Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez only had 30 seconds on Thursday afternoon to share her frustration with her opponents on the Republican side of the aisle as the U.S. House of Representatives debated the next phase of federal legislation aimed at providing economic relief for the crisis spurred by the coronavirus outbreak.
While the package passed Tuesday by the Senate is expected to also receive approval in the House later in the day, the Democrat from New York is among those progressives who have expressed deep criticism of the bill. In her brief remarks Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez said it was laughable for GOP lawmakers to claim they are doing anything other than serving the wealthy and corporate interests of large companies as they continue to fight against meaningful economic proposals that would center the needs of working-class families, low-income people, small business owners, and others suffering most from the pandemic.
"It is a joke when Republicans say that they have urgency around this bill," she said. "The only folks that they urgency around are Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and Shake Shack—those are the people getting assistance in this bill. You are not trying fix this bill for mom and pops."
.@RepAOC @AOC: "It is a joke when Republicans say that they have urgency around this bill...you are not trying fix this bill for mom & pops. We have to fight to fund hospitals. Fighting to fund testing...It is unconscionable."
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 23, 2020
While referencing large restaurant chains that will benefit disproportionately from the new relief package that includes over $300 billion in additional funding for a flawed small business loan program, Ocasio-Cortez said the legislation does little to help those struggling to make ends meet.
"If you had urgency, you would legislate like rent was due on May 1st and make sure that we include rent and mortgage relief for our constituents," she said.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also rose ahead of the vote to decry its inadequacies.
In days, we will lose more American lives than during the Vietnam War.
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26 million Americans are unemployed from COVID. Body bags piling up. Insufficient testing or PPE.
Every minute is a death, a family devastated, a business shuttered.
We MUST think—and deliver—bigger. pic.twitter.com/9REBk5TLwu
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) April 23, 2020
Ahead of the vote in the House, a broad coalition of progressive groups on Wednesday sent a letter to Democratic lawmakers urging them to vote against the Senate approved legislation, known as COVID 3.5, as it fails key tests in terms of putting the needs of people, families, and Main Street businesses ahead of corporate interests and the greed of industry.
“This Covid 3.5 package is nothing close to what families and workers need right now.” https://t.co/XJ6gvrJS1w
— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam) April 23, 2020
"We call on all progressive House members to make clear now that you will oppose any bill in the next round that does not put the majority of focus on the People's agenda that Americans desperately need and expect from our elected leaders," the letter stated. "To achieve this, we believe it's critical that the House go first and pass a Democratic bill early in the next round to set the terms of debate, maximize leverage, and honor all the voters who turned out in 2018 to elect a Democratic House."