Pelosi: ‘Hope’ is to vote on ‘at least part’ of COVID-19 funds this week
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Monday it is her “hope” to vote on at “at least part” of the White House’s request for funding to fight COVID-19 this week after the money was stripped from a funding bill last week.
“We’ll have to get it done,” Pelosi said at a press conference during a trip to New York. “It would be my hope that we could bring up a bill this week that would do at least part of that.”
The government funding package passed last week would have had $15.6 billion to fight the virus. It was not immediately clear how much funding would be in the “part” that Pelosi referred to, but about half of the total was paid for with offsets that drew objections from some House Democrats.
Pelosi ended up removing the funding from last week’s package because of objections from some House Democrats that the money was paid for by rescinding a portion of state aid from a previous relief package.
She noted on Monday her disappointment with having to make that decision to allow the larger funding bill to pass.
“States are getting billions of dollars, we’re taking a small percentage,” she said of the offset.
“I was very disappointed, I have to say,” she added. “I mean I usually would not say that to you. But this is the president’s pivotal plan.”
Senate Republicans have insisted that the COVID-19 funding be fully paid for, meaning any bill the House passed that did not meet that standard would likely be unable to pass the Senate.
Pelosi also noted that she herself is a “big pay-as-you-go person.”
With Republicans insisting on spending offsets and a group of House Democrats objecting to them for about half of the funds, it is unclear what the path forward is.
The White House says the funds are urgently needed and that without more money, the country’s testing capacity will decline starting this month, key treatment pills will be exhausted by September and work on next-generation vaccines for new variants will suffer, among other impacts.
Even the $15.6 billion that was in discussion last week was less than earlier White House requests, first for around $30 billion and then for $22.5 billion.
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