pandemic relief

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ABC News

After winning the 2020 presidential election and securing two crucial Senate seats from Georgia, Democrats now control the Executive Branch along with both the House of Representatives and the Senate, ending the years-long Republican stranglehold of Congress and the White House.

Republicans' Senate majority was marked by then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) unwillingness to bring bills passed by the Democratic House to the Senate floor, as well as his refusal to consider a Supreme Court Justice nominee from former President Barack Obama in 2016, claiming it was too close to the 2016 election to fill a Supreme Court seat.

McConnell infamously reversed this position by confirming former President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee—now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett—to the Court, even as Americans were casting their votes in the 2020 election that saw Trump defeated.

McConnell's near-unwavering refusal to work with Democrats in the Senate defined his tenure as Majority Leader and secured him the nickname of "Grim Reaper."

With the Senate split evenly and Vice President Kamala Harris tasked with breaking any tied votes, Democrats have a narrow but functional majority, prompting many of their constituents to urge them to take advantage of this by passing bold legislation, including an ambitious new wave of pandemic relief.

Meanwhile, Republicans have cited President Joe Biden's pledge for unity to pressure Democrats into treading lightly, especially when it comes to the long-awaited pandemic relief bill.

Progressive Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) is not having any of it.

Sanders was asked by ABC News' Martha Raddatz about Democrats' willingness to work with Republicans and made clear that appealing to Republican lawmakers' better natures wouldn't be his first priority.

Watch below.

"The issue is not bipartisanship or not," Sanders said. "The issue is are we gonna address the incredible set of crises and the pain and the anxiety which is in this country. You know what? I don't care what anybody says."

He continued:

"So the question is not bipartisanship, the question is addressing the unprecedented crises that we face right now. If Republicans want to work with us, if they have better ideas on how to address those crises, that's great. But to be honest with you, I have not yet heard that."

Democrats are currently pushing for a $1.9 trillion relief package that includes $1400 checks to most American adults, along with additional aid to a range of cities and states battling the pandemic that's killed over 400 thousand Americans.

Republicans have alternatively supported a less expensive package with lesser, more targeted direct relief and virtually no state and local aid.

People largely sided with Senator Sanders in his evaluation.






For many, the Republican proposal comes up too short.



Democrats were hoping to get the support of 10 Republican Senators for a filibuster-proof majority, but may have to bypass the filibuster for a simple majority vote along party lines through a process ironically called "reconciliation." Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said this is a step he's willing to take.