The Progressive Caucus is ‘making money moves,’ demanding stimulus checks or no deal
Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez say they'll block any relief package without a second stimulus check.
Lawmakers have until Friday night at midnight to pass a bill to fund the government and avoid a shutdown going into the holidays. The rush to complete a deal comes amid a push from Progressives to attach a coronavirus relief package to the $900 billion proposal.
On Dec. 15, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said a deal was "close" while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters he was "optimistic" a deal was incoming.
But the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and other Democrats said that any deal lawmakers reach must include improved unemployment insurance, for a minimum of six months, and direct cash payments to help struggling individuals during the pandemic.
In a letter sent to Congressional leaders on Dec. 12, the CPC said any relief package should include direct payments of at least $2,000 for all working individuals and families.
The letter also demanded enhanced homelessness assistance, expanded SNAP benefits, and more money for state and local aid.
Working people need help, now. Any COVID stimulus deal must include direct assistance for the American people.
This crisis isn't going away -- families need survival checks and expanded unemployment insurance to survive this winter. Our full letter to congressional leadership ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/wCZSeOam3T
— Progressive Caucus (@USProgressives) December 15, 2020
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA.), CPC co-chairwoman, will be the caucus’s sole leader in the next Congress. She took to Twitter to repeat its demands.
“The Progressive Caucus is united in our position: any COVID relief package MUST include survival checks and enhanced unemployment assistance — the two most effective ways to put money directly in people's pockets,” she wrote.
The Progressive Caucus is united in our position: any COVID relief package MUST include survival checks and enhanced unemployment assistance — the two most effective ways to put money directly in people's pockets.
RT if you're with us.
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) December 16, 2020
On the night of Dec. 15, Rep. Alexandria Ocacio-Cortez (AOC) retweeted Rep. Jayapal’s tweet, and confirmed the CPC’s stance, writing: “Time to make some money moves.”
AOC also added her own words to the CPC statement, emphasizing that should the relief package not include stimulus checks, she will not vote, indicating that “it ends here.”
“I will not vote for a COVID package that doesn’t include survival payments and unemployment relief for the American people. It’s a red line. It’s also common sense,” she wrote.
POLITICO reported the CPC has sent out a whip notice to gauge how many of the roughly 100-strong group would be willing to oppose a relief deal that doesn’t include stimulus checks, with responses due back by noon on Dec. 16.
On the morning of Dec. 16, it was reported that after a group of bipartisan moderate lawmakers excluded another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, they changed course and tried to include them in the legislation that has yet to be finalized. However the amount is expected to be much lower, with reports projecting a figure as low as $600.
A stimulus check is expected to make the bill, and the CHC raised concerns to consider over the course of its pending inclusion. Still, it’s a far cry from the $2,000 the CPC is demanding.