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‘We Should Be Leading With Bold Ideas’: Despite Progressive Objections, House Pushes HEROES Act Forward

Posted by on May 16, 2020 in Government, Policies with 0 Comments

“This unprecedented crisis needs us to show leadership today, not tomorrow.” Ilhan Omar

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) speaks during a press conference organized by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) on January 8, 2020. (Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)


By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams


House progressives on Friday fell short of defeating a procedural rule that sets the stage for a final vote on the HEROES Act, meaning the 1,815-page coronavirus relief bill that has been criticized as woefully inadequate is almost certain to pass later in the day.

Fourteen House Democrats—including nine members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus—voted against the procedural rule: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Mark Pocan (Wis.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Ro Khanna (Calif.), Katie Porter (Calif.), Jesús García (Ill.), Conor Lamb (Penn.), Abigail Spanberger (Va.), Abby Finkenauer (Iowa), Cindy Axne (Iowa), and Haley Stevens (Mich.).

Following the procedural vote, Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, vowed in a statement to vote against the HEROES Act itself.

“While this legislation has some good elements, it ultimately fails to match the scale of this crisis,” said Jayapal. “I believe we can and must do better. This is urgent and the American people cannot wait. We must choose differently.”

The Washington Democrat lamented that the sprawling legislation does not include a federal paycheck guarantee to stem mass layoffs or an expansion of Medicare to provide desperately needed health coverage to the millions of newly unemployed and uninsured.

“We are in the midst of a health pandemic that has already taken more than 86,000 lives, with tens of thousands more deaths projected,” said Jayapal. “Now, more than ever, people need to know their access to healthcare is guaranteed.”


Reps. Ro Khanna, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Pramila Jayapal on Friday became the first four House Democrats to pledge to vote against a procedural rule paving the way for passage of the HEROES Act, warning that the bill does not meet the scale of either the coronavirus pandemic or the ongoing economic calamity.

“We have a healthcare crisis yet no expansion of Medicaid or Medicare,” tweeted Khanna, the first House Democrat to announce his opposition. “FDR didn't talk about employer retirement accounts. LBJ didn't talk about voting rights in some precincts.”

“They would have scoffed at COBRA to private companies,” Khanna added, referring to the HEROES Act's subsidies for an expensive healthcare program that allows people to remain on their employer-provided insurance plan


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