Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
The monthly payments — as well as a freeze on monthly rent and mortgage payments — are part of a list of wide-ranging priorities the progressive senator from Vermont on Friday highlighted that he would like to see in a potential fourth coronavirus relief package that Congress is considering.
President Trump signed into law a week ago a massive $2 trillion stimulus package known as the CARES Act that was overwhelmingly passed in a bipartisan vote by Congress.
The measure — intended to help workers, small businesses and larger companies survive a devastating economic downturn caused by the shutting down of economic activity, as most Americans huddle in their homes to prevent the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus — included a one-time $1,200 check for individuals making up to $75,000 per year. The stipend, which provided a smaller benefit for those making more than $99,000 per year, also included additional payments of $500 per child.
Many Democrats, plus Sanders, have argued the one-time payment was not nearly enough to help workers.
“We must provide direct, recurring, monthly payments to every person in the country, regardless of income, tax filing, or immigration status. That means reaching every person in the United States, including the undocumented, the homeless, the unbanked, and young adults excluded from the CARES ACT,” Sanders stressed in a post on his campaign website.
Sanders — who remains in the Democratic presidential nomination race even though he significantly trails former Vice President Joe Biden — originally proposed the $2,000-per-month payments in mid-March, when the CARES Act was first being debated by lawmakers.
The senator is also proposing that the next stimulus package should mandate that workers be kept on payrolls, using Medicare to help cover health care costs, insisting that the administration more forcefully use the Defense Production Act to push the private sector to produce much-needed ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses battling the pandemic, hazard pay for those on the frontlines of the emergency, $600 billion in direct aid to states and cities, and emergency food for millions of hungry families.
“In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way. That means that Congress must pass, in the very near future, the boldest piece of legislation ever written in modern history,” Sanders said.
Trump appeared to support the possibility of some kind of additional stimulus package, which he said he hopes would include infrastructure funding.
“With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4.”
But the top two Republicans in Congress — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California — right now have indicated they are opposed to a quick move to pass another stimulus package.