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 Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y., L) speaks to the media as Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) listens at a press conference on Capitol Hill on July 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Tasos Katopidis/Getty Images)

The youth-led climate activists at Sunrise Movement are calling on the two top Senate Democrats—soon-to-be Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.)—to "embrace a bold agenda in the upcoming Congress." (Photo: Tasos Katopidis/Getty Images) 

Sunrise Movement to Rally in NYC, Chicago, Calling on Senate Dems to Tackle Pandemic and Unemployment Crises

The youth-led climate action group called on Sens. Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin to use their new majority "to deliver on the needs of the people who backed their victory."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer

The youth-led climate justice organization Sunrise Movement is preparing to host socially distanced rallies in New York City and Chicago on Saturday to urge the top two Senate Democrats—soon-to-be Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin, the party whip—to "embrace a bold agenda" for pandemic relief, economic recovery, and a more inclusive democracy. 

The rallies will take place in Brooklyn's Prospect Park at 1:30 pm Eastern time and at Chicago Federal Plaza at 1:00 pm Central time. Sunrise is calling for:

  • Direct relief for the American people, not to corporate CEOs or fossil fuel polluters;
  • Economic recovery that creates millions of good jobs, halts the climate crisis, and reverses systemic inequality by ensuring racial and economic justice; and
  • End to minority rule and the beginning of a multiracial democracy that works for all of us through true democratic reform.

In a series of tweets, Sunrise implored Democrats including Schumer (N.Y.) and Durbin (Ill.) to keep the promises they made to the American people, who are struggling to survive the twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and unemployment. Some 26.8 million U.S. workers "are either unemployed, otherwise out of work because of the virus, or have seen a drop in hours and pay because of the pandemic," according to economist Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute. 

On Thursday, Sunrise Movement political director Evan Weber praised parts of President-elect Joe Biden's nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief package as "bold," while taking Democrats to task for their professed belief that Republicans will work with them to deliver desperately needed relief to the American people.

"While the American Rescue Plan itself is bold, the plan to pass it relying on Republican support is delusional and dangerous," Weber said in a statement. "Republicans are the party that just incited a violent insurrection of Confederates on the nation's Capitol in an attempt to invalidate the election."

In addition to obstructionist Republicans, Schumer will be forced to contend with deficit-hawk Democrats from more conservative states including Joe Manchin (W.V.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), and John Tester (Mont.) who will test the razor-thin Democratic majority in the Senate. 

Progressive Senate Democrats, on the other hand, are ready to spend and do what it takes to get help to the people who need it most. 

"I'll work with President-elect Biden to strengthen and pass this package immediately," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted Friday. "If the Republicans want to drag their feet while working families struggle, the Democratic majority should use every legislative tool available to pass it."

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