In the United States, the epicenter of the pandemic, the death toll from COVID-19 has topped 45,000. On Tuesday, the Senate approved $484 billion in new coronavirus aid on a voice vote, with many senators remaining at home due to the pandemic.
The bill adds another $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program providing loans to small businesses, another $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion for testing and $60 billion for emergency disaster loans and grants. The House is expected to vote on the legislation today. The bill provides no new stimulus checks for U.S. households, no additional money for food stamps, no limits on fossil fuel bailouts, no funds for election security, no bailout for the U.S. Postal Service and no additional funds for hard-hit state and local governments.
Democratic Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told MSNBC Tuesday that lawmakers are failing to provide for millions of unemployed people who are unable to pay rent and increasingly at risk of going hungry.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “We are abdicating our responsibility. We haven’t legislated for a month, and thousands of people are dying. Thousands of people are dying every day. And we aren’t going — and we’re talking about coming back. And every time we pass one of these bills, we’re hearing that the real solution is coming in the next bill — and in the next bill and the next bill. And at some point we have to raise our hands and say, 'When is the solution coming?' Because two months of rent are going to pass by before we’re actually even entertaining a real bill.”
The House and Senate have extended their recesses another two weeks — until May 4. Progressive lawmakers are demanding $2,000 monthly payments to all U.S. households and open enrollment in Medicare for uninsured and unemployed people, when lawmakers take up another round of funding, the so-called phase four coronavirus bill.