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"A Covid relief bill that doesn't include enhanced unemployment insurance benefits, workplace protections, paid sick leave, direct cash payments to individuals, national eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, and rental assistance fails to meet the scales and scope of the crisis we're facing," said Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). (Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City)

"A Covid relief bill that doesn't include enhanced unemployment insurance benefits, workplace protections, paid sick leave, direct cash payments to individuals, national eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, and rental assistance fails to meet the scale and scope of the crisis we're facing," said Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). (Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City)

With 'Economy On the Verge of Renewed Carnage,' the Squad Demands Relief Prioritizing Working People

"The next Covid-19 relief package must include stimulus checks," said Rep. Rashida Tlaib. "There is no good reason to exclude it."

Kenny Stancil

With "the economy on the verge of renewed carnage," progressive stalwarts in the U.S. House are demanding urgent and robust relief that meets the pressing needs of the country's working people who have been devastated by the coronavirus crisis. 

Our communities are enduring unprecedented challenges from this pandemic. We can't continue to implement half-hearted policies that fail to meet the moment.
—Rep. Ilhan Omar

While Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Friday expressed his opposition to the bipartisan Covid-19 relief package currently being discussed on Capitol Hill due to its unacceptable privileging of corporate interests over working-class demands for income support, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that Congress "cannot leave" for the year without passing a stimulus bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), as Common Dreams reported earlier this week, has unveiled his own "targeted" proposal that progressives say provides so little assistance for families in the U.S. that it will "cripple" the nation's economy, though it does subsidize corporate business meals. McConnell, critics added, is the "one person standing in the way" of distributing emergency relief.

Although she favored a $2 trillion deal earlier in the year, Pelosi declared that as a result of President-elect Joe Biden's victory and substantial progress on the vaccine front, she is now willing to accept the bipartisan group's $908 billion compromise framework, an announcement that was denounced by Rick Perlstein, a journalist and historian of U.S. conservatism. 

"We could have had a $1.8 trillion Covid relief bill in October with direct payments to the working class to help pay the rent and food," tweeted Warren Gunnels, staff director for Sanders. "It is shameful that we're being asked to support a $900 billion bill with corporate immunity and nothing for the working class."

Citing widespread and worsening economic hardship, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) have made it clear that now is the time to fight for more, not less, with each congresswoman advocating for direct cash relief.

"The next Covid-19 relief package must include stimulus checks," tweeted Tlaib. "There is no good reason to exclude it."

Political economist Stephanie Kelton on Friday told MSNBC that the convergence of expiring moratoria on evictions and student loan debt, on the one hand, and the lack of income support, on the other, is putting the U.S. on a dangerous collision course. 

This analysis was endorsed by the members of the "Squad," who insisted that it's inhumane to deny public aid to America's hard-hit households and then expect them to make payments on mounting bills.

In addition to the lack of stimulus checks in the bipartisan legislation, progressive lawmakers also condemned as "immoral" the proposal's inclusion of a liability provision. Shielding corporations from accountability for endangering public health could disincentivize "common sense safety standards needed to protect workers and consumers," Sanders said Friday, prolonging and worsening an already "bad situation."

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that the negotiations should be made public so that people can "see who is holding stimulus checks hostage and demanding immunity for big corporations exposing workers to Covid-19."

Journalist Brian Goldstone on Friday took to social media to ask: "Remember when Steve Mnuchin suggested that the $1,200 stimulus checks would be enough to last most people 'about 10 weeks,' and was roundly criticized?"

"I just realized," he said, "that was 36 weeks ago."

Pointing out that "there is no vaccine that will cure the economic hardship that Covid-19 has caused our communities," Tlaib on Saturday said that "our country needs to get it together and start taking care of its people during a pandemic."


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