Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said Tuesday that he is putting pressure on Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress to include stimulus checks in the next coronavirus relief package.
According to The Hill, speaking to a group of reporters, Sanders revealed that he is lobbying Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats to provide direct payments of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child.
Party leaders agreed on a $908 billion bill, which does not include stimulus checks. According to Sanders, in reality, the package is much smaller than that because it includes only "$348 billion in new money."
Sanders said it is "absolutely unacceptable" that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans oppose stimulus checks and urged Democratic Party lawmakers to help the working class.
"There's a lot of pain out there. The American people are looking to us for help and Democrats [should] stand up for working families of this country," he stated.
Earlier in the day, together with Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon and Kristen Gilliard of New York, Sanders released a formal letter calling for a more robust economic relief package.
The senator has found an unlikely ally in Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri. Unlike most of his colleagues, Hawley has called for more stimulus checks, urging President Donald Trump and the White House to put pressure on GOP lawmakers in the upper chamber.
Sanders told reporters that he has talked with Hawley, saying that he hopes the Missouri lawmaker will be able to persuade his colleagues to support an additional round of stimulus checks.
"I've talked to Sen. Hawley and I hope very much he can rally some other Republicans," he explained.
"I think Trump supporters out there like everybody else are hurting right now. Many have lost their jobs, many are struggling with issues of eviction. They want that $1,200 and I hope the Republican leadership and members of the Republican caucus understand that."The Washington Post described Sanders and Hawley's collaboration as a "left-right populist alliance," noting that the two senators could make a difference and convince members of both parties that the American people are desperate and in need of stimulus checks as the economy crumbles amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the publication noted, an amendment from Sanders and Hawley would also force members of both parties to go on the record opposing stimulus checks.
Per The Inquisitr, House progressives, such as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have expressed support for the initiative.