By: James Walker; Newsweek
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to "stop worrying" about "billionaire campaign contributors" and allow the upper chamber to pass the $3 trillion HEROES Act relief bill.
The former Democratic primary candidate called on the top Republican lawmaker to "respond to the needs of working families" and permit a vote on the bailout fund that passed the House in May this year.
Sanders issued his rebuke of the Senate majority leader as talks over the details of the next coronavirus stimulus package continued to stall.
"Today, I say to Mitch McConnell: Do your job. Let us pass the HEROES Act or legislation that is even better. But, for once in your life, stop worrying about your billionaire campaign contributors, and respond to the needs of working families."
Why it Matters
Negotiations over the next stimulus package have made little headway over the past month as GOP lawmakers, the Trump administration and top Democrats have remained split on the size of the next bailout fund.
The Democratic-led House passed the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act in May, but the bill has not yet been voted on in the GOP-controlled Senate as Republican lawmakers eye a smaller fund capped at no more than $1 trillion.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have signaled that they are both still willing to thrash out a deal, but still appeared to be divided on the scale of the intervention needed to buoy U.S. households and the economy.
Releasing a statement after a phone call with Mnuchin last week, Pelosi said: "Sadly, this phone call made clear that Democrats and the White House continue to have serious differences understanding the gravity of the situation that America's working families are facing."
The speaker has indicated that her side would be willing to negotiate down the size of the HEROES Act to $2.2 trillion.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday yesterday, Mnuchin said talks were stuck on the topline sum and certain policy issues.
"The speaker has refused to sit down and negotiate unless we agree to something like a $2.5 trillion deal in advance. We put $3 trillion into the economy when the economy was completely shut down, we've now reopened the economy," he said.
"Let's do a more targeted bill now and if we need to do more in 30 days we'll continue to do more. But let's not hold up the American workers and American businesses that need more support."
While Sen. Sanders has laid blame for stalled relief at McConnell's door, the Senate majority leader has argued that partisan splits in the run up to election day are obstructing any deal.
"We haven't reached an agreement, and I don't know if that's going to be possible with all of the partisan juices flowing like they are some two months from the election," he said last week.