The House has somewhat belatedly passed the latest coronavirus bailout bill. According to Newsweek the $464 billion bill will refill the paycheck protection fund, left empty thanks to the obstruction of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The bill will also provide some money for hospitals to provide for protective gear, testing materials, and other expenses.
The bill passed 388 to 5, which makes it as bipartisan as anything gets in these hyper-partisan times. Four Republicans, Jody Hice of Georgia, Ken Buck of Colorado, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and Andy Biggs of Arizona voted against. Independent Justin Amash of Michigan voted present.
One Democrat voted against the bill. Her name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, the firebrand self-described “democratic socialist.”
In an impassioned speech, AOC explained her reasons for voting against the bill.
“On behalf of my constituents in the Bronx and Queens, New York’s 14th congressional district, the most impacted district in America, calling people losing their families every day, it is a joke when Republicans say that they have urgency around this bill. The only folks they have urgency around are folks like Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Shake Shack. Those are the people getting assistance in this bill. You are not trying to fix this bill for mom and pops.”
The socialist House member also claimed that the bill gave the Republicans everything they wanted. She claimed that she wanted rent and mortgage relief to be included in the bill.
AOC’s mention of Ruth’s Chris and Steak Shack, which somehow got money during the last run of small business relief, was on the surface apt. However, both restaurant chains are returning the bailout money they received, $20 million, and $10 million respectively.
However, the call for rent and mortgage relief would seem, in close examination, to be superfluous. The paycheck protection money will allow a lot of small businesses to retain employees while they are in lockdown, thus giving them the ability to pay the rent and the house note.
Whether AOC knows or cares that her grandstanding was not about helping the toiling masses but rather putting her face and voice on television is open to question. However, she is facing a tough primary challenger. According to the New York Post, former CNBC talking head Michelle Caruso-Cabrera let AOC have it.
“AOC votes against more aid to our overburdened hospitals in the Bronx and Queens and indeed the whole nation. AOC votes against more coronavirus testing for the Bronx and Queens and indeed the whole nation. AOC votes against aid to small businesses for the Bronx and Queens and indeed the whole nation. This is outrageous and just plain wrong. Nothing could underscore more clearly why AOC’s anti-democratic party, pro-socialist agenda needs to be rejected once and for all.”
Ocasio-Cortez has previously caused controversy by applying pressure to Amazon.com to not build a headquarters in her district, which deprived a great many of her constituents of lucrative jobs.
However, those jobs were secondary to AOC’s desire to make Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos into an enemy of the people. Caruso-Cabrera recently noted in the Wall Street Journal that since the coronavirus pandemic has hit AOC’s district particularly hard, those jobs and the salary and healthcare benefits that would have went with them would have been useful.
Congress is not done spending money. Next up on the House Democrats’ wish list is a bailout bill for state and local governments, which are hurting for tax money since the lockdown started.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has thus fat resisted the idea, noting that some state and local governments were in trouble before the coronavirus pandemic. In any case, no bailout of that nature is likely to happen with conditions such as reforms imposed on how state and local governments spend money.
In the meantime, AOC is practicing her talking points and getting ready for the next bailout battle. Her strategy is not so much to contribute something useful but to be a thorn in the sides of both the Republicans and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The difference between Pelosi and her is that while Pelosi is willing to play hardball, even to the extent of holding Americans hostage to her demands, she at least wants to legislate. It has been noted more than once that AOC is much too much in love with the sound of her voice to be an effective legislator. If Caruso-Cabrera beats AOC in the New York Primary, Pelosi will not likely shed even one tear.