Republican Sen. Josh Hawley and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but they’re on the same page about one thing: Stimulus checks need to be included in the next coronavirus relief bill.
The payouts, included in a first round of COVID-19 relief earlier this year, have become a sticking point in negotiations on a second bill.
“I will gladly work w/ @AOC and anyone else who wants to help working families. Families and working people in need should be the FIRST consideration in COVID relief, not last,” tweeted Hawley, who represents Missouri.
After months at a stalemate, Congress is inching towards a $908 billion stimulus bill that excludes $1,200 direct payments to every American, a potential hurdle towards a deal for more progressive lawmakers, such as Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
“If people don’t get UI [Unemployment Insurance] assistance, and if they don’t get a stimulus check, then relief isn’t going to be felt in their lives, not in a substantive way,” Ocasio-Cortez told NBC News’ Garrett Haake on Friday. “So will I support resources to hospitals and schools and firefighters? Absolutely. But I am extremely concerned that it’s not going to solve the immediate problems that people have.”
Hawley is one of the few GOP lawmakers who support stimulus checks — doled out in March to people earning below a certain amount of money — while other Republicans have bashed the strategy as a “socialist” or “radical” idea from Democrats. President Trump, however, capitalized on the original proposal, maneuvering to have his name enscribed on the checks.
The window of opportunity to pass legislation for economic relief to millions of Americans is swiftly coming to a close, as unemployment benefits stemming from the pandemic are set to expire the day after Christmas, and moratoriums on evictions and student loan forbearance expire at the end of the year.
“If you’re on the brink of an eviction or if you’re behind on six months of bills, you need that check … and state and local funding isn’t going to help you,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Despite pushing for a much larger relief bill before the Nov. 3 election, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says she is willing to settle for a pared-down version to be passed more immediately as the party sets its sights on a bigger relief package after Jan. 20, when President-elect Joe Biden takes office.