Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) admitted that she and her progressive colleagues have been blocking legislation aimed at providing relief to small business workers in order to hold on to political leverage.
The congresswoman made the comments during a virtual news conference Monday with fellow progressive lawmakers and activists, in which they pushed for illegal immigrants to be included in the next round of coronavirus relief, among other Congressional Progressive Caucus priorities.
"We don't know what's in the package yet, we only know what's been reported," Jayapal said during the #PutPeopleFirst conference. "But I think what you're hearing from all of us on the call is that we have real concerns about giving away leverage now without getting some of the priorities we need."
The Senate Republican Communications Center posted a video of her remarks on Twitter, writing: "Think about that: Democrats would rather use workers as partisan leverage than actually help them."
One leading House Democrat came right out and said they've been blocking urgent money for workers' paychecks becausâ�¦ https://t.co/iom6QNSsJe— Senate Republican Communications Center (@Senate Republican Communications Center) 1587485023.0
Along with Jayapal, the #PutPeopleFirst conference included progressive activists, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and "squad" members Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
Jayapal's comments came as Congress was in the middle of negotiations over "Phase 3.5" of the coronavirus relief package designed to aid small businesses impacted by the coronavirus-related shutdowns. Then news broke on Tuesday afternoon that the White House and congressional leaders had reached a deal on the core components of the relief bill.
In a statement regarding the deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that Democratic leaders finally abandoned a number of their "unrelated demands" during the final stages of negotiations, but lamented that they took 12 days to do so and at the expense of so many American workers.
MCCONNELL: â��It took Democrats 12 days to accept the inevitable. They shut down emergency support for Main Street inâ�¦ https://t.co/rr9G5mHNl0— Senate Republican Communications Center (@Senate Republican Communications Center) 1587499692.0
The legislation is expected to get a vote in the coming days, and at this juncture, it appears that Jayapal and her progressive colleagues' push for leverage was a failure.