“I’m here to say to the Squad, and especially AOC, who, you know, did make a lot of promises, that we still have faith in you and we would like to see if you have a better plan than we’ve been able to see, please share it,” Ms Sarandon told the assembled crowd using a megaphone.
The event was advertised as a Medicare for All rally. “If there’s a pathway you’ve got that we’re not aware of please share it. Because we’re losing hope here that you represent us.”
According to the event page at actionnetwork.org, the protesters were demanding that Ms Ocasio-Cortez “call on Biden to declare a pandemic public health emergency and expand Medicare to every American using Section 1881A of the Social Security Act”.
The US Department of Health and Human Services first declared the existence of a public health emergency on 27 January 2020, during the Trump administration. Trump Health Secretary Alex Azar renewed the declaration four times before leaving office. His predecessor under President Biden, Secretary Xavier Becerra, has renewed it twice, most recently on 19 July.
The protesters also demanded that Ms Ocasio-Cortez “use every legislative tool available to pass Medicare for all in Congress”, that she uses her “huge social media followings, ability to get press, and celebrity to organise direct actions for Medicare for all”, and that she meet with her constituents and organisers to put together “a fearless new campaign for single-payer”.
“So many of these progressive candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ran on being activists fighting for change. It’s time for them to leverage that power to help call on the people to come out and pressure Congress to do the right thing for once,” the event organisers write.
“You campaigned on Medicare for All. But you didn’t demand a floor vote on it when you had the power to leverage the Speaker vote. You didn’t demand that single-payer be included in the pandemic recovery bill,” their petition adds.
“You moved the introduction of the House bill till after the stimulus bill passed reducing your own leverage. You have never demanded that Biden use Section 1881A of the Social Security Act to expand Medicare to every American by executive action.”
Ms Sarandon added in her speech: “It’s so difficult for people that are independent to get elected in the first place – and then to see the very people that sponsored the bill not stand up for it, is very disheartening.”
The Independent has reached out to the office of Ms Ocasio-Cortez for comment.