WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 09: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) walks with colleagues on Capitol Hill on January 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. The House is debating restricting President Donald Trump’s powers concerning conflict in Iran. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez continues to present herself as a firm voice for working class Americans in the midst of the novel coronavirus. As Congress works to push forward a nearly $500 billion emergency relief package, Ocasio-Cortez says it’s still not enough, and told reporters Thursday afternoon that she was still undecided on whether she will support it.
“It is a joke when Republicans say that they have urgency around this bill,” said the freshman congresswoman in a speech on the House floor Thursday. Ocasio-Cortez argued the GOP isn’t doing nearly enough to address the needs of many Americans who will not be able to make their rent and mortgage payments next month. “If you had urgency, you would legislate like rent was due on May 1st and make sure that we include rent and mortgage relief for our constituents,” she said. Ocasio-Cortez represents people living in the Bronx and Queens, two communities hardest hit by coronavirus in New York.
The congresswoman added that Republicans were more interested in bailing out corporate chains than helping small businesses and securing funds for hospitals. “We had to fight to fund hospitals. Fighting to fund testing,” she argued. “That is what we’re fighting for in this bill. It is unconscionable.”
.@RepAOC @AOC: "It is a joke when Republicans say that they have urgency around this bill…you are not trying fix this bill for mom & pops. We have to fight to fund hospitals. Fighting to fund testing…It is unconscionable."
Full video here: https://t.co/IBennHJzF3 pic.twitter.com/1rx1e16Unr
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 23, 2020
Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the more outspoken progressive leaders to demand more relief for Americans, small businesses, and healthcare facilities. On Twitter, the congresswoman clammed legislators for not taking bigger, more substantial measures to help their constituents right now. “If Congress doesn’t know when it will next convene, we need to vote on a bigger fix now,” she wrote. “We need WAY more for PPP, $2000 monthly cash payments (plus $1k for each child), & cover health bills.”
Last month, Ocasio-Cortez voiced her criticisms of an earlier stimulus package on the House floor. In her speech calling out Republicans for prioritizing “one of the largest corporate bailouts” in American history, Ocasio-Cortez said it was “shameful” to put corporate interests over people. Since then, she has made several calls for expansive federal relief for working people, including demands for rent relief, reparations for black and brown communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and has made calls to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, who “pay less than undocumented immigrants do in taxes,” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez also voiced her support for a worker-led action against reopening the economy, telling VICE TV, “We’re not going back to working 70-hour weeks just so that we could put food on the table and not even feel any sort of semblance of security in our lives.”
As a result, the congresswoman has been met with rightwing criticism, something she’s seen a lot of since taking office. Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Thursday told Fox & Friends that Ocasio-Cortez should “go back and remember that when she was a bartender […] she didn’t have that luxury.” Despite what Sanders might think, the fact that workers have to decide between going back to work to make ends meet and staying healthy is far from a luxury. Now, more than ever, Ocasio-Cortez remains focused on advocating for the most vulnerable people in the county.
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