WASHINGTON, December 21 — Upon the Senate’s passage of the $908 billion COVID-19 spending package, Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement:
“Tonight, Congress passed a $908-billion COVID-19 relief bill that extends unemployment benefits through the early spring, and provides support for small businesses, schools, healthcare, nutrition, rental assistance, child care, broadband, the Postal Service, as well as funding to help distribute vaccines.
“During the last several weeks, I have been working very hard, along with Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, to provide direct payments to working families throughout the country. Our goal was to replicate what was in the CARES bill of March, which was $1200 for every working-class adult and $500 for each child. While we did not get as much as we wanted, because of opposition from the Republican leadership and too many Democrats, the bill does include a $600 direct payment for every working-class American earning less than $75,000 a year, and a $1,200 direct payment for couples making less than $150,000 a year, plus $600 for each child. That means that the average family of four would receive a direct payment of $2400.
“In Vermont, this provision would provide help to 435,000 adults and 151,000 children—over 90% of our population. It will also bring about $350 million into our state’s economy this winter, helping not only our families, but many small businesses that are trying to survive.
“While including these direct payments ultimately improved this bill, given the enormous economic desperation that so many working families in Vermont and across this country are now experiencing, there is no question but that this bill did not go anywhere near far enough.
“When President-Elect Biden assumes office next month and when the Senate comes back into session in January, I will immediately begin fighting for another relief bill to help Vermont’s families—including another round of direct payments and more relief for the unemployed, the hungry, the uninsured and those who owe back rent and are behind on their mortgage payments. In this unprecedented crisis, it is imperative that we do everything we can to protect the working families of our country, the elderly, the children and the poor.”