Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the high-profile freshman from New York, is leaving open the option of forcing House members to return to Washington to cast a vote on the $2 trillion stimulus package barreling through Congress.
The New York Democrat has expressed her frustration with reports of the stimulus deal, suggesting it’s too tilted towards corporations. The deal was reached between senators from both parties – including the senior Democratic senator from her state, Chuck Schumer, and the White House.
On Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez told CNN she is not ruling out asking for a recorded vote, which would force lawmakers to return to Washington and vote in-person, something that most members of Congress are eager to avoid amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ocasio-Cortez said she hadn’t seen the final bill text yet, “but I’m open” to asking for a recorded vote “if necessary.”
Asked if she had concerns about forcing lawmakers to return, which would be an unpopular move, she said, “Of course.”
But she added: “With the health risks of travel, there is no easy choice here. But essential workers are showing up and putting their health at risk every day, and if the final text of a bill is set up to hurt them, it may be something we have to do.”
The move would upset the plans of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who told Democrats on a Wednesday conference call that she prefers that the Senate measure is adopted by the House by unanimous consent, according to a source on the call. Any member could object to unanimous approval.
Another option: Allowing the House to vote by voice, which would allow the presiding officer to determine which side has the most votes. Still, members can ask for a recorded, roll-call vote, which would force the House members to vote in person.
Pelosi told her caucus on a conference call that a House vote would not occur Wednesday, according to a source on the call. And House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he would give lawmakers 24 hours notice before scheduling a vote.
Pelosi also said she’s in contact with the House physician’s office about what precautions must be taken in case members are forced to return to Washington, a source on the call said.
A recorded vote could delay final passage for days.