BURLINGTON, December 4 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement on the Manchin-Romney COVID19 legislative proposal:
“Given the enormous economic desperation facing working families in this country today, I will not be able to support the recently announced Manchin-Romney COVID proposal unless it is significantly improved.
“Unfortunately, despite long-time Democratic opposition, this proposal provides 100% legal immunity to corporations whose irresponsibility has led to the deaths of hundreds of workers. It would continue to provide a get-out-of-jail free card to companies that put the lives of their workers and customers at risk. In fact, the Manchin-Romney proposal will, through this liability provision, encourage corporations to avoid implementing the common sense safety standards needed to protect workers and consumers – and make a bad situation worse.
“Further, during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, when over half of our workers are living paycheck to paycheck, when one out of four workers are either unemployed or make less than $20,000 a year, when 92 million Americans are uninsured or under-insured, when tens of millions of people face eviction and when hunger in America is exploding, it is unacceptable that the Manchin-Romney proposal does not even do what the CARES Act did and provide, at the very least, a $1,200 direct payment to working class Americans and $500 for their kids. Tens of millions of Americans living in desperation today would receive absolutely no financial help from this proposal. That is not acceptable.
“Last March, with unanimous support in Congress, President Trump signed the $2 trillion CARES Act into law that provided a $600 a week supplement in unemployment benefits and a $1,200 direct payment to every working class adult, $500 per child and significant help for small businesses, states and cities. In October, as part of the negotiating process, the Trump Administration and a bi-partisan coalition in the House supported over $1.8 trillion in COVID-relief that also included another $1,200 direct payment.
“Today, however, at a time when the COVID crisis is the worst that it has ever been in the U.S. with record-breaking levels of hospitalization and death, the Manchin-Romney proposal not only provides no direct payments to working families, it does nothing to address the healthcare crisis and has totally inadequate financial assistance for the most vulnerable. That is wrong morally and it is wrong economically if we hope to rebuild the economy.
“The American people need help and they need help now. In my view, we have got to make sure that every working class American receives at least $1,200 in direct payments and that we do not provide a liability shield to corporations who break the law.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to significantly improve this bill. But, in its current form, I cannot support it.”