Just after President Donald Trump finally agreed to sign the stimulus bill that would help the millions of people struggling with under and unemployment, the House backed legislation to make payments $2,000 instead of $600. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, ever the villain, objected to this on Tuesday afternoon. Not all hope is lost, though, thanks to Bernie Sanders, who says he has a plan to begin setting things right.
According to Sanders, he has forged a path to force senators to cancel their holiday plans until Americans are ensured additional stimulus payments. While McConnell planned on a speedy vote this week on an override of Trump’s defense bill veto, Sanders has decided he won't let that happen so easily. Prior to the vote on the House-backed bill that took place today, Sanders detailed that, should McConnell not cooperate, he would delay the defense bill until a vote is held. That way, Republicans are forced to compromise on a stimulus bill with $2,000 checks instead of $600. Now that McConnell has moved to block the Democrats’ request to hold a vote on the larger stimulus checks, Sanders will filibuster and keep Congress tied up until the last possible moment. And as per Senate rules, this is completely allowed.
“McConnell and the Senate want to expedite the override vote and I understand that. But I’m not going to allow that to happen unless there is a vote, no matter how long that takes, on the $2,000 direct payment,” Sanders said in an interview on Monday night. Not only would Sanders have the ability to keep the chamber in during the holiday week, but the move would seriously impact Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue’s campaigns in Georgia right before the runoff race. If Loeffler and Perdue can’t campaign because they're held in proceedings, they stand a chance of lagging too far behind their incumbents, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. And perhaps McConnell knows better than anyone that if the GOP loses its their majority in the Senate, it's game over.
Sanders has repeatedly spoken out against the $600 checks in recent weeks, and even defended the president’s assertion that everyone should get at least $2,000. Many have stood by that line of logic and have continuously pushed for more money for Americans, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib. Unsurprisingly, Republicans like McConnell have continued to argue against providing more monetary support for people who have struggled through ten months of the pandemic. Still, some have (surprisingly) endorsed the higher amount, like Marco Rubio — showing there’s a major split in the party.
It's unclear what all of the next steps will be, but Sanders is obviously committed to holding Republicans accountable. “The American people are desperate, and the Senate has got to do its job before leaving town. It would be unconscionable, especially after the House did the right thing, for the Senate to simply leave Washington without voting on this,” he said.
"While including these payments ultimately improved this bill, given the enormous economic desperation that so many working families across this country are now experiencing, there is no question but that this legislation did not go far enough," Sanders stated last week about the $600 offering. Now, the Senator's plan to put a hole in Pentagon funding until the Republicans say yes to a more adequate stimulus bill will likely move forward. And it’s clear that he won’t stop finding creative ways to keep fighting for people’s right to government aid when so many are in dire straits.