Rep. Ayanna Pressley has some major criticism for the $2 trillion stimulus package that passed the House on Friday in response to the U.S. coronavirus pandemic. The bill was headed to Donald Trump‘s desk for him to sign it Friday afternoon.
Pressley created a Twitter thread Friday afternoon starting out with “So about this bill.”
She continued, “Our nation is in a crisis right now. From the start I’ve said we must put people before corporations. Here in Massachusetts, we’re struggling. Drs, nurses, mayors are pleading – we need help fast. That’s why my team and I have stayed at the table fighting to make this bill stronger and have been working w every level of gov to support our community in this time of crisis.”
Pressley went on to say that although the bill “provide some desperately needed aid to our community health centers and hospitals, and our workers and families during this public health emergency” the bill still greatly benefits corporations.
“With a $2T bill, Congress had the chance to fundamentally address the deep inequities in our healthcare system,” she tweeted. “We had a chance to make testing & treatment free & accessible for EVERYONE & unemployment & paid leave truly universal. This bill didn’t do that.”
She went on to say, “This bill will provide some direct cash assistance, pause foreclosures and evictions, provide temporary payment relief to student loan borrowers, and get some resources to those experiencing homelessness and those behind the wall. But I’m still livid.”
“The bill provides short-term stop gap relief for workers, families and small businesses but it also provides massive bail outs to corporations,” she continued. “And this bill also goes out of the way to leave behind our immigrant neighbors in a time of crisis.”
Pressley finished by saying, “Our work is far from over. I’ll never stop fighting for those left out and left behind. I see you. I hear you. Your family deserves healthcare and economic justice.”
Pressley is not the only Democrat dissatisfied with the bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during a floor speech ahead of the Friday vote, “This cannot be our final bill.”
According to Vox, the passed legislation came after days of back-and-forth between Senate lawmakers like Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who played a big role in helping to craft the legislation.
As Pressley mentioned, the bill provides $130 billion in relief for the healthcare system, including $100 billion that will go to hospitals, $1 billion that will go to the Indian Health Service, and funds to increase medical equipment capacity.
The bill also assists working and unemployed families and individuals. For example, a one-time $1,200 check would be sent to most adults making $75,000 or less annually, according to past tax returns. The funds start to phase out as people’s income increases. A $500 payment would also be distributed to cover every child in qualifying households.
The bill will increase unemployment insurance by $600 per week for four months. These funds are in addition to what states pay as a base unemployment salary. This benefit would include gig economy workers, freelancers, and furloughed workers who are still receiving health insurance from their employers but are not getting a paycheck.
People who won’t receive payments from the government include undocumented immigrants. According to CPA Practice Advisor, to receive a check the taxpayer must have a Social Security number (SSN). People who filed their taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number will not receive a check. This excludes nearly 4.3 million adults and 3.5 million children, according to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy. Such a move can be devastating to undocumented immigrant families, many of whom are Black, and could have a negative impact on the economy. Such a measure probably contributed to Pressley’s frustration with the bill.
Another aspect of the bill that probably disturbed the congresswoman involves $500 billion in emergency loans for large businesses and municipalities dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. Instead of negotiating the figure down, Democrats fought for a congressional oversight panel of the “slush fund” and a new inspector general in the Treasury Department who will specifically oversee these funds. Schumer’s office said they also secured a provision that will “prohibit businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and heads of Executive Departments from receiving loans or investments from Treasury programs.” The spouses, children, or in-laws of lawmakers and executive officials also can’t receive these loans.
Some additional amendments progressives fought for, such as requiring companies to implement a $15 minimum wage, didn’t make it into the final bill.
Pressley’s criticism of the stimulus package comes after she announced that she’s being tested for the coronavirus after experiencing flu-like symptoms. “Thanks for the well wishes all,” she said in a tweet on Thursday. “At home in Boston with my family getting some rest and awaiting #COVIDー19 test results. Sending our continued gratitude to all of the healthcare workers on the frontlines of this fight in Massachusetts.”
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