As Congress reached a deal on an interim stimulus bill, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has indicated she will not support the bill if the final text of the legislation is as has been reported. At a virtual press conference on Monday afternoon the congresswoman blasted the piece of legislation as being “too small.”
“As the person who’s representing the most impacted district in the country, my constituents are upset,” she said.
With Congress currently in recess, she added, “It is insulting to think that we can pass such a small amount of money.”
“I am not here to support that,” she said. “I need legislation that is going to save people’s lives.”
The interim bill is aimed at helping small businesses keep employees working as part of the Payment Protection Program. The nearly $500 billion bill replenishes funds for small companies that ran out after less than 2 weeks. It also includes additional funding for hospitals and for coronavirus testing.
But despite the expansions, Ocasio-Cortez said it wasn’t enough. As a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), she and other House Democrats have demanded money be allocated to help undocumented immigrants, as well as boost assistance to communities of color.
“The most heavily impacted zip code is also in my district,” she said. “It’s heavily immigrant, overwhelmingly people of color. And as we’ve long been saying, these inequities are a preexisting condition.”
As of April 21, New York State has more than 250,000 positive coronavirus cases and nearly 15,000 confirmed deaths.
‘A Band-Aid on an enormous wound’
The CPC’s priorities also include expansions to Medicare and Medicaid as well as hazard pay for essential workers.
“Not having access to health care is why people are dying,” Ocasio-Cortez said during the event.
She also criticized the notion that legislators support bills that only provide a “small” amount of funding to help communities amid trillion-dollar packages. “When we talk about the solutions that Congress needs to have moving forward I think it’s important for us to say that incrementalism is not helpful in this moment,” she said.
Comparing it to receiving a “nickel” or a “dime” in comparison to the funding for the rest of the bill,” the Ocasio-Cortez called it unacceptable and unhelpful.
“Not in my community,” she added. “A nickel doesn’t help. It’s like putting a Band-Aid on an enormous wound.”
“We have to make sure that we demand meaningful change and meaningful assistance for working families.”
The freshman lawmaker also blasted Republicans for not doing enough.
“The fact that Republicans do not want to have recurring payments. The fact that Republicans don’t want to fund states and cities. The fact that Republicans don’t want to guarantee people’s healthcare is unacceptable to me. I know that is unacceptable to all of us,” she said.
“I am not here for a $5 bill,” she added. “I’m not. And I'm not going to insult my community with one.”
The interim stimulus bill is set to be passed in the Senate first during a pro forma session, before being sent to the House.
On Tuesday, President Trump tweeted his approval of the bill, and urged Congress to pass it.
“I urge the Senate and House to pass the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act with additional funding for PPP, Hospitals, and Testing,” he wrote. “After I sign this Bill, we will begin discussions on the next Legislative Initiative with fiscal relief…”
Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.