Bernie Sanders has a plan to pass COVID relief. GOP says it helps too much.


'He doesn't care. He just wants to spend money!' said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) of Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) support for a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Republican lawmakers in recent days have attacked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), chair of the Senate Budget Committee, for his intent to pass $1.9 trillion in COVID relief, a plan also endorsed by President Joe Biden. GOP senators argue that the Democratic relief proposal is too expensive — and provides too much financial relief to struggling American families.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) tweeted Monday that Sanders and Senate Democrats were "leading the charge to enact a radical liberal agenda that hurts American families."

He attached a video clip of himself in a Fox News appearance this week slamming Sanders for wanting to give too much money to working Americans during the pandemic.

"Bernie Sanders, head of the budget committee for the Democrats, he says he doesn't care if he gets one Republican vote, they don't care about anything. Do you think Bernie Sanders cares how big the budget is? How much, how high your taxes are gonna have to go, what's gonna happen when we can't pay off this debt, what's gonna happen to our interest expenses? No! He doesn't care. He just wants to spend money!" said Scott in the video clip.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-IA) also wrote on Twitter Monday morning that Democrats "want to use COVID for their left-wing agenda."

In a Monday appearance on Fox News, Blackburn criticized Democrats for the expense of their $1.9 trillion plan, claiming that Sanders, not Biden, is behind the bill.

"Everyone wants to see money for vaccines, money for research, but to spend another $1.9 trillion that is not targeted, that is not timely, that is not temporary, is not something that — many of us are not interested in seeing done," Blackburn said. "And I have to tell you, I think there's debate as to whether it is Biden or Bernie in charge of this spending process, because what the Democrats would like to do is push this through reconciliation and thereby not have to work with the Republicans."

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) also took to Fox News this week to blast Sanders as the driving force behind the Democratic bill.

"There's no reason why Joe Biden can't work with Republicans in Congress for bipartisan legislation if he's willing to push Bernie Sanders to the side and work with Republican senators, Republican congressman," Cotton said Monday.

Cotton did not explain the method by which he expected Biden to push Sanders "to the side," as Sanders is a member of the Democratic caucus and chair of the Senate Budget Committee.

But Republican resistance continues to mount toward a COVID relief plan they view as excessively generous.

The Democrats' $1.9 trillion proposal plan is supported by Sanders, although he's said he doesn't believe it goes far enough. It includes state and local funding for COVID relief, extends unemployment benefits until September, gives $1,400 direct payments to individual filers making under $75,000 a year and joint filers making under $150,000 a year, the GOP has lowballed the offer with a counterproposal.

The GOP's proposed $618 billion package includes no state or local funding, extends unemployment benefits only until June 30, and gives direct payments payments to individual filers making up to $50,000 a year and joint filers making up to $100,000. Those payments begin at $1,000 for those at the lowest income threshold and decrease gradually as the recipient's income increases.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, told Politico that he didn't think Democrats could get 60 votes to pass the $1.9 trillion bill because the expense was "out of range" for Republicans.

"Because even the people on our side that would be inclined to want to work with the administration on something like that, that price range is going to be out of range for them," he said. "Absent some change and economic conditions, etc., I think that would be a very heavy lift."

But Sanders has stated that Democrats will, if necessary, use the process of budget reconciliation to push through emergency relief without 60 votes if necessary, since that mechanism would require only a simple majority.

Republicans have stonewalled COVID relief since the beginning of the pandemic, obstructing in the Senate a second round of direct payments to American workers for half a year and fighting against Americans receiving $2,000 checks before Trump left office.

Sanders himself had words for Republicans Monday night: Bipartisanship is secondary to helping Americans in an economic crisis.

"At the end of the day, you know, the media keeps talking about bipartisanship, bipartisanship," Sanders said in an MSNBC appearance. "That's fine. But what is much more important to the average American is that we deal and address the terrible, terrible pain and suffering that they are experiencing right now."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.