Progressive groups are outraged with “pathetic” Coronavirus deal. Congressional Democrats are doing little to improve it.


The U.S. Capitol stands in Washington, D.C., on April 13, 2020. Congress faces intense pressure to negotiate an interim rescue package this week as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic accelerates across the country. PHOTO/Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Progressive groups are outraged with the nearly $500 billion interim coronavirus rescue package the Senate passed on Tuesday, urging House Democrats to oppose the “pathetic” deal they say doesn’t come close to providing the relief vulnerable people need while giving away all Democratic leverage for future legislation.

The “Phase 3.5” bill, which is expected to sail through the House this week, left out almost everything Democratic leaders were advocating for. There’s no additional funding for state and local governments, no expanded food stamp benefits, no hazard pay for front-line workers, and no money for the U.S. Postal Service, which have all been basic Democratic priorities. The lack of progressive opposition in Congress has been especially noteworthy, after members of the Progressive Caucus promised to help make future legislation more comprehensive following the hastily passed Phase 3 bill.“Just as importantly as the inadequate policy provisions, this bill gives away all Democratic leverage.”

While some progressive advocates argue that Democrats didn’t have much leverage on the package to begin with, others note that Democrats control the House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could have led the party to pass its own bill.

“Just as importantly as the inadequate policy provisions, this bill gives away all Democratic leverage,” Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible, said in an emailed statement. “We fought so hard to win back the House in 2018 — to make sure that we had a voice in negotiations like this. So far we’ve heard silence from the House. This bill may be our last chance to get the things we need. [Republican Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell has already said he doesn’t want to push through another bill, and if he does, it won’t be for weeks.”

Progressive groups, including the Center for Popular Democracy, Social Security Works, Sunrise, Demand Progress, and People’s Action have also come out against the interim package. Some of the organizations, to varying degrees, are asking House Democrats to vote against it.

With discussions for a potential Phase 4 package heating up now, the advocacy groups are planning a public pressure campaign to get members and Pelosi on board with policy priorities that address the scope of the crisis.

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