Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib on Tuesday slammed a new bipartisan coronavirus relief proposal as out of touch with the needs and desires of the U.S. public over the plan's exclusion of another round of direct stimulus payments, a form of aid that's overwhelmingly popular among Americans across the political spectrum.
"The fact that 'no stimulus checks' is on this list shows the disconnect of the Senate with people on the ground," the Michigan Democrat tweeted Tuesday in response to a summary of what the $908 billion proposal does and does not include.
A leading supporter of a far more ambitious plan to provide $1,000 per month to every person in the U.S., Tlaib pointed to a September Gallup survey showing that 70% of Americans—82% of Democrats, 64% of Republicans, and 66% of Independents—believe the federal government should send out another one-time economic impact payment.
"There may not be bipartisan support for an additional check, but there is support outside of Congress," said Tlaib. "Seven out of 10 want direct payments."
The fact that "no stimulus checks" is on this list shows the disconnect of the Senate with people on the ground.
There may not be bipartisan support for an additional check, but there is support outside of Congress.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) December 1, 2020
Presented as an effort to break a months-long stalemate over coronavirus relief, the compromise proposal unveiled by a group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Tuesday includes $240 billion in aid to struggling state and local governments, $300 billion for a small business loan program, and a $300-per-week federal boost to unemployment insurance—just half of the highly effective $600-per-week benefit that the GOP let expire at the end of July.
The plan, which has yet to be finalized, was introduced Tuesday morning by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Angus King (I-Maine), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and House members of the Problem Solvers Caucus.
On top of relief funding, the bipartisan proposal also calls for a six-month liability shield for corporations, a long-time priority of Republicans that progressive lawmakers, worker and consumer advocates, and small businesses have decried as a green light for large companies to recklessly expose their employees and customers to the coronavirus.
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"The proposed 'temporary liability shield' is a permission slip for corporations to fail to protect their workers from the spread of Covid-19—at the very moment the virus's spread is accelerating and we most need corporations to act responsibly to prevent its spread," the National Employment Law Project tweeted Tuesday.
The Daily Poster's David Sirota and Julia Rock characterized the proposed liability shield—which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has called his "red line"—as a "holiday-season gift for corporate donors" that "would strip frontline workers of their last remaining legal tool to protect themselves in the workplace."
Given the costs of doing nothing in the face of dire economic circumstances and a surging pandemic, some progressives stressed the importance of passing additional coronavirus relief before the end of the year—even if the legislative package under consideration is flawed and inadequate.
"This is not stimulus and more will be needed later—but immediate relief is needed now," Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told the Washington Post's Jeff Stein. "That's what the senators are talking about. We cannot wait."
Yes. We need to go big on COVID response. But I also want to be clear that we need emergency #ReliefNow. The bipartisan group of Senators working on emergency relief are doing what’s absolutely necessary. Then, in January we fight for the full package from higher ground. https://t.co/dEqTcis5AN
— Sara Nelson (@FlyingWithSara) December 1, 2020
In a speech introducing his team of economic advisers on Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden said any bill approved during the lame-duck session will likely be "at best just a start." If Democrats hope to pass anything close to the ambitious relief package they have demanded in recent months, they must take control of the Senate by winning both run-off races in Georgia on January 5.
"House Democrats want to enact a Covid relief bill for working families. We want another round of stimulus checks. We want to extend unemployment insurance benefits," tweeted Rep.-elect Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.). "But if we don't help Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff win in Georgia, Mitch McConnell will keep standing in our way."
In a statement, Nelson voiced agreement with Biden that a lame-duck relief bill "is not—and cannot be—the last Covid package."
"But American workers and the U.S. economy are teetering on the brink of disaster. We cannot afford weeks or months longer without federal rescue aid," said Nelson. "The day after Christmas, 12 million workers will lose access to any unemployment benefits and as many as 40 million will be put at risk of eviction. Utilities will be cut off, student loan payments resume, coronavirus paid leave ends. Bread lines that already stretch miles will grow longer."
"This crisis is bigger than any previous economic crisis of the last hundred years combined," Nelson added. "We need to act like it."