BY CHRISTINA ZHAO ON 6/6/21 (Newsweek.com)
In March, the Democratic-controlled House passed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in a 220-211 vote, with all Republicans and one Democrat opposing it. The final House vote on the amended legislation came after Senate Democrats used a budget process called reconciliation to pass the legislation in the upper chamber without Republican support.
“Here’s a radical idea: majority rule. Not a single Republican voted to provide a $1,400 direct payment to the working class or a $3,000 Child Tax Credit. The Senate passed this important legislation with 51 votes. We must do the same with the American Jobs and Family plans,” tweeted Sanders, an independent.
Apart from the direct payments, the landmark stimulus measure also included $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, an extension of the federal unemployment benefits, $130 billion to assist school re-openings and $160 billion for the development and distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
Democrats decided to use reconciliation after weeks of negotiations with party moderates and Republicans. At the time, progressives condemned the concessions made to appease moderate Democrats, including as lowering the federal unemployment benefit boost from $400 to $300 and applying stricter income thresholds to the checks.
The $15 federal minimum wage measure was also removed after Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough determined that it violated the rules of the chamber.
Sanders has previously called for Democrats to pass Biden’s $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, which would boost infrastructure, create high-paying jobs to facilitate innovation, and strengthen manufacturing, and the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which would allocate funds for education and tax cuts for families, without Republican support.
In an interview with Axios last month, the progressive senator said he doesn’t “agree” with Biden’s effort to reach across the aisle to strike a deal. “The bottom line is the American people want results,” he said. “Frankly, when people got a, you know, $1,400 check or $5,600 check for their family, they didn’t say, ‘Oh, I can’t cash this check because it was done without any Republican votes.'”
On Saturday, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CNN that Democrats will begin preparing the infrastructure bill on Wednesday for a House vote, after Biden rejected the latest offer presented by Republicans.
“The president still has hope, Joe Manchin still has hope” a bipartisan deal can be reached, she added.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment. This story will be updated with any response.