Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over his opposition to stimulus checks on an Instagram livestream on Thursday night.
Ocasio-Cortez has repeatedly called for a $1,200 direct payment to be included in the relief bill Congress is aiming to pass during the lame-duck session.
The freshman congresswoman also argued that Republicans haven’t been “in a rush” to pass additional stimulus legislation because Wall Street was already given a massive bailout last spring.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez briefed her followers on the state of Congress’ COVID-19 relief bill negotiations and slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over his opposition to stimulus checks during an Instagram livestream on Thursday night.
Ocasio-Cortez has repeatedly called for a $1,200 direct payment to be included in the relief bill Congress is aiming to pass during the lame-duck session. She pointed out that some Republicans, including Sen. Josh Hawley, also support stimulus checks, but argued that Sen. McConnell is leading the resistance.
“This is a matter of Mitch McConnell not wanting a check,” she told nearly the nearly 40,000 people who tuned in to watch her “Cooking and Q&A” session.
Congress is currently negotiating a bipartisan $908 billion proposal – a far less aggressive package than the $2.2 trillion bill Democrats passed in October. But many Republicans are still demanding a slimmer aid package that focuses on small businesses and vaccine distribution and includes a liability shield to protect corporations from virus-related lawsuits. GOP lawmakers are also largely opposed to sending additional funding to strapped state and local governments.
Ocasio-Cortez called the liability shield proposal a “corporate bailout.” She argued that allowing Republicans to include the liability protections in the bill in exchange for stimulus checks or state and local government funding would be a bad deal for workers.
“You may get a $1,200 check on one hand, but you may also get a multi-million hospital bill with no recourse and no ability to protect yourself from a negligent corporation or employer,” she said. “Why do we need to exchange people’s well being and ability to survive for yet another corporate bailout?”
Other progressive lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders’ have also demanded stimulus checks in the bill and decried the liability shield.
The freshman congresswoman also argued that Republicans haven’t been “in a rush” to pass additional stimulus legislation because Wall Street was already given a massive bailout last spring. About one-fifth of the $4 trillion in stimulus that the federal government has spent since the pandemic hit has gone to workers and families. About $2.3 trillion went to businesses, many of which didn’t have to show that they were hurt by the pandemic or they would use the money to prevent layoffs.
Democrats in the House passed the $2.2 trillion HEROES Act in May and then again in October. Ahead of the November election, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin failed to negotiate a slightly smaller stimulus backed by the White House, while in October the Senate proposed a slimmed-down $500 stimulus package that was blocked by Democrats.
“What keeps me up at night was that it was short-term relief that was really important and really necessary … but what we gave away to Wall Street was so large and so structural that, frankly, that’s why Republicans and Mitch McConnell has not been in a rush,” she said.
President-elect Joe Biden has promised to pass an additional stimulus when he takes office in late January, but Americans are in desperate need of help before then. If Congress fails to pass a new relief bill in the next nine days, almost 12 million Americans could lose their unemployment benefits in late December, millions could be evicted from their homes, and millions more will again be on the hook for student loan payments after January 31.
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