Friday, May 24, 2024

AOC Joins Conservatives to Oppose New COVID Spending Package

‘The only folks that they have urgency around are folks like Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Shake Shack…’

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Named 'Porker of the Year' in Online Poll
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / IMAGE: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert via Youtube

(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Some have suggested that politically ambitious Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, D-NY, has recently tiptoed closer to the center by embracing the Democratic Establishment.

But on Thursday, the socialist-influenced congressional freshman appeared to make a hard-right lurch to oppose the most recent coronavirus relief bill.

Ocasio–Cortez joined five of the most vocal anti-government House conservatives in refusing to rubber-stamp the latest stimulus package, all the while bashing several beloved food chains.

“It is a joke when Republicans say that they have urgency around this bill,” Ocasio–Cortez said, according to the New York Post. “The only folks that they have urgency around are folks like Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Shake Shack.”

The nearly $500 billion package, on the heels of the $2-trillion-plus CARES Act, cleared the House 388-5 on Thursday, signaling a small but growing opposition as the two sides ready for a fifth bout.

The next debate will likely find Democrats threatening to derail another infusion of $1,200 Trump checks unless Republicans agree to help fund state and local governments dealing with issues like depleted pension funds.

More recently, the opposing parties faced a stand-off over the continued funding of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which incentivizes companies to retain workers during the health crisis rather than furlough or fire them.

House Democrats acknowledged that they had sat on the bill while attempting to use it as “leverage” for funding other priorities, including $100 billion total for hospitals and coronavirus testing.

“Some people unfortunately got laid off because of this delay,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

But the only thing more unusual than seeing the eventual bipartisan solidarity in favor of the costly spending package was the motley assortment that opposed it.

Some, such as Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Justin Amash, I-Mich. (the latter voted “present”), have been criticized by fellow conservatives for refusing to fall in line with the GOP agenda.

The libertarian Amash’s attacks on President Donald Trump after the release of the Mueller report led to his cutting ties with the party, despite having been a founding member of the conservative Freedom Caucus.

Likewise, Massie was criticized for having forced Congress back into session last month by rejecting the motion from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for unanimous consent on the previous relief bill.

Massie said concerns about adding substantially to Pelosi’s procedural powers had spurred his opposition, more so than the bill’s massive price tag.

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Ken Buck / IMAGE: @RepKenBuck via Twitter

Joining Massie in opposition to the latest bill were three of the House’s most conservative and vocal pro-Trump advocates: GOP Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ken Buck of Colorado and Jody Hice of Georgia.

Finally, on the other side of the political spectrum entirely, was Ocasio–Cortez.

She criticized the Paycheck Relief Program for benefiting larger companies as well as small businesses.

“You are not trying to fix this bill for mom and pops, and we have to fight to fund hospitals [and] to fund testing,” Ocasio–Cortez said.

Her attack on specific eateries was not entirely inapropos.

According to the New York Post, the high-end steakhouse Ruth’s Chris was poised to receive a $20 million loan. And Shake Shack, a purveyor of fast-food frozen treats, had been slated for $10 million.

Both companies have now said they will return the funds.

“AOC” joined her fellow “Squad” members earlier this week in supporting a bill sponsored by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., that would suspend all rent and mortgage payments during the health crisis.

“If you had urgency, you would legislate like rent was due on May 1 and make sure that we have rent and mortgage relief for our constituents,” she scolded her GOP adversaries.

Meanwhile, Republicans also remained diffident as to whether smaller versus larger companies should benefit from emergency funding.

Conceding that the particular program was earmarked for small businesses, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., nonetheless noted that workers at larger chains were equally vulnerable, reported the New York Post.

“[Y]ou could make an argument that if my job was lost, the size of my employer doesn’t make any difference to me. I’m out of work,” McConnell said.

“So it’s an interesting debate,” he continued. “We’re feeling our way along here, we’re trying to do the best we can to get money to our people and to our small businesses.”

Yet, Republicans waged a similar opposition to wealthy universities that had accepted millions in funding through the prior stimulus bill, ostensibly in support of remote-learning and student needs.

After facing heavy criticism from Trump and GOP members of Congress, Harvard reluctantly agreed Wednesday to return the $9 million it had received.

This week’s bill was not the first time that Ocasio–Cortez’s far-left agenda had wound up inadvertently aligning her with the Right.

Last June, at the peak of the illegal immigration crisis, she joined some fiscal conservatives in opposing House Democrats’ emergency-spending package for border security that sought to address the overcrowding of detention centers.

On at least two occasions, she and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have discussed teaming up for anti-lobbying legislation and to make over-the-counter birth control more available.

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