On Thursday evening, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez held her monthly town hall for the constituents of New York’s 14th Congressional District.
The Congresswoman used the bulk of the virtual event to provide an update on negotiations around a COVID-19 relief bill.
“Folks in our community are on the brink of eviction. We have just an insane amount of food instability in our community. And, it just feels like the Republican Party in the Senate just doesn’t care,” said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez at the town hall. “What we were able to do is that at the beginning of the week there were no stimulus payments at all – there was zero dollars. And now, we’ve clawed our way to $600. I think $600 is even still an insulting low amount, and we’re going to have to figure things out from there. What the name of the game is right now is survival until January 20th [the presidential inauguration] and reassessing our situation from there.”
The Congresswoman also took questions from constituents on the MTA funding crisis, economic relief for catering halls, Spanish-language outreach around the COVID-19 vaccine, oversight of the PPP program, student debt forgiveness, and the Green New Deal. Additionally, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez answered questions from local and national media on the Georgia Senate races, her plans for her district in 2021, and whether or not she would vote for a COVID-19 relief bill that included just a $600 stimulus check.
In her final town hall of her first term, the Congresswoman also reviewed some of the progress she made over the last two years. To date, she has introduced 23 pieces of legislation and saw two amendments pass into law – shifting $5 million from the failed war on drugs to treatment for opioid addiction, and securing $10 million to clean up toxic bombardment sites in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
In the House, the Congresswoman led a successful vote to repeal the Faircloth Amendment, which is critical to the expansion of affordable housing and to the execution of the Green New Deal. The Congresswoman also introduced The Loan Shark Prevention Act, to cap credit card interest rates at 15%, and The Green New Deal for Public Housing, which would invest up to $180 billion over ten years to create a quarter million jobs per year nationwide. Additionally, she introduced the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Act, which would help families cover funeral expenses, and called for a bailout of taxi cab rivers.
The Congresswoman also introduced the Just Society suite of bills, which collectively would raise the federal poverty line, include immigrants in social safety net programs, require federal contractors to pay a living wage, strengthen renters’ rights, and decrease recidivism. Overall, the Congresswoman had more amendments made in order than 90 percent of the freshmen class.
In committee hearings, the Congresswoman earned a reputation as a fierce, prepared questioner whose lines of inquiry delivered real results. She pressured a major pharmaceutical company into lowering the price of a drug that reduces HIV transmission, and worked with her colleagues to force a defense contractor to return $16.1 million in federal funding.
The Congresswoman also got Michael Cohen to state on the record that President Donald Trump was engaging in tax fraud and to divulge other information that helped the New York Attorney General open an investigation into the Trump Organization. The Congresswoman’s questioning also helped overturn the unjust citizenship question on the Census.
In the district, over the last two years, Representative Ocasio-Cortez hosted 25 town halls, all of which provided language translation services and accessibility for the hearing impaired. The District Office also opened cases for over 1,400 constituents, assisting with everything from immigration visas and Social Security payments to small business loans and veterans benefits. Additionally, staff answered over 19,000 calls and provided 2,800 written responses to constituents. Various institutions in NY-14 also received $470 million in federal grant money during the Congresswoman’s first term.
The full video of the virtual town hall can be viewed here.