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Sen Ted Cruz schools AOC after she attacks Mitch McConnell over lack of COVID aid

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‘Squad’ member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) got into it with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on social media over the stalemate involving the coronavirus aid package after Congress left Washington for a weeklong Thanksgiving recess with no deal in place. AOC specifically targeted Mitch McConnell over it.

“People across the country are going hungry, COVID is set to explode, and Mitch McConnell dismissed the Senate last week,” AOC tweeted Monday. “I don’t know how these people can sleep at night. I really don’t.”

Cruz took issue with the attack and fired back at the young progressive lawmaker. He accused Democrats of repeatedly blocking a scaled-back stimulus proposal backed by the majority of Senate Republicans.

“Why is your party filibustering $500 billion in COVID relief?” the Texas Republican asked her. “And Joe Biden is cheering them on. Thinking that blocking relief somehow helps Dems win Georgia.”

House Democrats had previously voted to pass the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act in May, and the updated, scaled-backed $2.2 trillion legislation in October.

“The House doesn’t have filibusters, @tedcruz,” she shot back. “We also passed several COVID relief packages to the Senate that not only include >$500 billion, but also prioritize helping real people as opposed to Wall St bailouts the GOP tries to pass off as ‘relief.’ Nice try though.”

The faceoff allegedly has to do with the amount of money spent as proposed by the relief bill.

More than once Democrats have filibustered a vote on the scaled-back GOP proposal. Most recently they did it at the end of October. The bill, less than a third of the size of the $2.2 trillion figure backed by Democratic leaders, included boosted federal unemployment benefits, another round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, a key small business rescue program, money for schools, and liability protections for businesses.

Cruz clapped back: “AOC seems not to know there are Democrats in the Senate. Or that Joe Biden (also a Dem) is publicly calling on Senate Dems to continue filibustering COVID relief because he thinks it will help them win Georgia.”

This impasse has been going on for months now. Congress can’t seem to come to an agreed-upon compromise to pass another round of emergency relief for families and businesses still reeling from the pandemic after they passed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March. Ocasio-Cortez was one of the few lawmakers to vote against the bipartisan legislation, which she said left out key Democratic priorities. Cruz voted in favor of the bill.

Both parties are intent on passing a relief bill. But they disagree adamantly on the size and scope of it. With only eight legislative days left in their calendar, it’s increasingly unlikely that lawmakers will be able to strike a deal before the year ends. Mitch McConnell has said as much.

Differences in what is wanted here include funding for a virus testing plan, aid to state and local governments, and tax cuts for low- and middle-income families. The lack of compromise has befuddled lawmakers since May. The election chaos has not helped the matter either.

Approximately 12 million Americans will be left with no income the day after Christmas after two federal jobless aid programs created in March expire, according to a study published by the Century Foundation, a nonprofit think tank.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program created to provide jobless benefits to those not eligible for benefits, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which extends state unemployment benefits an extra 13 weeks, are both set to lapse at the end of the year. An additional program that provided $600 in extra unemployment benefits a week expired last July.

Job losses are rising and as COVID-19 cases experience a resurgence across the country, prompting state and local governments to implement new lockdown measures, economists are increasingly warning of a bleak winter. Foreclosures and evictions are also growing rapidly.

“There hasn’t been a bigger need for it in a long, long time here,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said last week in his latest appeal to Congress and the White House regarding another stimulus package.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that President-elect Joe Biden’s team was urging Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill to reach a deal with the GOP over COVID relief funding. The newspaper added that Biden’s advisers were also calling for the leaders to accept a smaller relief package than the one they had proposed, if necessary.

The Biden transition team later denied the report and told NBC News that the Democratic president-elect “fully supports” the negotiating positions of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

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