WASHINGTON, December 8 — Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) urged Senate Democrats today to recognize the enormity of the economic and public-health crisis posed by COVID-19 and join them “in demanding that any new COVID-19 relief proposal includes a $1,200 direct payment to adults and $500 to their children,” while rejecting provisions “to give a liability shield to corporations who threaten the health and safety of workers and customers.”
In a letter to their colleagues, the Senators note that COVID-19 is infecting nearly 200,000 Americans and killing 2,000 Americans daily, and argue that a bipartisan proposal under negotiation “does not go anywhere near far enough,” as America experiences “the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.” Only $348 billion in new money is currently allocated in that proposal, the Senators point out, even though “the Trump Administration and a bipartisan coalition in the House supported over $1.8 trillion in COVID-19 relief that also included another $1,200 direct payment.”
“It would be unacceptable to take a major step backwards from those previous efforts by passing legislation that only included $348 billion in new money,” the Senators wrote to their Democratic colleagues.
The lawmakers further expressed their opposition to “a get-out-of-jail free card to companies that put the lives of their workers and customers at risk” currently under consideration in a bipartisan COVID-19 relief measure, and cited concerns from labor groups that “granting immunity would make the country less safe at the exact moment when the COVID-19 pandemic is entering a new, dangerous phase.” The letter’s signatories also registered their agreement “with President-elect Biden that a $1,200 direct payment should be included in this proposal,” as over half of American workers live paycheck to paycheck and one in four are either unemployed or make less than $20,000 a year, while millions more face eviction and hunger.
Read the letter here.