Pelosi slams GOP, says $1.3 trillion in coronavirus relief not enough
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday rejected a White House offer for a $1.3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, saying the latest proposal from the GOP falls well short of what is needed to help Americans weather the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pelosi said in a “dear colleague” letter to members of her caucus that she does not support anything less than the $2.2 trillion package proposed by Democrats. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows had floated the $1.3 trillion figure earlier in the day, saying President Trump would back it. The figure was up from the Senate GOP’s proposal of $1.1 trillion.
“As the virus and the accompanying economic crisis devastate lives and livelihoods, Senate Republicans and the White House continue to display their contempt for science and their contempt for state and local government,” Pelosi wrote Friday.
“Yesterday, when I spoke with the White House, they made clear that they still do not comprehend the needs of the American people as lives and livelihoods are overwhelmed by the virus and its economic consequences,” she added.
The Trump administration and congressional Democrats have been wrangling for weeks over a fifth coronavirus spending bill, with both sides coming together briefly this week to rekindle talks. But negotiations have quickly stalled again, as the White House threatens to pursue unilateral action.
Talks between Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) broke down early this month amid disagreements over the size of the package.
The Democratic-led House passed a $3.4 trillion bill in May, but GOP lawmakers argued the price tag was too high and that the bill contained “poison pills” they could not get behind.
Pelosi on Friday accused Republicans of being in a state of “disarray,” adding that Democrats were willing to come down from their initial $3 trillion requests.
“Over a month ago, House and Senate Democrats said that we would be willing to cut a trillion dollars from the Heroes Act if the White House would add one trillion to the Senate bill. In consultation with our Committees Chairs, we have now said we would be willing to go down to $2.2 trillion. These investments are needed both to save lives and to boost the economy,” she wrote.
“The Democrats are unified, but the Republicans are in disarray. Press reports are stating that [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.] has come down to $500 billion in his proposal and that Mark Meadows is saying that the White House might go to $1.3 trillion,” she added. “Neither of these proposals would meet the needs of American workers and families.”
Meadows said last Saturday that there are a number of areas where both sides agree, with potential to come together in areas including stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits and additional funding for child care during the course of the pandemic.
But Pelosi slammed Republicans for pushing back on the level of funding Democrats argue is needed to safely reopen schools and funding for state and local governments.
“As children return to schools, I have great concern over the Republicans’ refusal to acknowledge the funding levels that experts and scientists tell us are needed for safe school reopening. They are also rejecting the funding needed for 14 million hungry children in America and rejecting funding for children’s families for rental assistance when millions are at risk of eviction and homelessness,” she wrote.
“Their contempt for state, local, tribal and territorial governments endangers health care workers, first responders and other frontline workers, in addition to teachers. Support for teachers and education are essential for the children. But Mitch McConnell has said that states should just go bankrupt.”
The California Democrat then took a swing at Republicans for not supporting Democrats’ push for additional funding for the U.S. Postal Service to ensure mail-in ballots will be counted on Election Day.
“And they are rejecting the funding needed to ensure that no one has to choose between their health and their vote this November,” she said.
“This is a debate about values and common sense, not dollars and cents. We hope Republicans will come to the table and accept our lower offer to save the lives and livelihoods of the American people,” she added.