23 Democrats are worried about ‘plunging’ student-loan borrowers back into repayment in October without a long-term plan for protecting their wages and credit scores

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  • 23 Democrats asked the Education Dept. how it will protect borrowers’ wages when student-loan payments resume.
  • They cited how nearly half of borrowers with defaulted loans can’t return to good credit standing.
  • Democrats are worried about “plunging” the borrowers back into repayment in October without long-term help.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Even if the pause on student-loan payments does get extended past October, it would only be temporary. Lawmakers want to ensure the Education Department has plans for long-term borrower protections.

On Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts led 23 of their Democratic colleagues in requesting information from the Education Department on practices that “harm student borrowers.” Specifically, in their letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, the lawmakers wanted to know the steps the department is taking to protect borrowers’ wages and benefits when payments resume.

“Even before the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, collections on defaulted student loans were catastrophic for borrowers in default, who saw their wages, tax refunds, and even Social Security checks confiscated, in addition to being forced to pay exorbitant fees,” the Democrats wrote.

The letter cited a report from the Center for American Progress that found 45% of borrowers in default have not found a path to return their loan to good credit standing, which makes housing and job opportunities more difficult to land.

Democrats added that although the CARES Act initially paused student-loan payments during the pandemic, the Education Department and Treasury Department still “improperly garnished and withheld” over $200 million from about 390,000 borrowers during this time.

“The Department’s failure to fully implement the collections moratorium raises concerns about how it will handle the upcoming scheduled resumption of collections and payments on October 1, 2021,” the letter said.

The Education Department also said it would refund any wage or tax refunds collected after the pandemic began, but over 23,000 borrowers who had their wages garnished have yet to receive refunds because the department didn’t have borrowers’ correct addresses on file, according to the National Consumer Law Center, which is why the Democrats are stressing the importance of proper preparation to transition into student-loan repayment.

Many Democrats who have signed this letter are also calling for the payment pause to be extended through at least March of next year, given that both borrowers and services have said they are not prepared to resume payments in just a few months.

The lawmakers wrote: “As we near the currently scheduled end of the suspension of payments and collections, we are concerned about plunging borrowers back into an untenable financial situation, causing long-term damage to their credit and financial stability and a sudden unnecessary drag on our recovering economy.”

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Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer are leading an effort to give student-loan borrowers another 6 months of relief

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer listens as Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on October 20, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • 64 Democrats sent a letter to Biden urging him to extend the student loan payment pause by 6 months.
  • Led by Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer, they say borrowers are still recovering from the pandemic.
  • Education Sec. Miguel Cardona has hinted at extending the pause but has not said so definitively.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Borrowers with student loans haven’t had to pay them back through the pandemic, but that pause on payments is set to lift at the end of September. Although Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has hinted at a futher extension of the pause, no details have yet been released.

Sixty-four Democrats want to give borrowers certainty – and an additional six months, at least, free of student-loan payments.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Connecticut Rep. Joe Courtney led 60 other Democratic colleagues in sending a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday, urging him to extend the student-loan payment pause until March 31, 2022, or until the economy returns to pre-pandemic employment levels, whichever is longer.

The Democrats wrote in the letter, obtained by Insider, that the pause on student-loan payments and interest have provided “essential relief” to borrowers during the pandemic.

“Borrowers have reaped significant benefits from the ongoing payment pause, taking the opportunity to pay down other debt, relieve financial pressures from lost jobs or decreased earnings, and support their families’ need,” the letter said.

But the lawmakers added that the “scheduled resumption of student loan payments in October could create a significant drag on our economic recovery.”

The letter noted that even as the economy is recovering from the pandemic, it is not reaching women and people of color equally. It cited research from Brandeis University that found the median Black borrower owes 95% of their debt twenty years after starting college, compared to only 6% for the median white borrower.

Insider reported last week that women can expect to earn a $35,000 salary right after graduation – not much more than the average female student-debt load, according to the American Association of University Women.

Warren was one of the Democrats that sent a letter to the CEOs of all student-loan servicers on Monday, requesting information on how they are best preparing borrowers to restart loan payments, warning of the “disastrous” consequences of dropping borrowers back into repayment without proper assistance.

Cardona said during a Senate hearing last week that he is continuing to have conversations on extending the payment pause past September, but the Education Department declined to provide further details on those conversations.

This letter is the latest of Democrats’ efforts to protect borrowers. Warren and Schumer are leading the effort to call on Biden to cancel $50,000 in student debt per borrower using his executive powers – that of which the Education and Justice Departments are currently reviewing.

The Democrats also acknowledged those reviews in their letter to Biden and urged their quick completion, but given the fast-approaching expiration of the payment pause, they want Biden to act on extending that first.

“President Biden can and must cancel student debt with the stroke of a pen. We urgently call on him to act,” Pressley said in a statement. “In the interim, extending this payment pause will provide a crucial additional layer of relief for millions of borrowers. We can’t turn our backs on these families as we work toward an equitable economic recovery.”

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Progressive Democrats call on Biden and the CDC to extend eviction moratorium which expires next week

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Usher speaks with Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., second from left, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., second from right, as they arrive for an event to mark the passage of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Washington.

  • A group of House Democrats called on Biden and the CDC to extend a federal eviction moratorium.
  • “It is an urgent matter of health, racial, and economic justice,” they wrote in a letter.
  • Around 7 million people are still behind on their rent, according to the Census Bureau.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Several progressive Democrats on Tuesday called on President Joe Biden and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend a federal eviction moratorium that is set to expire on June 30.

In a letter signed by 41 members of Congress and led by Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Cori Bush of Missouri, and Jimmy Gomez of California, the lawmakers urged the White House and CDC to “take action to prevent a historic wave of evictions and keep renters safely in their homes.” The letter was first reported by ABC News.

The group of House Democrats cited Census Bureau data that showed minority households, including Black, Latino, Asian and Indigenous, are more likely to be behind on their rent payments, arguing in support of the extension “to protect vulnerable renters” and “curtail the eviction crisis disproportionately impacting our communities of color.”

Around 7 million people are still behind on their rent, according to the Census Bureau.

The lawmakers also pointed to data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that found that communities with lower COVID-19 vaccination rates and higher cases happen to be more at risk of facing eviction.

“Allowing the moratorium to expire before vaccination rates increase in marginalized communities could lead to increased spread of, and deaths from, COVID-19,” they said in the letter.

“Evictions take lives and push households deeper into poverty, impacting everything from health outcomes to educational attainment,” they added. “The impact of the federal moratorium cannot be overstated, and the need to strengthen and extend it is an urgent matter of health, racial, and economic justice.”

Tenants struggling to pay their rent during the COVID-19 economic crisis were handed a lifeline in March 2020, when Congress first passed a federal eviction moratorium. The CDC then issued its own moratorium in September, which has since been extended twice. The current moratorium is set to expire at the end of the month.

Biden has previously expressed support to halt evictions until September 30. In his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed in March, the president allotted nearly $22 billion toward emergency rental assistance.

The White House did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

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A growing number of US states are giving newborns cash for college savings accounts. New research suggests it spurs parents to save more.

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Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).

  • Some states have opened college savings accounts for newborns, and the early results are good.
  • Oklahoma’s savings account for newborns spurred a greater interest in pursuing higher education.
  • Sen. Cory Booker reintroduced legislation in February to give every newborn $1,000 in college savings.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Providing newborns with college savings accounts at birth has been an idea that has floated around lawmakers’ minds for years. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, for example, campaigned on “baby bonds” when running for president, which would provide every child with a $1,000 savings account.

Some states are now beginning to follow suit. New research reveals those efforts could have an encouraging impact on children’s futures in the years ahead.

An Oklahoma research project, called SEED for Oklahoma Kids or SEED OK, launched 14 years ago by the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis to study whether creating a savings account for newborns would improve graduation rates and chances of going to college years later.

While the study is not completed, research published this month shows that the families given accounts were more college-focused and contributed more of their own money than those without accounts.

“Our findings demonstrate that CDAs (Child Development Accounts) create more positive outlooks and actions in the family, while also enabling families to grow assets for children’s higher education,” Michael Sherraden, the experiment’s principal investigator, told The New York Times on Tuesday, which reported on the research.

Here’s what states and lawmakers are doing to help further children’s educational successes:

State efforts

In 2007, over 1,300 newborns across Oklahoma were randomly selected to participate in SEED OK, which automatically opens an Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan account with a $1,000 initial deposit. Another 1,300 – the control group – were also randomly selected to participate, but weren’t given any money. By the end of 2019, those given accounts had an average of $3,243 saved, while only 4% of the control group ended up opening an account.

Also, parents of children with CDAs were over five times more likely to open their own accounts – the CDA in SEED OK prompted a 15-percentage-point increase in the number of accounts opened for the children by their parents.

Across accounts that held deposits from the program between 2008 and 2019, the average balance was $9,032, showing that funds deposited in the account at the child’s birth did not substitute parental savings, but instead, spurred more savings.

Oklahoma isn’t the only state to experiment with college savings accounts. In Maine, the private Harold Alfond Foundation started offering every newborn a $500 grant in 2009, and so far, 116,000 have received a total of $58 million, on top of additional family contributions of $114 million.

Nearly a decade later, in 2018, Pennsylvania adopted legislation to create accounts for every child born in the state with an initial deposit of $100, and this year, Illinois starting giving each newborn an account with $50.

California is also launching a program this year to give approximately 450,000 newborns college savings accounts.

Lawmakers’ efforts

Along with state legislatures, some Democrats on Capitol Hill want to create college savings accounts for every newborn in the country. In February, Booker reintroduced the American Opportunity Accounts Act, also known as “baby bonds,” which would create a savings account with $1,000 at birth, with additional deposits of up top $2,000 each year, depending on income.

“To truly ‘build back better’ our economy, we cannot ignore the extreme and persistent wealth inequality that deprives kids of economic opportunity right out of the gate,” Booker said in a statement. “We know this growing gap has been driven in part by federal policies and a federal tax code that subsidizes asset building for some Americans but fails to extend and expand that opportunity for all Americans. Baby Bonds will start to level the playing field.”

Conservative experts, though, have argued that baby bonds might disincentivize some people from saving their money. Rep. JP Freire, a Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, criticized Booker’s plans in a February tweet, calling them “job killers.”

“The best path out of poverty is a job,” Freire said.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley joined Booker in pushing for baby bonds, and they wrote a letter to Biden in January urging him to adopt the measure.

“When it comes to racial justice, we cannot afford to wait,” Booker and Pressley wrote. “As we emerge from this dark period of our nation’s history, Baby Bonds is exactly the type of universal, race conscious program necessary to build our economy back better.”

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Powerful images capture Cori Bush and Ayanna Pressley’s emotional reaction as Derek Chauvin was found guilty for the murder of George Floyd

cori bush ayanna pressley george floyd verdict
Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) embraces Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) as members of the Congressional Black Caucus react to the verdict in the Derick Chauvin murder trial in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol on April 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • Photos show Reps. Cori Bush and Ayanna Pressley in a tearful embrace following Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict Tuesday.
  • Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges in the killing of George Floyd, whose death sparked worldwide protests against racial injustice.
  • “Black men, I love you, and you deserve to grow old,” Pressley tweeted after the verdict.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Rep. Cori Bush, a Democrat from Missouri and Black Lives Matter activist, could be seen crying as she embraced Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

cori bush ayanna pressley george floyd verdict
Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) (C) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) walk with their arms around each other as members of the Congressional Black Caucus walk to a news conference following the verdict in the Derick Chauvin murder trial in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol on April 20, 2021.

Bush, a freshman congresswoman and Missouri’s first Black Congresswoman, said in a statement following the verdict that Chauvin’s trial “has been nothing short of a traumatizing, painful and gut-wrenching reminder of how difficult it is to hold police accountable when they murder members of our community.”

“Over the last month, we’ve been retraumatized, over, and over again as we watched 8 minutes and 46 seconds become 9 minutes and 29 seconds,” she wrote in the statement.

“Listening to the verdict today, I wanted to be overjoyed. But the truth is we should not have to wait with bated breath to find out whether accountability will be served.”

Source: Business Insider, Cori Bush

“The moment we heard the verdict, we held each other,” Bush wrote on Twitter with a video of her hugging Pressley, who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “This feeling is not easy. But all of us will carry each other through this.”

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Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., left, hugs Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., in the Rayburn Room in the U.S. Capitol after the reading of guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin trial on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

Pressley responded to Bush’s tweet, writing she was “so very grateful this justice seeker is my sister & colleague.”

“There was so much exchanged in this sisterly embrace,” Pressley tweeted. “History. Love. Trauma & Resolve. Our work is not done. We must contd fighting & legislating to save Black lives.”

Source: Twitter, Twitter

In a tweet following the reading of Chauvin’s guilty verdict, Pressley tweeted: “Black men, I love you, and you deserve to grow old.”

cori bush ayanna pressley george floyd verdict
Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) (C) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) walk with their arms around each other as members of the Congressional Black Caucus walk to a news conference following the verdict in the Derick Chauvin murder trial in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol on April 20, 2021.

“Despite today’s guilty verdict, this system can never deliver true justice for George Floyd and his family,” Pressley said in a statement. “True justice would be George Floyd, alive today, at home with his fiancé, children, and siblings.”

“The truth is that we never expected justice from this trial,” she continued. “We demanded accountability. Today, a jury delivered accountability and Chauvin will face consequences for his actions.”

Source: Rep. Ayanna Pressley

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Elizabeth Warren says the government should fire student loan servicer Navient, which should fire its CEO

Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Navient CEO John Remondi should be fired at a hearing on Tuesday.
  • Navient, one of the largest student loan servicers, has been accused of misleading borrowers.
  • Remondi said the allegations are untrue and “not necessarily based on facts.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Navient CEO John Remondi was at Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts’ first hearing on student debt relief. Warren told Remondi that he should be fired for misleading student loan borrowers, but that wasn’t all.

“The federal government should absolutely fire Navient, and because this happened under your leadership, Navient should fire you,” Warren told Remondi during the hearing.

Warren, as the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Economic Policy, called 11 witnesses to testify at the hearing to discuss the impact of student debt on borrowers, racial justice, and the economy.

Warren said in her letter to Remondi inviting him to testify at the hearing that while Navient currently services federal loans to 5.6 million borrowers and holds over $58 billion annually in federally guaranteed Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans, it also has “been a contributor to the problem, with a decade-long history of allegations of abusive and misleading practices aimed at student loan borrowers.”

She added that between 2009 and 2019, Navient has been accused or fined for “actions that ripped off borrowers,” including the improper marketing of loans and failing to notify borrowers of their rights.

And an ongoing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau investigation found evidence that Navient “systematically steered thousands of borrowers who were having difficulty paying their loans into plans that were worse for the borrowers – but more profitable for Navient.”

In February, three student loan borrowers filed a legal action against Navient, arguing that Navient owed them over $45,000 in overpayments that the company had wrongfully collected after their student loans had been discharged. This followed an Education Department ruling that Navient must repay the government $22 million in overcharged student loan subsidies.

In response to Warren’s questioning on investigations into Navient, Remondi said his job is “obviously to comply with the rules and laws, and we work hard to make sure all borrowers successfully manage their loans.”

“These allegations are not true,” Remondi said. “They’re accusations and not necessarily based on facts,” he added.

Also testifying at the hearing were Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, the attorney general of Massachusetts, and James Steeley, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.

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Over 3 dozen Democrats lawmakers urge Biden to commute the sentences of all remaining federal death row inmates

Joe Biden White House
President Joe Biden speaks at the White House on January 22, 2021.

  • Thirty-seven lawmakers asked President Joe Biden to commute the sentences of all remaining federal death row inmates.
  • The effort was led by Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Cori Bush of Missouri.
  • Biden is opposed to the death penalty and campaigned on ending the practice.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Over three dozen lawmakers, led by Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Cori Bush of Missouri, sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday asking him to commute the sentences of all remaining federal death row inmates and “recommit to the tradition of due process, mercy, and judicial clemency when it comes to matters related to the criminal legal system.”

The letter included co-signers like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Karen Bass of California, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Jamaal Bowman of New York, where they expressed “grave concerns regarding the death penalty” and criticized the pace of executions under President Donald Trump.

“Night after night in the final days of the Trump administration, the American people bore witness to the cruel and heinous practice of executions,” they wrote. “Americans from all walks of life appealed to the moral conscience of judges and the President to save the lives of those on death row. To no avail.”

Under the Trump administration, there were 13 federal executions. Before federal executions resumed in 2020, the last federal execution was carried out in 2003.

Read more: Trump tested the Constitution and shredded traditions. Biden and the Democrats have big plans of their own about what to do next.

The signatories urged Biden “to take swift, decisive action” in commuting the sentences of death row inmates and accused Trump of enabling “carnage and unrestrained violence that must be rectified immediately.”

“This moment demands a series of meaningful actions to ensure that no President can authorize the killing of Americans through the death penalty,” they wrote.

Biden, who opposes the death penalty, instead favors inmates serving life sentences without the possibility of parole or probation.

When asked about Biden’s commitment to ending the federal death penalty during a Wednesday press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki didn’t have updates on any immediate plans of action.

“The President, as you know, has stated his opposition to the death penalty in the past,” she said. “He remains – that remains his view. I don’t have anything more for you in terms of future actions or mechanisms, though.”

In the letter, the signatories remained hopeful that they could partner with Biden in halting future executions.

“We look forward to working with your administration to enact just and restorative policies that will meaningfully transform our criminal legal system for the better,” they wrote. “By exercising your clemency power, you can ensure that there would be no one left on death row to kill.”

They added: “Given the historic nature of your administration, this would be an unprecedented but necessary –  action to reverse systemic injustices and restore America’s moral standing.

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Rep. Ayanna Pressley dubs Georgia GOP Sens. Loeffler and Perdue ‘the Bonnie and Clyde of corruption’

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Rep. Ayanna Pressley speaks at a program voicing support for those protesting against police brutality against Black Americans in Boston on June 2, 2020.

  • Rep. Ayanna Pressley on Friday called Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue “the Bonnie and Clyde of corruption.”
  • The Massachusetts Democrat made the comments during an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid about turning out voters for the January 2021 runoff elections in the Peach State.
  • “Georgia, do your thing,” she said. “I know we’re asking a lot of Georgia … Do what you do. All eyes are on Georgia.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley on Friday slammed Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, calling them “the Bonnie and Clyde of corruption.”

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” with host Joy Reid, the Massachusetts Democrat spoke about turning out voters for the January 2021 runoff elections in the state, which will determine control of the US Senate.

“Georgia, do your thing,” she said. “I know we’re asking a lot of Georgia. But do your thing, Georgia. Do what you do. All eyes are on Georgia. [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell [of Kentucky]…Loeffler, Perdue – they are the Bonnie and Clyde of corruption.”

She added: “They are all the same. We need to regain control of the Senate. Georgia, do what you do.”

An analysis by The New York Times showed that Perdue sometimes made more than 20 stock transactions in one day, and he made nearly 2,600 trades during his first term in office. His financial transactions came under scrutiny this past year, with the Times reporting that “the Justice Department had investigated the senator for possible insider trading in his sale of more than $1 million worth of stock in a financial-analysis firm, Cardlytics.”

Though prosecutors ultimately did not file charges, questions lingered about stock trading among all senators and potential conflicts of interest.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department began an investigation into Loeffler after she sold millions of dollars’ worth of stock in January after a briefing about the coronavirus. No charges were filed in her case, and she has denied any wrongdoing, calling attacks against her “a political witch hunt by the fake news media.”

On December 15, President-elect Joe Biden visited Georgia to stump for the challengers to Loeffler and Perdue, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively.

Loeffler, who is running in a special election to fill the remaining term of GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson, and Perdue, who is running for reelection to a second term, both fell below the 50% threshold to win their races outright, which necessitated runoff elections.

The 2020 elections produced a 50-48 advantage for the Republicans, with the outstanding Georgia Senate races making the difference in McConnell keeping control of the chamber or Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York becoming the new majority leader. If Democrats can win both seats, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be able to break tie votes, giving the party control of the Senate for the first time since 2015.

As of Friday morning, over 1.1 million voters had already cast ballots for the runoff elections, according to Reuters.

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‘These are survival checks’: Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley slammed $600 coronavirus stimulus checks as insufficient

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Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), questions U.S. Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy as he testifies during a hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on August 24, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley did not mince words when criticizing the $600 dollar stimulus checks which are reportedly included in Congress’s latest proposal for a coronavirus stimulus package.

“At this point, these are not even stimulus checks. These are survival checks,” the Massachusetts congresswoman said in an interview on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” on Friday. 

“My constituents need these moneys to remain safely housed,” Pressley said, adding that “600 dollars does not even cover one month’s rent.”

As Business Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig reported, following a prolonged contention over a stimulus package, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are in talks of a $900 billion coronavirus relief package as of Wednesday morning, and the proposal reportedly includes direct payments of around $600 per individual –  roughly half of the $1,200 stimulus in March.

Pressley criticized that the GOP-led Senate is “completely disconnected and removed from the hardship that American people are experiencing every day.”

Read more: EXCLUSIVE: Jared Kushner helped create a Trump campaign shell company that secretly paid the president’s family members and spent $617 million in reelection cash, a source tells Insider

Progressive Democrats have urged that congress includes $2,000 stimulus checks in the coronavirus relief package, noting that “this type of direct assistance has proven to be critical to lifting people out of poverty and have been among the most effective programs to address the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Zeballos-Roig reported.  Earlier this month, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders have both pushed for a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks.

Ocasio-Cortez, also a member of “the squad” of progressive lawmakers alongside Pressley, criticized Senate Republicans that they “just [don’t] care” and slammed the $600 checks as an “insultingly low amount,” Business Insider’s Sophia Ankel reported.





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A week after Brandon Bernard’s execution and multiple attempts to persuade Trump to stop others, dozens of members of Congress are asking Biden to end the federal death penalty

Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020.

  • Dozens of members of Congress have called on President-elect Joe Biden to abolish the death penalty in all jurisdictions on his first day in office, CNN reported. 
  • The call comes after the execution of Brandon Bernard during a presidential lame-duck period. 
  • Activists had previously called on President Donald Trump to halt Bernard’s execution, as well as other scheduled during the presidential transition period. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Forty members of Congress and three recently elected members are urging President-elect Joe Biden to abolish the death penalty in all jurisdictions on his first day in office, CNN reported. 

The call was voiced in a letter written by Rep. Ayanna Pressley and sent to Biden’s transition team. In the letter, Pressley slams President Donald Trump’s administration for executing “more people in six months than the total number executed over the previous six decades.”

“With a stroke of your pen, you can stop all federal executions, prohibit United States Attorneys from seeking the death penalty, dismantle death row at FCC Terre Haute, and call for the resentencing of people who are currently sentenced to death,” Pressley wrote in the letter obtained by CNN. “Each of these elements are critical to help prevent greater harm and further loss of life.”

The call comes after the execution of Brandon Bernard and after multiple pleas to President Donald Trump to stop executions that were scheduled during the presidential transition period. 

Last week, Bernard became the ninth inmate to be executed this year by the Bureau of Prisons after a 17-year hiatus. So far, ten people have been executed this year. Bernard’s execution was the first of five scheduled before January 20, when Biden is sworn in, the BBC reported.

Bernard’s lawyers, as well as activists, pleaded for his sentence to be commuted to life in prison. His death was also the first time an execution has been carried out during a presidential lame-duck period in 130 years. 

“The current administration has weaponized capital punishment with callous disregard for human life,” Pressley wrote.

Additionally, the Death Row Information Center has reported that there 52 people on federal death row and 18 pending state executions. 

Biden has pledged to abolish the federal death penalty and to work to incentivize states to abolish theirs. 

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