Sanders, Hawley vow fight next week over stimulus checks

Greg Nash

Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are warning they will use next Friday’s government funding deadline to try to force a vote on a second round of stimulus checks amid lawmakers’ failure to secure a deal on another coronavirus relief package. 

“This Congress must address the economic emergency facing the American people. We cannot go back to our families during the Christmas holidays while tens of millions of families are suffering,” Sanders said during a floor speech. 

While Sanders and Hawley allowed a one-week continuing resolution to clear on Friday, averting a shutdown, they are warning about a showdown next week on their proposal. 

“I am not one of the members of the Senate who shuts down, does this or does that and keeps you here for the weekend. I don’t do that. But this I want to say right now, I am prepared to withdraw my objection at this moment, but I will not be prepared to withdraw an objection next week,” Sanders said.  

Hawley added that there is “no reason that this body should leave next week before we vote on and approve direct assistance to working families.” 

Hawley and Sanders, typically political polar opposites, have teamed up to push for a second round of stimulus checks as Congress tries to wrap up its work for the year, with leadership needing to get a mammoth government funding deal and potentially a fifth coronavirus agreement. 

Hawley initially introduced a stand-alone bill on Thursday morning. Hours later, after he says Sanders reached out to him, they agreed to team up and introduced a joint proposal that they are hoping can ride either on a government bill or a coronavirus deal. 

The two senators are calling for a vote on their proposal that would provide a $1,200 check for individuals who make up to $75,000 — mirroring language included the March CARES Act. 

Progressives and Hawley are pushing for a second round of direct payments. Neither a proposal from a bipartisan group of lawmakers nor one from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) included the stimulus checks. 

GOP leadership has warned that stimulus checks divide their caucus and could beef up the price tag, which could also threaten Republican support. 

But Hawley said that he is “a little more optimistic” about their chances. 

“I think there’s a lot of different vehicles that could be moving next week,” Hawley said. “The best outcome here is this gets put into an actual COVID relief bill.” 

Asked about how realistic it is that he’ll be able to force a vote, Sanders described himself as “comfortable,” adding that the “alternative is we’re going to spend Christmas here.” 

–updated at 3:38 p.m.

Tags Bernie Sanders CARES Act Coronavirus coronavirus aid coronavirus relief coronavirus stimulus Josh Hawley Mitch McConnell

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