Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took to the Senate floor on Wednesday, urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to allow for a vote on increasing direct payments to adult Americans from $600 to $2,000.
To push his case, the Vermont senator referred to a tweet by President Donald Trump backing the higher payments as part of a coronavirus relief package and said that lawmakers in the upper house should be given the opportunity to voice their opinion on the deal.
Here are his comments in full:
“I want to concur with Senator Schumer for what he said and what he said goes beyond economics, it goes beyond the desperation that tens of millions of working families are facing.
“It goes beyond the struggles of the people of Vermont or Kentucky and let me just make it clear for the majority leader that 10 out of the poorest 25 counties in the United States of America are located in Kentucky.
“So many of my colleagues, the majority leader might want to get on the phone and start talking to working families in Kentucky and find out how they feel about the need for immediate help in terms of a $2,000 check for adults. And I have the strong feeling that the people of Kentucky will respond no differently than the people of Vermont or New York.
“This last poll that I saw, it had 78 percent of the American people saying that they wanted and needed that type of help. But this discussion frankly is not just about the economic struggling of working families in this country, it’s not just the massive levels of income and wealth inequality, it’s about basic democracy.
“What we have to do here on the floor, whether it’s Senator Schumer or Senator McConnell or me, we have got to talk in legalese, that’s the language of the United States Senate and the stuff sounds pretty complicated to the average person.
“But all that Senator Schumer and I are asking of the majority leader is a very simple request; allow the members of the United States Senate to cast a vote.
“If you want to vote against $2,000 checks for people in your state, vote against it. I see Senator Toomey has been clear about it. I suspect he will vote against it, I respect his opinion, but all that we are asking for is a vote. What is the problem?
“In the house over two-thirds of the members of that body including 44 Republicans, voted to say that at this time of economic desperation, working families deserve help and they deserve a $2,000 check and as Senator Schumer just indicated, we have a very unlikely ally in President Trump.
“Nobody here will disagree with Trump more times than I have and yet here is what the leader of the Republican Party says. He says ‘$2,000 ASAP’.
“So even on this issue. Amazingly enough, the president of the United States is right. So what all of this comes down to, my fellow Americans, is not even whether you agree with Senator Schumer or myself and 78 percent of the American people, or you agree with Senator McConnell, and I suspect Senator Toomey, that’s fine, it’s called democracy, we have differences of opinion.
“All that I am asking is give us a vote. What’s the problem? Allow the United States senators to cast a vote as to whether or not they are for the $2,000 check or whether they are against it.
“We will need, as I understand, 60 votes to win. That’s a big hurdle. I don’t know that we are going to win. There are a number of Republicans who to their credit have said they are ready to vote for it. I suspect there may be more and when given the opportunity who will vote for it. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe we will lose and I think that would be unfortunate.
“All that I’m asking for right now is give us the opportunity to vote. What is the problem with that? So Mr. President, with that I will now go to Senate legalese and say, quote: “I ask unanimous consent that at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday December 31, the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of H.R. 9051 to provide a $2,000 direct payment to the working class, that the bill be considered read a third time and the Senate vote on passage of the bill without intervening action or debate.
“Further, that if passed, the motion to reconsider, be considered, made and laid upon the table.
“Further, that immediately following the vote on H.R. 9051, the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of the veto message on H.R. 6395, that the Senate immediately vote on passage of the bill, the objections to the president to the contrary notwithstanding, with no intervening action or debate.”