Pelosi: Hopefully Trump diagnosis yields ‘saner approach’ to tackling coronavirus

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday that she’s hopeful the news that President Trump has contracted COVID-19 will spur the country — and Congress — to take more aggressive steps to “crush” the deadly coronavirus.

“Maybe now that people who see the president of the United States with all the protection that he has, and the first lady, still having this exposure, it might be … a learning experience,” Pelosi said in an interview with MSNBC. “But more than learning, it has to be something that is acted upon.”

The Speaker has long criticized Trump for what she considers a disdain for the severity of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 207,000 people in the United States alone.

She suggested that the president’s repeated reluctance to wear a mask — combined with his decision to continue holding campaign rallies with large crowds — had made Trump’s illness all but inevitable.

“Going into crowds, unmasked and all the rest, was sort of a brazen invitation for something like this to happen,” she said. “Sad that it did, but nonetheless hopeful that it will be a transition to a saner approach to what this virus is all about.”

Pelosi said she took a coronavirus test Friday morning “out of an abundance of caution,” but has not yet received the results. Pelosi had huddled Wednesday for 90 minutes in the Capitol with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, as the pair seeks a compromise on another round of emergency coronavirus relief.

A Mnuchin spokesman said the Treasury secretary had tested negative for the virus on Friday.

“He informed me early this morning that he was [negative],” Pelosi said of Mnuchin. “And prior to our meetings he has said, ‘I have been tested because I am in touch with the president. We are all tested.’ So that was good for me, as well.”

Pelosi pointed to Trump’s contraction of the virus as evidence that Congress needs to step in with a new round of emergency coronavirus aid, including billions of dollars for testing, tracing and treatment.

On Thursday night, House Democrats passed a sweeping, $2.2 trillion stimulus package that included $75 billion for those areas. But Republicans in the White House and Senate have rejected the legislation out of hand, citing the price tag after Congress has already spent almost $3 trillion on emergency aid earlier in the year. Mnuchin on Wednesday had offered Pelosi a $1.6 trillion counter-proposal, which the Speaker has said is insufficient to address the health and economic devastation caused by the pandemic.

“Having the treatment is very important; we’re glad the president has it, we want it for everyone,” Pelosi said. “That’s in our bill.”

It’s unclear if Trump’s diagnosis whets a new appetite for another round of relief before the elections. Eighteen moderate Democrats had opposed the $2.2 trillion bill — noting that it has no chance of becoming law while Republicans control the White House and Senate — and Pelosi promised them she will continue negotiations on a bipartisan deal that can win Trump’s signature.

“We will have a bipartisan bill, that’s our goal to have,” she told MSNBC.

The House is tentatively scheduled to leave Washington on Friday for a long break heading into the Nov. 3 elections, though lawmakers have been told that weekend votes are possible if a breakthrough agreement with the White House is reached in the coming days.

The Speaker also raised doubts about the effectiveness of the rapid tests being used at the White House.

“I have concern about the tests, because obviously the tests that are happening at the White House are not as accurate as they should be,” she said. “And that’s a discussion that we have to have, especially since, when it has led to the exposure of the president of the United States, that should have been avoided.”

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Nancy Pelosi Steven Mnuchin

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