If one thing has been made clear by the weeks of negotiations over the second covid relief bill, it’s that many of our country’s lawmakers don’t give a shit about everyday Americans, particularly those facing thousands of dollars in owed rent, possible eviction, and lapses in unemployment benefits.
Bernie Sanders is one of few exceptions to this rule, and in this particular instance, the sole person who cared enough to think to filibuster the Senate for as long as it takes for $2,000 stimulus checks to pass.
According to Politico, Sanders will filibuster any attempt by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to override Trump’s defense veto unless he agrees to the $2,000 payments the House approved on Monday. (Mind you, Sanders and several other members of the party have been calling for $2,000 checks from the start; Sanders, incoming Vice President Kamala Harris, and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey coauthored legislation in May to make them monthly.)
“The American people are desperate, and the Senate has got to do its job before leaving town,” Sanders told the outlet. “It would be unconscionable, especially after the House did the right thing, for the Senate to simply leave Washington without voting on this.”
Though Sanders can’t actually stop the override, he can stall it, and he said he’s prepared to do so until New Year’s Day.
Rarely do lawmakers attempt to change what they perceive as being inevitable. Recently, the Democratic response to apparent political inevitabilities has been to run toward them in hopes of getting things over with as quickly as possible. This has never been Sanders’s style. In 2010, Sanders spoke for eight-and-a-half hours in protest of bipartisan legislation devised by McConnell and then-Vice President Joe Biden that sought to extend Bush-era tax cuts.
“You can call what I am doing today whatever you want. You can call it a filibuster. You can call it a very long speech,” Sanders said at the time. “I am simply here today to take as long as I can to explain to the American people the fact that we have to do a lot better than this agreement provides.”
This week, Sanders goes to bat for us again. I hope he has comfortable shoes!