Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday for granting the Senate a Thanksgiving recess without striking a deal on new COVID-19 relief legislation.
Ocasio-Cortez made the remarks while speaking during a House hearing on Friday. She said that McConnell was “abandoning our people” by allowing the Senate to go on a break on Wednesday, a day earlier than had been expected, while Americans face the “extraordinary health and economic hardship of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Just a day or two ago, the Senate majority leader, Senator McConnell, decide to break the Senate,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And he broke the Senate as there are thousands of people in Texas lined up for food lines. He broke the Senate while hospitals no longer have beds to house the sick. He broke the Senate, and dismissed the Senate, while 30 million Americans are on the brink of eviction.”
“He dismissed the Senate when every single day, when we go back to our communities, people are asking us, ‘Where is there going to be help? Is there going to be a second stimulus check? Are we going to get the resources that we need?” she continued. “The Senate prides itself as one of the most deliberative bodies. They abandoned them.”
Ocasio-Cortez added that the CARES Act, which was passed in March, had “lifted more than 18 million individuals in the United States out of monthly poverty in April alone.” She said that 14 million of those went back into poverty after some benefits prescribed by the bill had expired.
Ocasio-Cortez insisted that a “majority of people in the United States are not very confident in their ability to eat in the next four weeks,” while McConnell had displayed “unconscionable leadership” by allowing Senators to take a break for Thanksgiving despite many of their constituents having trouble feeding themselves and their families on the holiday.
“While we are arguing about negotiations and while we are arguing about points, people are going hungry,” she said. “We are dismissing their needs as ‘blue state needs,’ or as bailouts depending on what party you voted for. Hungry has no party. Illness has no party.”
Efforts by both Democrats and Republicans to agree to and pass a follow-up to the CARES Act have repeatedly fallen short during the past eight months. Both parties have accused the other of obstructing their own efforts. One sticking point has been unemployment benefits, with Republicans insisting that benefits pay out at a lower rate than what was initially provided in the previous bill.
Approximately half of around 20 million people currently receiving unemployment benefits in the U.S. could be set to lose their lifeline due to two federal programs expiring on December 26, according to The Associated Press.
There had been more than 11.7 million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of Friday, with a record 187,833 new cases added on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University. Over 2,000 deaths were added to a total that exceeds 252,000 since the pandemic began.
On Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez suggested that the government should “pay people to stay home” in an attempt to “get the virus under control,” prompting heated Twitter spats with prominent Republicans including former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.).
Newsweek reached out to McConnell’s office for comment.