Ocasio-Cortez, House progressives criticize interim coronavirus bill

"As the person who's representing the most impacted district in the country, my constituents are upset," said Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
Image: Sen. Schumer, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Call On FEMA To Grant Disaster Funeral Assistance
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said Monday, April 20, 2020, that she "will not support" the interim coronavirus package if it doesn't include more relief for states and individuals than negotiators have been considering.Scott Heins / Getty Images

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By Sahil Kapur

WASHINGTON — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said Monday that she "will not support" the interim coronavirus package if it doesn't include more relief for states and individuals than negotiators have been considering as Congress remained short of a deal.

"As the person who's representing the most impacted district in the country, my constituents are upset. My constituents were upset about the first package," she told reporters. "In my district and in New York City and in our community, we've had more deaths than 9/11. Multiple times of 9/11 have happened in the time since Congress has recessed. So I'm not here with the luxury of time."

"I'm not here for a $5 bill. I'm not. And I will not insult my community," she said.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she was worried about Democrats surrendering leverage without getting enough progressive provisions.

"We have real concerns about giving away leverage now without getting some of the priorities that we need," she said. "It's going to be very difficult to support a package that doesn't have some of the desperate relief we need for state and local governments, for people."

The remarks were aimed at pressuring Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to push the bill in a progressive direction as she crafts one aimed at winning the support of the Republican-led Senate and White House. The current negotiations center on $310 billion more for small business relief, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing, NBC News reported. Ocasio-Cortez, Jayapal and others are insisting on more items like aid to states and recurring financial payments to people.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., said she hasn't given up on including more of her priorities, like recurring payments and access to water, but is troubled by the secretiveness of the negotiations.

"The lack of transparency on what's going to actually be in this package is — I'm taken aback by it," she said. "I want to know exactly what's there, especially because we're not having committee hearings. These are conversations happening behind closed doors."

In the afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the chamber wasn't ready to pass additional small business funding and would return Tuesday.

"At this hour, our Democratic colleagues are still prolonging their discussions with the administration, so the Senate regretfully will not be able to pass more funding for Americans' paychecks today," he said.

Along with some concerns within the GOP, the criticism from progressive lawmakers raised the possibility that the House won't be able to pass the interim measure by unanimous consent as it did last month with the $2 trillion package, which could slow down the process.

Ocasio-Cortez said she wasn't sure if she would demand a recorded vote, however, unless she had the necessary support to force one.

"If one person stands up and asks for a record vote, that is not sufficient," she said. "To stand up and ask for a record vote when there are not 44 members, it would be essentially to needlessly endanger folks."