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Online Extra: Rep. Lee favors cash assistance during coronavirus pandemic

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Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Photo: Liz Highleyman
Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Photo: Liz Highleyman  

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) on Thursday said that financial assistance for Americans is a key in the economic recovery due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Her stance, made in a phone town hall with constituents, differs from what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said in a call with her constituents an hour earlier.

Lee said that she is pushing for "key provisions" in a House bill, the Family First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes "cash assistance for every adult and child."

The bill also includes paid leave provisions, food assistance for others, free coronavirus tests, and changes in Medicaid funding.

During Pelosi's call, the speaker said she doesn't think giving every American a $1,000 check is the right way to go. She prefers seeing the cash infusions be targeted to families and individuals that are truly hurting economically and not to those with solid fiscal means, though she acknowledged there are differing views on that even within her own House Democratic caucus.

"It will make a difference for people living paycheck to paycheck," she said. "Not everybody needs $1,000 checks. People have big needs; we want it to go where it is needed most."

Lee also reiterated social distancing and other guidelines health officials in Alameda County and several others unveiled Monday with an order to shelter in place.

"Social distancing is key to prevention," she said, referring to the practice of people staying at least six feet away from each other and staying at home.

"Short term pain will help our country," she said.

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