BURLINGTON, May 14 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today regarding this week's coronavirus relief legislation developed by House Democrats:
"Let me thank Speaker Pelosi for recognizing the enormity of the crisis we're facing and coming up with a number of proposals in the coronavirus bill she recently introduced to provide emergency relief to those who desperately need it.
"Clearly, in these unprecedented times, we need to substantially increase funding for state and local governments, provide hazard pay for essential workers and save the Postal Service. I applaud the Speaker for including these, and many other, important provisions in her bill.
"In my view, however, the Senate must improve this legislation if we are to adequately address the two most urgent needs facing working families right now: health care and economic security.
"The coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that everyone in America must receive the health care they need regardless of income, including the tens of millions who have lost their employer-provided insurance. Instead of subsidizing COBRA — which would be a massive giveaway to the health insurance industry — I believe Medicare must be empowered to pay all of the health care bills of the uninsured and under-insured until this crisis is over. This approach will provide coverage to all of our people in a much more cost-effective way.
"Second, if we are to avoid another Great Depression, it is absolutely imperative that every worker in this country continues to receive a paycheck and benefits. In my view, a modest extension in the Employee Retention Tax Credit is not the same as guaranteeing the paychecks of workers and will not provide security for working people. Any legislation in the Senate to address the economic crisis must include a provision to guarantee 100 percent of the paychecks of workers up to $90,000 a year. This is what is being done successfully in many European countries and what should be done here.
"In addition, I believe the Senate must substantially expand direct emergency payments to working families. In my view, one additional $1,200 check is not enough. The Senate must provide a $2,000 per month emergency payment for every American until this crisis is over.
"This unprecedented crisis demands an unprecedented legislative response. I look forward to working with my colleagues in improving and expanding the House bill before it is considered in the Senate."