Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley introduced an amendment to send a second round of stimulus payments after Senate negotiators dropped them from their stimulus proposals.
The bill would provide $1,200 to all “working-class adults” and $500 for each child, similar to the measure included in the CARES Act in March.
“In the midst of this terrible pandemic and economic crisis, this amendment would make certain that working families get the urgent, direct support they need to survive,” Sanders said in a statement. “A direct payment of $1,200 for adults and $500 for kids would help desperate families pay rent and heating bills, put food on the table, and be able to go to the doctor. In the midst of so much economic desperation, Congress cannot go on recess without providing this $1,200 emergency assistance to the American people in their time of need. I look forward to working across the aisle with Senator Hawley to ensure that the United States Senate passes this amendment.”
“It would be a dereliction of duty if Congress adjourns for Christmas without having a vote on providing working families with direct payments,” Hawley added. “Working people are struggling. And they should be the first people given relief, not last. The crisis of rising unemployment claims, ever-expanding food lines, evictions, and growing credit card debt has been staring us in the face for months. It’s time we do something about it and provide emergency relief to Americans.”
Senators split on future:
While Hawley said he would not try to block a short-term spending and stimulus bill that did not include direct payments, Sanders said he would be willing to delay such a bill in an effort to add the amendment.
"Nobody wants to see the government shut down," Sanders told CNN. "But I think it would be outrageous and simply unacceptable for members of Congress to go home to their families when tens of millions of working-class families in this country are facing economic desperation, they don't have the food, literally, to feed their kids, they're worried about being evicted, they can't afford healthcare, they have no income. We have got to address that."
The amendment likely does not have enough votes to pass despite bipartisan support.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has proposed a $500 billion package that does not include direct payments or a federal unemployment boost.
Democratic leaders are backing a bipartisan Senate proposal that would provide $908 billion, including a $300-per-week federal unemployment boost, but no direct payments.
Both parties expect to debate a larger stimulus proposal next year after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.