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To Counter 'Corporate Handout' Pushed by McConnell, Progressives Intensify Demand for #AJustStimulus

"Republicans under Mitch McConnell want to turn the coronavirus rescue bill into a slush fund that Trump can use for corporate handouts, and we have to stop them."

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks during a news briefing after the weekly Senate Republican Policy Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol February 11, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks during a news briefing after the weekly Senate Republican Policy Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol February 11, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Progressives on Monday renewed their demand for #AJustStimulus to mitigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic as the GOP continues to push a vote on a measure critics say could amount to "another corporate handout."

"Republicans under Mitch McConnell want to turn the coronavirus rescue bill into a slush fund that Trump can use for corporate handouts, and we have to stop them," advocacy group People's Action said in letter to supporters Monday morning.

The legislation in question is the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES. Democrats late Sunday successfully blocked the bill from moving forward, as Common Dreams reported.

"We voted no on the McConnell-GOP bill because among other problems it includes huge bailouts without protections for people and workers and without accountability, and because it shortchanges our hospitals and healthcare workers who need our help," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)  "These changes need to be made."

As bipartisan negotiations on the stimulus package continued Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) highlighted what he said were problematic aspects of the GOP proposal:

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"The disagreement isn't over how much—it's over *who* benefits," added Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) "Senate Democrats want to help hourly workers, service industry employees, and small businesses. Senator McConnell wants to bail out corporate executives and Donald Trump himself."

Earlier reporting suggested a procedural vote was set for 9:45 am Monday, but a vote now appears sets for after noon when the chamber reconvenes—a time frame adding urgency to demands from within the administration as well as from progressive groups.

"We need to get this deal done today," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin—who took part in a Sunday meeting to hammer out details of the bill with Schumer, McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)—told CNBC on Monday.

Schumer suggested Sunday night some improvements had been made. "We're closer than we've been at any time over the past 48 hours to an agreement, but there are still too many problems in the proposed legislation," he said.

But according to Monday reporting by Politico, sticking points linger, including a $500 billion Treasury Department-controlled fund to help businesses hit by economic impacts of the pandemic. The Republicans' plan "would mostly prevent companies that accept the money from buying back their own stock."

But that restriction could be waived by the Treasury Secretary—a source of significant contention for Democrats, who object to provisions that allow Mnuchin to withhold the names of the companies that receive federal money—as well as the amount—for up to six months at his discretion.

Democrats are also arguing that the package doesn't do enough to prevent layoffs and that a two-year time frame on executive compensation limits is not enough.

In an email to members of People's Action on Monday morning, the progressive advocacy group's Derrick Crowe explained that a blueprint for a just rescue package—"instead of corporate giveaways"—should include:

  • Paid sick and family leave for households hit by the virus, regardless of employer size, immigrant status and including independent contractors;
  • Emergency cash assistance on an ongoing basis, starting with $2,000 immediately to every adult, monthly for the length of the crisis;
  • A Homes Guarantee including zero rent and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures;
  • A ban on essential utility shut-offs like heat, water, and electricity;
  • and Student debt forgiveness to save people from financial ruin, as well as refunding students on room and board, tuition, and healthcare for this semester.

Immigrant rights group Make the Road NY also outlined a number of progressive recommendations, including that working immigrant families be among the recipients of aid:

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"Mitch McConnell is playing chicken and betting that Democrats will give in," the Indivisible team said Sunday night. "Our message has to be impossible to ignore. To Dems: keep fighting. To Republicans: #peopleoverprofits."

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