“Congress cannot go home for the Christmas holidays until we pass legislation which provides a $1,200 direct payment to working class adults, $2,400 for couples, and a $500 payment to their children,” the Vermont senator said on Monday.
So far, direct payments to Americans are not part of the $908 billion bipartisan compromise deal being championed by other senators to help deal with the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Sanders argues that as a result of coronavirus, tens of millions of Americans are facing economic desperation.
“They can’t afford to pay their rent and face eviction, they can’t afford to go to the doctor, they can’t afford to feed their children and they are going deeper and deeper into debt,” he said.
Despite many economists arguing in favour of individual stimulus payments as a method of keeping consumer demand going, their inclusion in any federal economic response does not look likely until after President-elect Joe Biden takes office in late January.
In an interview with Politico, Mr Sanders urged Democrats to reject the current bill being tabled by the bipartisan congressional group, describing it as “totally inadequate”.
He said it fell far short of what was needed being only $748bn and not the original proposal of $3.4 trillion.
“What kind of negotiation is it when you go from $3.4 trillion to $188 billion in new money? That is not a negotiation. That is a collapse,” the independent senator told the outlet. “We cannot go home until there [are] strong unemployment benefits plus $1,200 per adult, $500 per kid for every working person and family in this country.”
Mr Sanders has found support from the other side of the aisle — Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri agrees that relief checks should be part of any proposal, however the total cost of the bill would then be elevated to a point that would make conservatives unlikely to support it.