Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) on Wednesday both threatened a possible delay in voting on the massive $2 trillion economic-stimulus package working its way through Congress.
Sanders objected to an amendment proposed on Wednesday afternoon by Senators Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), and Tim Scott (R., S.C.) that would cap unemployment benefits at a worker’s previous salary level.
“I cannot at the last minute allow some right-wing senators [to] try to undermine the needs of workers and think they are going to get away with that,” Sanders told the New York Times. He added that he would vote for the stimulus if the group of Republicans dropped their proposed amendment, and called the current draft of the bill “far superior” to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s (R., Ky.) original draft.
“The reason I know I’m right is that Bernie Sanders has just threatened me,” Graham countered in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “This is Bernie Sanders on steroids. . . . He could not win at the ballot box, but he’s winning in this bill.”
Sasse told National Review that the Republican senators worry the text of the bill allows workers to make more money “by being unemployed than if the employer-employee relationship were maintained.”
Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez said she may request a “recorded vote” on the stimulus in the House, which would force House members currently not in Washington, D.C., to return to vote in person. She has said she is worried the stimulus will favor large corporations at the expense of workers.
“With the health risks of travel, there is no easy choice here,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN. “But essential workers are showing up and putting their health at risk every day, and if the final text of a bill is set up to hurt them, [a recorded vote] may be something we have to do.“
House speaker Nancy Pelosi favors holding a vote by unanimous consent, in which case one House member could block the bill’s passage by voting against.