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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., arrives at the Capitol for a vote on a coronavirus bill amendment on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., arrives at the Capitol for a vote on a coronavirus bill amendment on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Sanders Threatens to Demand Stronger Conditions on $500 Billion 'Corporate Welfare Fund' If GOP Moves to Reduce Benefits for Laid Off Workers

"It would be an outrage to prevent working-class Americans to receive the emergency unemployment assistance included in this legislation."

Jon Queally

In direct response to three Republicans threatening to delay the massive $2 trillion stimulus bill agreed to by Senate leaders because they deemed unemployment benefits for American workers in the package too generous, Sen. Bernie Sanders said Wednesday afternoon that he would retaliate in kind if the demand to reduce the financial support for those who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus is not dropped.

"Unless Republican Senators drop their objections to the coronavirus legislation, I am prepared to put a hold on this bill until stronger conditions are imposed on the $500 billion corporate welfare fund," Sanders declared, shortly after Sens.  Lindsey Graham (SC), Tim Scott (SC), and Ben Sasse (NE) threatened to delay the Senate bill.

As Common Dreams reported, the three GOP senators claimed in a joint statement that there exists "a massive drafting error in the current version of the coronavirus relief legislation"—but what they really seem to be arguing is simply that the benefits provided to workers in the bill should be reduced.

"In my view," said Sanders in a statement, "it would be an outrage to prevent working-class Americans to receive the emergency unemployment assistance included in this legislation."

Sanders said that unless Graham, Scott, and Sasse—who said at a press conference they will withold their support unless they receive a vote on an amendment to scrape back the benefits—"drop their objections," he is prepared to demand that "any corporation receiving financial assistance under this legislation does not lay off workers, cut wages or benefits, ship jobs overseas, or pay workers poverty wages."

The Vermont senator's objection to the corporate bailout portion of the massive bill has been shared by other progressive critics who worry that even with so-called "oversight" protections, the massive fund will be used by corporations to pad their bottom lines while disregarding the needs of workers.

 


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