Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., missed a crucial Senate vote Sunday to hold a livestream from his home in Burlington with “Squad” members Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
The Senate vote was to consider a $1.4 trillion “Phase Three” stimulus package meant to help businesses devastated by the downturn over the coronavirus outbreak.
During his livestream, Sanders blasted the package proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
“It is hard for me to believe that in the midst of this terrible crisis that we have a Senate Republican bill that would give the Trump administration a blank check to hand out corporate welfare to virtually any corporation in America, without conditions as to how they can protect workers in this country,” Sanders said.
The Senate failed to move forward with the package amid strong opposition from Democrats.
Meanwhile, many Democrats complained the draft aid package did not go far enough to provide health care and unemployment aid for Americans, and failed to put a restraint on a proposed $500 billion “slush fund” for corporations. The Democrats said the ban on corporate buybacks was weak and limits on executive pay would last only two years.
“What we’re seeing today with the Senate GOP bill is just a complete mockery of public service,” Ocasio-Cortez said in the livestream. “We’re supposed to be here to help people. What Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate just presented was just a package of corporate sweeteners to hand a blank check to Trump and [Treasury Secretary Steven] Mnuchin.” For his part, McConnell said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., “poured cold water on the whole process” by leading the House Democrats’ opposition to the bill.
Sanders decried bailouts for the airline industry, the hotel industry and even the candy industry, saying those industries “are not talking about how they’re going to protect the workers.”
Sanders again reiterated that the federal government must act “no matter what the cost” to stem the economic damage from the pandemic.
“I know some of my Republican colleagues are talking about, gee, a one time, $1,000 payment, really, really gonna last for two or three weeks, and what happens after that?” Sanders said.
“We must act in an unprecedented way, don't matter what it costs,” the senator added. “That means the guarantee [to] every man, woman and child in this country that we will make them hope and we're not going to leave them out.”
Sanders repeatedly has called for “emergency cash payments” to be sent to every American each month for the duration of the pandemic.
The White House and congressional Republicans have supported similar payments, albeit on a smaller scale.