Some of the top-ranked Democrats harshly condemned the emerging outlines of a $ 900 billion emergency rescue package. This package is still being drafted by the Congress leaders of both parties.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fiercely criticized the apparent trade-off to include a round of $600 stimulus checks at the expense of funding for enhanced unemployment insurance, calling it "inhumane."
"The fact that Republicans are forcing Dems to choose between stimulus money OR unemployment benefits, as if we couldn't easily do both, is barbaric," the New York congresswoman tweeted. "Do they know that people in red states are hungry too, or do they just not care?"
Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, agrees with this view.
"The notion that Congress can’t give Americans direct checks AND unemployment benefits is a lie. We know that because 10 months ago Congress provided workers with both. This is a cruel last-ditch effort by Senate Republicans to scale back real aid for families." - wrote Ron Wyden on his Twitter account.
Then Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, part of the bipartisan group that kickstarted relief talks, said he didn't think the step was "progressive at all."
"I don't think there's very much progressive about the idea that if we're going to try to give checks to people — who've had no economic harm — if you're taking it out of the hide of people that, frankly, are unemployed or you're taking it away from food banks, you're taking it away from mental health assistance," he told Yahoo Finance.
Criticism of such negotiations is growing while at the same time congressional leaders are in a hurry to reach an agreement on a pandemic aid package. After that, both Chambers of Congress should approve the package by midnight Friday. They are trying to merge it with a broader federal spending bill to fund agencies into next year.
Negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accelerated on Tuesday — they met twice in Pelosi's office for several hours. They did not set up another meeting on Wednesday.
McConnell told reporters as he departed Capitol Hill on Wednesday: "We're still close, and we're going to get there."