Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday slammed the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate for refusing to act to address the coronavirus-induced public health and economic crises that continue to intensify, throwing millions more out of work, overwhelming hospitals, and endangering countless lives.
“As you read this, the number of Covid-19 cases is skyrocketing in this country to levels far greater than at any point in this crisis,” Sanders wrote in an email to supporters Sunday evening. “The United States—with just 4 percent of the world’s population—accounts for 25% of the world’s coronavirus cases and deaths. And the Republican Senate is doing nothing.”
Last Thursday, the Senate departed the nation’s capital for a two-week recess without taking any action on Covid-19 relief—even amid dire warnings that millions of additional workers could lose their jobs if Congress doesn’t urgently approve aid to state and local governments.
The Senate is not expected to return to session until July 20, just 11 days before the $600 weekly boost in unemployment benefits is set to expire.
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has focused on other issues in recent weeks, such as an annual defense policy bill and confirming President Trump’s nominees,” the Washington Post reported Monday. “When the Senate comes back into session July 20, McConnell plans to turn his attention back to the coronavirus, giving lawmakers just three weeks to negotiate and pass a big rescue bill before they adjourn again through Labor Day.”
McConnell said last week that he has no intention of delaying the August 10 recess.
Sanders condemned the Senate for dragging its feet “in the midst of these unprecedented crises” and noted that the pandemic has been made worse by “a president who thinks the coronavirus will just ‘disappear’ and that he has a ‘natural ability’ to understand this deadly virus.”
“It will not, and he does not,” the Vermont senator said. “People are dying every day because of his lies and incompetence.”
Upon its return, Sanders wrote, the Senate must approve sweeping Covid-19 stimulus legislation that:
- Uses federal funds to cover workers’ paychecks and prevent more layoffs;
- Extends the $600-per-week boost in unemployment benefits;
- Expands Medicare to cover the uninsured;
- Provides emergency funding to prevent the collapse of the U.S. Postal Service;
- Sends a $2,000 monthly check to every working-class person in the U.S. until the end of the pandemic;
- Cancels rent and mortgage payments until the end of the pandemic;
- Increases federal nutrition benefits; and
- Requires the federal government to manufacture and distribute free face masks to everyone in the U.S.
The Vermont senator urged his supporters to sign a petition pressuring the Senate to “act and pass legislation to protect the health and economic well-being of the American people.”
“These are ideas that the American people support, and it is time that the do-nothing Senate implement them,” Sanders wrote. “But this I know: nothing will happen unless the American people stand up, fight back, and demand, in overwhelming numbers, that the Senate act.”