Bernie Sanders Slams GOP for 'Turning Their Backs' After McConnell Blocks Stimulus

Bernie Sanders slammed Senate Republicans for "turning their backs" on Americans after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a Democratic effort to boost stimulus checks to from $600 to $2,000 on Tuesday.

"We are at a historic moment. Do we turn our backs on working families who are hurting like they have never hurt before? Or do we provide them with the help they need?" Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, tweeted Tuesday.

"Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are turning their backs. Enough! Let the Senate vote on $2,000 checks!" he added.

We are at a historic moment. Do we turn our backs on working families who are hurting like they have never hurt before? Or do we provide them with the help they need?

Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are turning their backs. Enough! Let the Senate vote on $2,000 checks! https://t.co/s8hHB1AqeK

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 29, 2020

On Monday, the House of Representatives passed the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (CASH) Act in a 275-134 bipartisan vote. The measure would increase stimulus checks from $600 for individuals, as provided in the current relief package, to $2,000, following a demand from President Donald Trump to do so.

In response, McConnell said Tuesday that his chamber would "begin a process" to consider the coronavirus relief demands, but quickly blocked two efforts to pass the legislation unanimously.

Speaking from the Senate floor, McConnell noted a list of demands that Trump has issued, which includes increasing direct payments to $2,000, investigating the 2020 election, and regulating large technology companies including Twitter and Facebook via a repeal of Section 230.

"This week the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus," he said. But when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for unanimous consent from the Senate floor to boost the stimulus payments to $2,000, McConnell swiftly objected.

"The fastest way to get money into Americans' pockets is to send some of their tax dollars right back from where they came," Schumer said on the floor. "Two-thousand dollar stimulus checks could mean the difference between American families having groceries for a few extra weeks or going hungry."

Minutes later, Sanders asked for unanimous consent to raise the payments after Wednesday's vote on the National Defense Authorization Act, but McConnell rejected that as well.

Bernie Sanders
Senator Bernie Sanders slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday for blocking a Democratic effort to increase stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000. Here, Sanders speaks at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., on September 24. NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty

Instead of allowing the efforts to quickly pass on Tuesday, McConnell introduced a combination bill that ties the $2,000 direct payments with Trump's request to regulate technology companies and commission an election fraud study.

But Schumer criticized this approach and accused McConnell of attempting to kill the stimulus checks by adding "unrelated, partisan provisions" to the CASH Act.

"Senator McConnell knows how to make $2,000 survival checks reality and he knows how to kill them. If Sen. McConnell tries loading up the bipartisan passed CASH Act with unrelated, partisan provisions that will do absolutely nothing to help struggling families across the country, it will not pass the House and cannot become law," he said in a statement Tuesday.

"Any move like this by Senator McConnell would be a blatant attempt to deprive Americans of a $2,000 survival check," he added.

In an effort to increase the pressure, Sanders threatened to delay the Senate's vote to override Trump's veto of the defense spending package on Wednesday, unless McConnell allows the chamber to vote on the $2,000 payments as introduced by the CASH Act.

"I think Leader McConnell is going to tell us what's going to happen, but I would say that at a time when two-thirds of the House voted to provide those $2,000 checks, the overwhelming majority of Americans want that. Trump wants it, Biden wants it, Pelosi wants it, Schumer wants it. Let's have a vote, and let's pass this damn thing," Sanders said on Tuesday, according to ABC News.

On Tuesday, Trump weighed in on the matter, telling Republicans that passing the increased stimulus checks was "the right thing to do."

"Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP. $600 IS NOT ENOUGH!" Trump tweeted. He added, "Also, get rid of Section 230 - Don't let Big Tech steal our Country, and don't let the Democrats steal the Presidential Election."

Newsweek reached out to Sanders for additional comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.