Sanders, Hawley team up to demand vote on second round of stimulus checks
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) are teaming up to push for a vote on a second round of stimulus checks — an unusual alliance that underscores the wide political spectrum that supports more direct payments.
The two senators introduced a proposal on Thursday that would provide a second $1,200 stimulus check to individuals who make up to $75,000, mirroring language included in the March CARES Act.
Hawley and Sanders are pledging to try to force a vote, either as part of a weeklong stopgap bill that needs to pass by Friday night or the dual government funding and coronavirus relief negotiations that need to be resolved by Dec. 18.
“My view is that we want a vote on this one way or another, before we leave town,” Hawley told reporters.
Sanders added in, “at the very least.”
“All that Sen. Hawley and I are asking for is the exact same language, word for word, that was in the CARES Act,” Sanders said.
The push by Hawley and Sanders come as a bipartisan group of senators and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have offered separate coronavirus relief proposals, neither of which include a second round of stimulus checks.
The push for stimulus checks divides GOP senators and would beef up the price tag, which could also spark GOP opposition.
But several progressives and Hawley have pushed for it to be included as part of any agreement that passes before the end of the year. Hawley, a potential 2024 presidential contender, has also urged President Trump to veto any coronavirus deal that does not include a round of direct payments.
Hawley initially said on Thursday morning that he would be introducing a bill.
But Hawley and Sanders came to the floor late Thursday afternoon to announce that they had teamed up on an effort to get it attached to a continuing resolution (CR) that has to pass by Friday or to get a guarantee of a vote next week.
“Next week, I am going to do everything that I can to make sure that that happens. We cannot, we will not leave Washington unless we make certain that millions of families have the economic assistance that they need,” Sanders said from the Senate floor.
The decision to team up comes as GOP leadership is blaming Sanders for threatening to hold up the CR as part of an effort to get a vote on the proposal.
Sanders, speaking with reporters, refused to rule that out but said, “let’s play it by ear.”
Asked about the remarks from Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, he added: “They can blame me for anything they want.”
“But people back home by the millions are going to be blaming this Congress for inaction, for leaving their children to go hungry, or to get evicted, that’s where the blame lies,” he said.
Hawley said that he would let a one-week CR pass by Friday night, but signaled that he viewed the second government funding bill that needs to be passed by next Friday as a leverage point.
“Tomorrow’s CR I would be willing to let move forward, but I want a vote on this before we leave town,” Hawley said. “There’s various options, we’ll see. Next week will be an interesting week.”