Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) took to Twitter Wednesday to chastize the Senate for a proposed plan to recess immediately after voting to pass a massive, $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, but privately, CNN reports, the Democratic socialist threatened to hold up coronavirus relief herself by forcing her House colleagues to return to Washington, D.C., to vote on the measure in person.
“The Senate might ADJOURN FOR A MONTH after this bill?” Ocasio-Cortez whined on social media, after discovering, from CNN, that the Senate plans to adjourn after passing coronavirus relief Wednesday. “This is completely dangerous and unacceptable. We HAVE to be able to respond to people’s needs. People don’t have this time. Even IF the Senate can even return on the 20th (big IF) that may not be enough time to solve May.”
But Ocasio-Cortez’s complaint does not necesssarily stem from her concern for her fellow man. Like other members of the progressive “Squad” — Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) — Ocasio-Cortez does not support the bipartisan relief package, which she says gives too much power and money to corporations. Instead, she and others are behind a 1,400-page House bill, which pairs elements of the Senate legislation with elements of the Green New Deal, massive handouts to labor unions, a $30,000-per-person student loan bailout, and dramatic changes to the American electoral process.
In fact, Ocasio-Cortez and Omar have said the House bill doesn’t go far enough. Omar participated in an online townhall hosted by Democratic socialists Wednesday night, designed to marshal support behind a “just stimulus.”
If the Senate leaves after passing their bill, Ocasio-Cortez’s chances of forcing Democrats and Republicans back to the bargaining table over the House bill all but vanish.
In the House, Ocasio-Cortez seems poised to take similar measure to delay any relief package if it does not include certain additional items, CNN reports, and has warned that she will force her House colleagues to vote on the coronavirus relief package in person, even if it means defying Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “social distancing” guidelines, putting older Members of Congress at risk.
“The New York Democrat has expressed her frustration with reports of the stimulus deal, suggesting it’s too tilted towards corporations. The deal was reached between senators from both parties — including the senior Democratic senator from her state, Chuck Schumer, and the White House,” CNN reported Wednesday. “Ocasio-Cortez told CNN she is not ruling out asking for a recorded vote, which would force lawmakers to return to Washington and vote in-person, something that most members of Congress are eager to avoid amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who has not scheduled the Senate package for a vote and will not commit to bringing the bipartisan legislation to the floor, did tell colleagues, in a phone call Wednesday afternoon that, when the bill does make its way to the House, that she’d prefer a unanimous voice vote. Any member who decides not to participate in that voice vote could — as Ocasio-Cortez seems to be planning — force the dreaded, in-person roll call vote.
The move could “delay final passage” of the bill “for days,” according to CNN.
Ocasio-Cortez has not released a list of demands, but based on her social media missives, it seems she’ll push for things like an en masse release of prisoners, a complete moratorium on evictions and foreclosures that includes rent relief, and a student loan bailout, just to begin. Her colleagues have even gone so far as to propose a “radical takeover” of private health care.
The House returns to session on Thursday at 11am EST.