Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the lone Democrat to vote against the latest stimulus bill, tells Republicans to start legislating 'like rent was due'

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, said Republicans care more about big business than "mom and pops," and urged her fellow lawmakers to pursue rent and mortgage relief.

  • "If you had urgency, you would legislate like rent was due May 1 and make sure that we include rent and mortgage relief for our constituents," the lawmaker said.

  • A self-described democratic socialist, Ocasio-Cortez joined with four fiscal conservatives in voting against Thursday's stimulus measure, which largely provided relief to small to mid-size businesses.

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said this Thursday that if Republicans in the House of Representatives had any sense of urgency, they "would legislate like rent was due on May 1st" — and be looking to provide relief to working families, not just their employers.

Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist elected in 2018, joined four fiscal conservatives in voting against the latest, $484 billion stimulus measure to pass the House. That bill, which passed in the Senate on Tuesday, includes $320 billion for the Paycheck Protect Program, which provides emergency loans to small businesses.

That program has also provided tens of millions of dollars to publicly traded companies and firms with over 500 employees, such as Shake Shack, which has since returned the money, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. The Treasury Department has since said that publicly-traded companies have two weeks to return loan money that was meant for small businesses.

In an impassioned speech ahead of the House vote, Ocasio-Cortez singled out those companies, arguing that Republicans cared more about their bottom-line than for "mom and pops" or even hospitals; initially, the Trump administration insisted that money for the latter was "extraneous," before conceding to demands from Democratic lawmaker.

The measure passed Thursday now includes $75 billion for healthcare providers and another $25 billion to beef up COVID-19 testing capacity. But that was not enough to obtain Ocasio-Cortez's support.

"It is unconscionable," she said, addressing the right of the House chamber. "If you had urgency, you would legislate like rent was due May 1st and make sure that we include rent and mortgage relief for our constituents."

Only 69% of apartment-dwellers made rent payments by April 5, down from 82% the year before, according to data from the National Multifamily Housing Council. The number has since ticked up — NMHC credits federal stimulus checks and credit cards — but hundreds of thousands of renters are still behind on their payments.

An earlier stimulus measure provided some relief to homeowners with federally backed mortgages, granting them a right to postpone payments if they are experiencing financial hardship.

To date, however, the federal government has provided no specific relief to the 43 million households that rent their dwellings, although some state and local governments have prohibited evictions during the crisis.

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