colleague” letter Tuesday criticizing the moderates’ $908 compromise proposal. They called for a larger package including another round of $1,200 direct payments.

“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 wrote.

“Please join us in demanding that any new COVID-relief proposal includes a $1,200 direct payment to adults and $500 to their children,” they added.

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“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 of the moderates’ offer.

Sanders said he is also talking to conservative Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleySenators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE (R-Mo.), who lobbied President TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims MORE in a phone call over the weekend to veto any coronavirus relief bill that does not include a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks for individuals making up to a certain amount.

Sanders said he hopes Hawley will be able to rally other Republicans to back a larger bill.

“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.”

Schumer and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden pushes back at Democrats on taxes Yarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed Of partisan fights and follies, or why Democrats should follow Manchin, not Sanders MORE (D-Calif.) expressed support for the $908 billion compromise plan last week, calling it a basis for COVID-19 relief talks.

Updated: 2:17 p.m.