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Sanders says he can't support bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal in its current form

Sanders says he can't support bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal in its current form
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden tax-hike proposals face bumpy road ahead Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate MORE (I-Vt.) on Friday said that he cannot support a bipartisan $908 billion COVID-19 relief proposal unveiled this week by congressional moderates unless significant changes are made. 

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to significantly improve this bill," Sanders, a prominent progressive lawmaker, said in a statement. "But, in its current form, I cannot support it.”

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinBiden tax-hike proposals face bumpy road ahead Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster Manchin: Removing Hawley, Cruz with 14th Amendment 'should be a consideration' MORE (D-W.Va.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history MORE (R-Utah), on Tuesday released a coronavirus relief proposal in an effort to get congressional leaders in both parties to negotiate a deal on legislation.

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House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCowboys for Trump founder arrested following Capitol riot Retired Army general: 'We can't have demonstrators showing up at a state Capitol with damn long guns' Graham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCowboys for Trump founder arrested following Capitol riot Graham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs MORE (D-N.Y.) subsequently said they supported using the $908 billion proposal as the basis for negotiations.

The proposal includes funds for state and local governments, unemployment insurance, small-business support programs, and vaccine development and distribution, among other things.

Sanders expressed concerns about a portion of the proposal that would provide liability protection for businesses. The proposal calls for short-term federal liability protection in order for states to have time to prepare their own responses.

"The Manchin-Romney proposal will, through this liability provision, encourage corporations to avoid implementing the common sense safety standards needed to protect workers and consumers — and make a bad situation worse," Sanders said.

Sanders also criticized the proposal for not including any direct payments to Americans.

Congress passed legislation in March that provided for a single round of payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child, and progressives are pushing for additional payments to be part of the the next relief package.

"At a time when the COVID crisis is the worst that it has ever been in the U.S. with record-breaking levels of hospitalization and death, the Manchin-Romney proposal not only provides no direct payments to working families, it does nothing to address the health care crisis and has totally inadequate financial assistance for the most vulnerable," Sanders said. "That is wrong morally and it is wrong economically if we hope to rebuild the economy."