"PLEASE CALL YOUR MEMBER if you have any doubt whatsoever on what their stance is," the New York Democrat tweeted. "And if you don't want your member to vote for a $600 deal, you really need to tell them that. Don't think 'oh I voted for a Dem, we'll be fine.' No. If there's an amount that's too little, or any other red line that you want them to vote NO on, then you need to tell them that."
The proposal currently under discussion, which costs about $900 billion, is expected to include a second stimulus check, boosted unemployment benefits, additional funding for small businesses and another round of aid for the nation's beleaguered airline industry. The drafted measure excludes two of the most contentious issues: funding for state and local governments and a liability shield for businesses against coronavirus-related lawsuits.
While congressional leaders are still hammering out the details of the stimulus package – and nothing will be finalized until the legislative text is released – Americans will likely receive less direct cash assistance than they did in the March CARES Act.
Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., told reporters Wednesday the proposal would likely include direct checks to individuals of $600 to $700, about half the size of the payments included in the previous stimulus package that Congress passed.
Under the CARES Act, Americans who earned less than $75,000 received a stimulus check worth $1,200, and dependents under the age of 17 received $500, meaning a family of five could receive up to $3,900. The payments were tapered for higher earners and cut off completely for individuals who earned more than $99,000.
Last week, Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., unveiled a bipartisan proposal that would attach an amendment for a second $1,200 check to a spending bill that needs to pass by Dec. 18 in order to avoid a government shutdown.
Both senators had threatened to use the Friday government funding deadline to try to force a vote on the stimulus checks.
The Democratic Congressional Progressive Caucus pledged to block any relief measure that did not include a stimulus check. In a letter to congressional leaders, the caucus argued that the relief bill should include direct payments of at least $2,000. But some deficit-weary Republicans have balked at another massive, trillion-dollar aid package.
Lawmakers are running out of time to attach the $900 billion deal to a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending deal, which needs to pass by Friday in order to prevent a government shutdown at midnight. That gives leaders just a few days to finalize the aid package and spending bill, approve them in both chambers and send to President Trump's desk for his signature.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor Thursday that it was "highly likely" lawmakers would need to work through the weekend and suggested they may have to pass a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown for a "very, very short, short window of time."
"Let's make a law as soon as possible," he said. "That's what our people deserve."