For Immediate Release

Ahead of Hearing, Ocasio-Cortez Condemns the Real Estate Industry’s Request to Use Federal Bailout Funds to Enrich Shareholders

WASHINGTON - Today, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) and six Members of the House released a letter calling on the Trump administration to reject the real estate industry’s request to use federal ‘bailout’ funds to enrich their shareholders.  Though the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act explicitly prohibits corporate recipients from using the $4 trillion in available federal stimulus funding for dividends, NAREIT, the industry representative of real estate investment trusts (REITs), is actively lobbying the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to grant them a waiver.

“It is imperative that during a national moment of hardship we hold entities using public funds accountable and ensure every cent doled out by the Treasury or the Federal Reserve is appropriately used. Therefore, we strongly urge you to reject NAREIT’s request for a waiver under sections 4003(b)(4) and 4003(c)(3)(D) of the CARES Act,” reads the letter. “It was the intent of Congress in including those provisions to reign in irresponsible corporate behavior and to prohibit federal dollars from being used to artificially inflate stock prices, enrich shareholders, or compensate executives with exorbitant pay packages when so many hard-working, ordinary Americans do not know where their next paycheck will come from and in too many cases are ineligible for stimulus checks or unemployment benefits.”

The full letter is available here.  Other co-signers include Representatives Chuy Garcia, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Jan Schakowsky and Ilhan Omar.  The letter was also supported by UNITE HERE Local 11, which represents workers at hotels owned by REITs that are currently seeking a waiver to the CARES Act provision.

“It is unconscionable that Park Hotels & Resorts paid a $105 million dividend to wealthy shareholders during the pandemic while workers at its 60 hotels around the U.S. and Puerto Rico were laid off. If REITs like Park want stimulus funds, they must use taxpayer aid to keep workers employed,” said UNITE HERE Local 11 Co-President Kurt Petersen.

The release of this letter comes ahead of a virtual hearing hosted by the House Financial Services Committee on “Capital Markets and Worker Protections in the COVID-19 Era,” in which the Congresswoman will be participating. The hearing will include discussion of four bills the Congresswoman has previously introduced, including one that would prohibit companies who accept a federal bailout from laying-off workers.

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Brief descriptions and links to the Congresswoman’s bills that are being discussed in today’s hearing follow.

H.R. 6778: To amend the Coronavirus Economic Stabilization Act of 2020 to place certain requirements on corporations receiving Federal aid related to COVID-19, (Ocasio-Cortez): this bill prohibits corporations that receive specified federal aid related to the COVID-19 pandemic from reducing workforce levels, employee benefits, or wages; or from altering any existing collective bargaining agreements until the later of either the termination of the COVID-19 public health emergency or until the aid has been repaid.

H.R. 6827, Corporate Accountability Act (Ocasio-Cortez): this bill requires corporations that receive federal aid related to COVID-19 to provide at least 14 days of fully paid leave to all workers; pay each employee a wage of not less than $15 an hour; and limit CEO executive compensation.

H.R. 6851, To require major corporations receiving Federal aid related to COVID-19 to make annual payments of equity to employees of the corporation while such aid is outstanding, and for other purposes (Ocasio-Cortez): This bill requires major corporations that receive federal aid related to COVID-19 to make an annual grant of equity to employees until such federal aid is repaid. 

H.R. 6852, To prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from waiving the requirements on stock buybacks, paying out dividends, and capping executive compensation, related to COVID-19 emergency relief and taxpayer protections to such relief. (Ocasio-Cortez)

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for New York's 14th congressional district. 

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