Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is receiving praise for his fiery floor speech in defense of the proposed unemployment expansion to the coronavirus aid bill that ultimately passed the Senate on Wednesday night.
“Now I find that some of my Republican colleagues are very distressed,” Sanders said in a video of the speech. “They’re very upset that somebody who’s making 10, 12 bucks an hour might end up with a paycheck for four months, more than they received last week.”
As reported by CNBC, four Republican Senators — Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse, Tim Scott, and Rick Scott — threatened to hold up the relief bill in protest of a proposal to add $600 per week to unemployment benefits for up to four months. In response, Sanders vowed to oppose the corporate bailout fund of approximately $500 billion and hold up the bill if his GOP colleagues did not stand down.
Sanders’ defense of working Americans was praised on social media, who credited him with ensuring that the bill passed without succumbing to Republican amendments.
“3.3 million jobless claims,” tweeted Ring of Fire co-host Farron Cousins. “Thank God that Bernie Sanders fought for the unemployment expansion. He’s the only person fighting for everyday people.”
“So pretty much Bernie Sanders stopped GOP senators from decimating the most decent part of stimulus bill, the part that matched his initial demand for expanded unemployment insurance,” tweeted Shadowproof managing editor Kevin Gosztola.
“Bernie is fighting for the working class when we need it most,” tweeted congressional candidate Jen Perelman.
As reported by ABC News, the coronavirus pandemic has fueled record levels of unemployment in the United States. In the week ending on March 21, U.S. Department of Labor data released on Thursday reported that 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment, which is a 3 million increase from the previous week.
According to the data, the service industry — accommodation and food service in particular — was hit the hardest. Other sectors that were significantly impacted are arts, health care and social assistance, entertainment and recreation, and warehouse/manufacturing.
Per NBC News, the COVID-19 package with the unemployment provision ultimately passed the Senate late Wednesday with a 96-0 vote. The bill is now hinging on the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was previously accused by Republicans of using the pandemic to push her own wish list of items into the coronavirus package.
Although Pelosi claimed that the $2 trillion bill would help American workers, she has yet to confirm whether she will throw her support behind the package. However, she has voiced support for the provision to provide unemployed workers with an additional $600.