Pelosi objects to GOP ‘pause’ on next relief bill: ‘Hardship doesn’t take a pause’
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday pushed back against Senate Republicans who have called for a “pause” before enacting any additional coronavirus relief legislation as her leadership team prepares to unveil its proposal.
House Democrats are expected to introduce as soon as Tuesday their latest legislation to help mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic, including expanded unemployment insurance, food assistance, additional direct payments to individuals and funding for state and local governments.
“We have to put money in the pockets of the American people, recognizing the pain, the agony that they are feeling. To those who would suggest a pause, I’ll say the hunger doesn’t take a pause, the rent doesn’t take a pause, the hardship doesn’t take a pause,” Pelosi said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow have both suggested that lawmakers should “pause” to review the measures that Congress and the Trump administration have already enacted in response to COVID-19 before considering additional legislation.
“We’re basically assessing what we’ve done already. I’m in constant communication with the White House and if we decide to go forward we’ll go forward together,” McConnell told reporters on Monday, after suggesting a “pause” last week. “I don’t think we have yet felt the urgency of acting immediately. That time could develop, but I don’t think it has yet.”
Kudlow told ABC News’s “This Week” on Sunday that there are “informal” discussions between Congress and the White House ongoing.
“I think many people would like to just pause for a moment and take a look at the economic impact of this massive assistance program which is the greatest in the United States history,” Kudlow said.
House Democrats are nonetheless pressing ahead with legislation of their own to outline their priorities for any upcoming bipartisan negotiations and put pressure on Republicans who aren’t rushing to propose new relief legislation at this point.
“I think when [Americans] see what we’re doing, it will be big, because the problem is big and the needs are big of the American people that it will be more attention paid to what the Republicans are saying or doing,” Pelosi said.
She confirmed the basic contours of the bill will include state and local government funding, more direct payments expanding upon the one-time checks enacted by the $2.2 trillion relief package in March and funding for food stamps.
Pelosi also said that there is an “interest” in hazard pay for front-line workers, but did not offer specifics. Many Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), have called for providing special pay increases for essential workers, such as medical professionals, first responders and grocery store clerks.
A proposal from Schumer and other Senate Democrats would give essential workers up to $25,000 in hazard pay, which would amount to a $13-per-hour raise.
“Yes, there is an interest in doing hazard pay for those who are on the front line. It isn’t mandatory so much as it is an imperative to do so. And that’s what we’re writing down now,” Pelosi said.
“We want to honor them, so that we’re worthy of their sacrifice and we’re doing so in a big way.”
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