Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says She'll Vote Against Stimulus Bill Without Changes

2020-04-20 | The Huffington Post

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 district’s suffering inspired her insistence on more ambitious legislation. She represents immigrant-heavy neighborhoods in central Queens with some of the country’s highest death rates. 

“I am not here for a $5 bill,� she said. “I’m not ― and I will not insult my community with one.�

Ocasio-Cortez was the only member of Congress who participated in the press conference to threaten a “no� 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, “What you are hearing is the level of concern with what has been proposed.�

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 “no� or try to assemble a bloc capable of derailing a bill, it’s not clear whether they would get the chance. 

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 “no� 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. 

The CPC itself is moving ahead with plans to conduct Congress’ 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 Congress’ inaction during the pandemic. The complaint was an implicit indictment of Pelosi’s leadership since she has not moved quickly to create an alternative to in-person lawmaking.

“It 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 ― and pass such a small amount of money, pat ourselves on the back, and then leave town again,� she said. 

This story is developing.

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post