Sanders Skips Coronavirus Stimulus Vote for Virtual Town Hall With AOC, Ilhan Omar

AOC Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I, Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) / Getty Images
March 23, 2020

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) missed Sunday's vote on a coronavirus economic stimulus package to do a virtual town hall about the pandemic.

Sanders skipped the vote to speak from his home in Vermont with supporters and far-left "Squad" congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.). The vote was four days after Sanders snapped at a reporter that he was "dealing with a f—ing global crisis" after being asked about his struggling presidential campaign.

All 47 Senate Democrats in attendance voted against the $1.8 trillion bill on Sunday, keeping it short of the 60 votes needed for advancement. Democrats said the bill lacked oversight for the $500 billion allocated to large corporations selected by the U.S. Treasury Department.

It would have been 48 "nays" if Sanders had attended. He slammed the bill as "vulgar" and said Congress should not give handouts to corporations with no strings attached.

"It is hard for me to believe that, in the midst of this terrible crisis, that we have a Senate Republican bill that will give the Trump administration a blank check to hand out corporate welfare to virtually any corporation in America without conditions as to how they can protect workers in this country," he said.

Ocasio-Cortez called the bill a "complete mockery of public service" during the town hall.

Sanders was the only member who caucuses with the Democrats not to vote on the bill. Five Senate Republicans also missed the vote, albeit for health reasons.

Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) was in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus, and Sens. Mitt Romney (R., Utah) and Mike Lee (R., Utah) said they would also self-quarantine because they'd been in recent contact with Paul. Sen. Rick Scott (R., Fla.) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) were already in quarantine because of their own potential exposure.

Sanders is the only remaining challenger in the 2020 Democratic race to frontrunner Joe Biden, who has taken a commanding delegate lead.