Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says She'll Vote Against Stimulus Bill Without Changes
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said Monday that, if reports are true about the contents of an emerging COVID-19 stimulus bill that Congress is negotiating with the White House, she plans to vote against the legislation.
A draft of the bill reportedly includes new funding for hospitals, coronavirus testing and a small business loan program, but omitted key progressive priorities. Left-leaning members of Congress want more aid to cities and states, relief for renters, universal vote-by-mail and aid to undocumented immigrants.
In a press conference held by progressive lawmakers and activists, Ocasio-Cortez said her districtâ€™s suffering inspired her insistence on more ambitious legislation. She represents immigrant-heavy neighborhoods in central Queens with some of the countryâ€™s highest death rates.Â
â€œI am not here for a $5 bill,â€? she said. â€œIâ€™m not â€• and I will not insult my community with one.â€?
Ocasio-Cortez was the only member of Congress who participated in the press conference to threaten a â€œnoâ€? vote, but Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also expressed their tentative worries about it.
Asked whether the CPC would attempt to block the bill, Jayapal replied, â€œWhat you are hearing is the level of concern with what has been proposed.â€?
Like Ocasio-Cortez, Jayapal emphasized that members of Congress have not yet seen the final text of the bill. She also said that the full CPC, which has over 90 House members with a wide range of views, has yet to discuss the legislation as a group.
Even if a group of members wanted to vote â€œnoâ€? or try to assemble a bloc capable of derailing a bill, itâ€™s not clear whether they would get the chance.Â
The $2 trillion stimulus bill that Congress passed in late March only passed by a voice vote because there were not enough members of Congress willing to demand a recorded roll-call vote. (Ocasio-Cortez told HuffPost that she voice-voted â€œnoâ€? on that legislation.)
It will still be hard to force a vote on the next bill since the Democratic-controlled House relies on an in-person voting system that requires members to engage in health-endangering travel in order to participate.
Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) signed off on a plan to allow members to vote through in-person proxies. Pocan said Monday they would have a better idea of whether the system will be in place in time to vote on the new stimulus bill after a House Democratic Caucus call later in the day.Â
The CPC itself is moving ahead with plans to conduct Congressâ€™ business from afar. The bloc is due to hold a virtual hearing on preventing layoffs on Thursday.
In addition to ripping Republicans for their focus on big business at the expense of ordinary workers, Ocasio-Cortez lamented Congressâ€™ inaction during the pandemic. The complaint was an implicit indictment of Pelosiâ€™s leadership since she has not moved quickly to create an alternative to in-person lawmaking.
â€œIt is insulting to think that we can pass such a small amount of money in the context of not knowing when Congress is even going to reconvene â€• and pass such a small amount of money, pat ourselves on the back, and then leave town again,â€? she said.Â
This story is developing.This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post https://www.huffpost.com/entry/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-vote-against-new-stimulus-bill-covid-19-pandemic_n_5e9de4fcc5b63c5b5872da94?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000603