Well, you know that 2020 is a messed up year when we come around the final stretch to find…Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in full agreement on something! Either this is a sure-fire sign of the end times, or it’s a sign of just how impossibly dysfunctional Washington has become. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your outlook), this instance appears to be more about the latter than the former.
On Monday, the House and the Senate passed a $900 billion COVID relief package, putting an end to months of (bad-faith, on the part of Nancy Pelosi) negotiations and finally getting money into the hands of struggling Americans. The catch? Even after all these months of debate, the bill was dropped off with lawmakers a mere six hours before they were due to vote on the package that afternoon. Six hours to read and digest a 5,000-page bill? That didn’t sit well with either AOC or Cruz.
“We have not read this bill,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “It’s over 5000 pages, arrived at 2pm today, and we are told to expect a vote on it in 2 hours. This isn’t governance. It’s hostage-taking. Members are reeling right now because they don’t have time to consult with their communities.”
Cruz agreed, tweeting out a message saying that AOC “is right.”
“ABSURD,” he wrote. “A $2.5 trillion spending bill negotiated in secret and then—hours later—demand an up-or-down vote on a bill nobody has had time to read.”
The two weren’t alone in criticizing the rush. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) said, “Special interests win. Americans lose.”
“No one will be able to read it all in its entirety,” Biggs said.
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) was also irate, calling the bill an example of “awful governance, and a disservice to the American people.”
The extraordinary-limited window of time given to lawmakers was a subject that could – rarely, these days – bring Republicans and Democrats together.
“There is no way that anybody in Congress had the opportunity or the time to go through and read this bill to know exactly what was in it,” wrote Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). “I’ve been here long enough to see how provisions are snuck into these bills, literally in the dark of night, without any announcement, without telling anyone what is in it, and then rushed through in the manner that we have just seen.”
Meanwhile, Rep. John Rose (R-TN) released a statement saying: “The House was forced to vote on a multi-trillion-dollar 5,600-page backroom deal that was given to members of Congress just hours before. I refuse to reward bad behavior with a ‘yes’ vote and that is especially true on a bill such as this that few people, most importantly my constituents, know what is actually in it.”
Good to know that, even in the midst of economic uncertainty and a global pandemic, swamp politics are alive and well.