Democratic senators push for $1,200 direct payments in new coronavirus relief package

Democratic senators push for $1,200 direct payments in new coronavirus relief package
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A group of Democratic senators led by Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Sanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenMisguided recusal rules lock valuable leaders out of the Pentagon Biden's soft touch with Manchin, Sinema frustrates Democrats Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (D-Mass.) are pressing colleagues to include $1,200 direct payments in a new COVID-19 relief package and say a $908 billion compromise proposal endorsed by moderates doesn’t go far enough. 

“Please join us in demanding that any new COVID-relief proposal includes a $1,200 direct payment to adults and $500 to their children,” the senators wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter dated Dec. 8.

Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleySenate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act Democrats call on White House to explore sharing Moderna technology abroad Lawmakers introduce bill to limit data collection at border crossings MORE (D-Ore.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCongress needs to step up on crypto, or Biden might crush it Democrats face growing storm over IRS reporting provision Best shot at narrowing racial homeownership gap at risk, progressives say MORE (D-Ore.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyBiden likely to tap Robert Califf to return as FDA head Biden faces pressure to pass infrastructure bills before climate summit Senate Democrat says Facebook offers 'crocodile tears about protecting children' MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Biden signs bill to help victims of 'Havana syndrome' Lawmakers using leadership PACs as 'slush funds' to live lavish lifestyles: report MORE (D-N.Y.) also signed the letter.

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The senators said the $908 billion relief bill spearheaded by moderates such as Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin lays down demands for child tax credit: report Democrats want to bolster working women, but face tortuous choices Buttigieg says delay in climate action will cost lives amid reports of Manchin roadblock MORE (D-W.Va.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenators ask Biden administration to fund program that helps people pay heating bills McConnell gets GOP wake-up call Republicans are today's Dixiecrats MORE (R-Maine), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe root of Joe Biden's troubles Pressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Fill the Eastern District of Virginia  MORE (D-Va.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Memo: Conservatives change their tune on big government Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' MORE (R-Utah) doesn’t provide enough relief.

“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 wrote.

“In truth, rather than the $3.4 trillion which we Democrats called for in the HEROES Act, this bill only allocates $348 billion in new money,” they wrote. “The remaining $560 billion are funds transferred from the CARES Act that have not yet been obligated.”

The group of Democrats point out in their letter that the compromise proposal “only provides a $300 supplement for unemployed workers rather than $600 a week.”

“Unlike the $1,200 direct payment for every working class individual and $500 for each child, it provides absolutely no direct payment,” they wrote.

They also criticized the moderates’ plan for doing “nothing to address the health care crisis impacting tens of millions of Americans who cannot afford medical care” and said it “has totally inadequate financial assistance for the most vulnerable.” 

“Given the enormity of the crisis today, it would be unacceptable to take a major step backwards from those previous efforts by passing legislation that only included $348 billion in new money,” they wrote. 

Sanders told reporters earlier Tuesday that he is pressing Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden's Supreme Court commission ends not with a bang but a whimper Hispanic organizations call for Latino climate justice in reconciliation Senate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act MORE (D-N.Y.) to support a larger relief package that includes $1,200 direct payments to individuals and $500 for each child.

“You’re going to hear from us very, very shortly,” he said. “You’re going to see a … letter going out from a number of us to try to rally the Democratic caucus to stand tall,” adding that he had already spoken to Schumer about the issue.