Stimulus Checks: What Is #OccupyCongress?

Americans are getting desperate for more financial aid amid the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic recession, and they are rallying on social media. The new hashtag "Occupy Congress" calls on Americans from all along the political spectrum to demand action from their elected representatives or else vote them out in November. They want new faces to "Occupy" the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Senate and the U.S. Congress have hit a standstill in negotiations for a second stimulus check to buoy Americans through this recession. The lack of cooperation is very discouraging to many Americans, underscoring the partisan divide of the U.S. as a whole. Under the hashtag "Occupy Congress," desperate Americans are flooding their representatives with tweets, calls, emails and other forms of digital address to demand action, or vote them out.

Part of the stalemate in the two legislatures right now is the finger-pointing over specific issues. The House passed a stimulus bill back in May, which would have provided another stimulus check, extended unemployment, extended the moratorium on evictions and provided funding for other forms of aid during the crisis. However, critics in the Senate focused on the more far-fetched items in the bill, such as funding for research into social and economic disparity in the burgeoning legal cannabis industry in the U.S.

On the other hand, the Senate stalled until July before writing a stimulus bill with half the budget of the previous package, the CARES Act. It provided a stimulus check but slashed unemployment benefits by two thirds. Democrats indicated that they would not budge on the issue of unemployment. At the same time, Republicans stood firm on the need for liability protections for businesses, so that they could not be sued if people caught COVID-19 on their premises.

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This stalemate could not be broken before Aug. 10, when the Senate left Washington on a month-long recess. Americans argued that the Senate should have postponed their break, or else that the House should have agreed to a skinny bill so that something could be passed before mid-September.

This fighting and politicking are all the more infuriating in comparison to the economic responses of other countries to the coronavirus pandemic. Users in the "Occupy Congress" hashtag have provided many examples, and others have been compiled in a report by Business Insider. From stimulus checks to medical care to protections for small businesses, countries around the world have set their agendas aside to handle this crisis efficiently. Now, Americans are calling for the U.S. to do the same.