In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday following the defeat of the GOP’s latest coronavirus stimulus package, Sen. Bernie Sanders slammed the chamber’s Republicans for offering “totally inadequate” relief for jobless, hungry, and eviction-prone Americans after happily approving massive tax cuts for the wealthy and a $740 billion budget for the Pentagon.
“The Senate Republican bill provides nothing for rent, nothing for mortgages, nothing for food, nothing for hazard pay, nothing for healthcare, nothing for public transportation, and nothing to prevent the mass layoffs of teachers, nurses, firefighters, and construction workers that will take place as cities and states struggle economically,” said the Vermont senator, who joined the United Democratic caucus in voting down the legislation.
Sanders noted that the GOP bill—which does not include any additional aid for state and local governments—would not prevent teachers and other public employees from losing their jobs due to steep budget cuts that are already having a destructive impact across the nation. As of August, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “about 1.1 million public-sector workers had lost their jobs since February, an estimated 668,000 (59 percent) of them in education.”
“The same Republicans who had no problem voting for a trillion-dollar tax break for the top one percent and large corporations two years ago are now telling 40 million Americans who are struggling to pay for housing that we cannot afford to help them pay their rent or mortgage,” Sanders continued. “The same Republicans who just voted to provide $740 billion for the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex to wage endless wars are now telling 30 million workers who lost their jobs that we cannot afford to continue the $600-a-week supplement they were receiving in unemployment benefits.”
Watch the senator’s speech:
In order to meet the needs of tens of millions of Americans who are struggling to afford basic expenses amid the ongoing public health and economic crises, Sanders said the Senate must urgently approve a relief package that taxes recent billionaire wealth gains to extend Medicare coverage to all for a year, provides $2,000 per month in direct payments to every working class person in the U.S. for the duration of the pandemic, and extends the $600 weekly federal unemployment supplement that the GOP allowed to expire at the end of July.
“Instead of more austerity for the working class of this country,” Sanders said, “we need to impose austerity on the billionaire class and on Wall Street.”