AOC slams Democrat who opposed $2,000 coronavirus relief checks: "Err on the side of helping people"

Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon claimed direct payments would provide too much support to people making six figures

Published December 30, 2020 1:40PM (EST)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

This article originally appeared at Common Dreams. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York pilloried Rep. Kurt Schrader after the Oregon Democrat voted against an amendment to increase one-time direct payments to most Americans from $600 to $2,000, which passed the House on Monday when 44 Republicans joined 231 Democrats in supporting the bill now awaiting action in the Senate.

Schrader opposed the Caring for Americans With Supplemental Help (CASH) Act because, according to the lawmaker—whose net worth hovered close to $8 million in 2018—"people who are making six figure incomes and who have not been impact[ed] by Covid-19 do not need checks."

Just over an hour after voicing his disapproval of bigger relief checks for the majority of U.S. households, Schrader voted in favor of overriding President Donald Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), greenlighting more than $740 billion in military spending for fiscal year 2021—and perfectly encapsulating what the ostensibly centrist, national security-minded Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of Democratic lawmakers to which Schrader belongs, means by "fiscal responsibility."

"First of all, aid starts phasing out at $75,000," Ocasio-Cortez began in her rebuttal to Schrader's statement, which was riddled with erroneous assertions. "It's already tied to outdated income information, don't make it worse," she continued, alluding to the fact that eligibility is based on 2019 tax returns.

Although individuals with incomes in the six-figure range are in fact not eligible for a full relief check, contrary to what Schrader suggested, Ocasio-Cortez reminded the Blue Dog Democrat that people who made $100,000 or more "also had income disrupted." Besides, she asked, "Is this really a good reason to block aid for millions?"

According to Schrader, the CASH Act "is an ineffective and poorly targeted approach to aiding Americans in distress." He described the measure as "clearly a last-minute political maneuver by the president and extremists on both sides of the political spectrum, who have been largely absent during months of very hard negotiations."

Schrader was one of two House Democrats to vote against the amendment to increase relief checks from $600 to $2,000. He was joined by outgoing Rep. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois and both voted to override Trump's NDAA veto, along with 210 other Democratic representatives.

As Common Dreams reported Tuesday, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) on Monday night applauded the 20 House Democrats who "had the courage... to vote no on the bloated defense budget," which he said contributes to "changing the culture of endless war and calling for more investment instead in the American people."

Schrader took a misleading jab at left-leaning lawmakers, accusing them of choosing "to tweet their opinions instead of coming to the table to get aid in the hands of Americans and small businesses that need it most," a bizzare claim given that direct payments to struggling people were "not even on the table" prior to the efforts of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the Congressional Progressive Caucus to which Ocasio-Cortez belongs.

In addition to correcting the false information underlying Schrader's stated reasons for opposing the CASH Act, Ocasio-Cortez told the conservative lawmaker: "If you're going to err, err on the side of helping people."

By Kenny Stancil

MORE FROM Kenny Stancil

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Aoc Blue Dog Democrats Congress Coronavirus Democrats Kurt Schrader Stimulus Checks