Meadows blames Pelosi ‘fantasy objection’ for impasse on coronavirus relief talks
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows blamed stalled negotiations over the future of a second coronavirus relief package on a “fantasy objection” from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who he said would not explain what her version of a stimulus package would fund.
In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Meadows attacked the House leader over her unwillingness to come down from a demand that Republicans support a $2.2 trillion bill for the second round of economic stimulus in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pelosi and House Democrats have noted that the offer is lower than their original plan for a second round of stimulus, the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act.
“I had a conversation with Speaker Pelosi. And even on her $2.2 trillion counter offer, she can’t tell the American people, nor me, what is in that,” Meadows said.
“She puts forth a number, suggests that she came down, and yet she’s willing to turn down $1.3 trillion of help that goes to the American people because she would rather them have nothing than to give way on what … her fantasy objection might be,” he continued.”
He went on to suggest that Pelosi claimed she would “fill in the blanks” during a conversation between the two when Meadows asked what the $2.2 trillion counter-offer would fund compared to the $1 trillion Heals Act, which Senate Republicans have proposed.
“I said,’What does the $2.2 trillion represent?'” Meadows told host Chuck Todd, quoting himself during a recent phone call with the speaker. “You know what her response was? ‘I’m not going to tell you. Let me fill in the blanks.’ That’s not a proper negotiation, or not is it anything that the American people accept.”
A representative for the speaker called these comments misleading, contending that Meadows himself had refused to break down the costs of his own offer during Thursday’s conversation in a phone call with The Hill, and said that the point of Thursday’s call was to determine whether Republicans had budged from their own offer of $1 trillion.
The House speaker addressed her conversation with Meadows during a press conference Thursday, telling reporters at the time that Democrats would not be making further concessions after lowering the cost of their offer by more than a trillion dollars.
“We have said again and again that we are willing to come down [and] meet them in the middle,” she told reporters. “That would be $2.2 trillion. When they’re ready to do that, we’ll be ready to discuss and negotiate. I did not get that impression on that call.”
“They have to move. They have to move. Why should there be a bill that has far less than what the public needs. We have that responsibility, and they’re just going to have to come up with more money,” she added.
Updated at 5:30 p.m.
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