- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Warner all criticized the apparent trade-off of unemployment insurance funding to cover the cost of $ 600 incentive checks.
- “The fact that Republicans are forcing Dems to choose between stimulus money OR unemployment benefits, as if we couldn’t do both easily, is barbaric,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
- Many Democrats backed, including both $ 1,200 direct payments and an extension of federal unemployment benefits.
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Several prominent Democrats on Wednesday attacked the emerging outline of a $ 900 billion emergency rescue package that is still being drafted by Congressional leaders of both parties.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fiercely criticized the apparent trade-off to include a $ 600 round of stimulus checks at the expense of funding improved unemployment insurance, calling it “inhumane.”
—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 16, 2020
“The fact that Republicans are forcing Dems to choose between stimulus money OR unemployment benefits, as if we couldn’t do both easily, is barbaric,” tweeted the New York congressman. “Do they know people in red states are hungry too, or they just don’t care?”
That breadth was echoed by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, the Democratic ranking in the Senate Finance Committee.
—Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) December 16, 2020
“The idea that Congress can’t give Americans direct checks AND unemployment benefits is a lie. We know that because Congress provided workers with both 10 months ago,” he tweeted, referring to passage of the CARES Act. “This is a brutal latest attempt by Senate Republicans to cut back real aid to families.”
Then Virginia Senator Mark Warner, part of the bipartisan group that sparked aid talks, said he didn’t think the move was “progressive” at all.
“I don’t think there is much progression to the idea that if we try to give checks to people – who have not suffered any economic damage – if you take it out of the hiding place of people who are, frankly, unemployed or you take it away at food banks, you take it away from mental health, “he told Yahoo Finance.
Growing criticism of the negotiations comes as Congress leaders rush to negotiate a deal on a pandemic relief package and then get both chambers of Congress to approve it by midnight Friday, the new deadline for government funding. that ends. They are trying to merge it with a broader federal spending bill to fund agencies next year.
Negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy gained momentum on Tuesday – they met twice in Pelosi’s office for several hours. They did not organize a new meeting on Wednesday.
McConnell told reporters as he left Capitol Hill, “We’re still close, and we’ll get there.”
The bipartisan group of centrist senators enacted two separate laws on Monday. One of these included $ 748 billion in funding for amenities that most lawmakers support, including $ 300 weekly federal unemployment benefits for 16 weeks from the end of December to April 19, 2021.
The other consisted of the liability shield and $ 160 billion in state and local government funding. The bitterness surrounding those issues forced the senators to split them into a separate plan.
The Washington Post reported that negotiators had tried to keep the total cost of the legislation below $ 1 trillion in order to allay the GOP’s concerns about excessive federal spending. However, many economists have argued that the alarm about the growing budget deficit during the pandemic should be set aside, as low interest rates make it cheap to borrow money.
By cutting funding for state and local aid, lawmakers could try to use the additional fiscal space to pay $ 600 checks for Americans, half the amount paid out in March and April. The first round of $ 1,200 direct payments cost approximately $ 300 billion. Many Democrats supported the inclusion of controls in addition to improved unemployment insurance.
But The Post reported that unemployment benefits could be reduced by one month from what was revealed in the bipartisan legislation to cover the cost of the direct payments. It would spell the end of federal unemployment benefits in late March, though details remain on the move.