House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told State of The Union‘s Jake Tapper on Sunday, September 27, that she is “hoping for a deal.” Pelosi has been engaged in negotiations with the White House and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to pass another coronavirus relief package, since the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, was passed in late March.
In May, the House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, and later in May Republicans introduced the $1 trillion HEALS Act. Since then, Pelosi has offered to trim the Democrats’ bill by $800 billion and Republicans have increased their package by $300 billion, but lawmakers have struggled to close the gap between $2.2 trillion and $1.3 trillion.
During her interview with Tapper, Pelosi said, “I think we, we have a chance to get something done and we want to – what we will be putting forth is a proffer to say: Now, let us negotiate within a time frame and a dollar amount to get the job done to put money in people’s pockets, to honor our heroes and to crush the virus.”
Pelosi also expressed frustration with the idea that the Democrats should have to bring their proposal down any further: “This – look, I have been willing to come below $3.4 trillion. We have come all the way down,” she said. “So, I don’t know why the press decides that – this equivalent for me to come down further while they’re not going up any further.”
The Hill reported that Pelosi and Mnuchin have begun negotiating over a new bill that the House of Representatives could vote on as early as next week. Though the bill is expected to come in at $2.4 trillion, higher than the $2.2 trillion proposal the Senate has already rejected, Forbes reported that the specifics of the Democrats’ new bill could stimulate negotiations by demonstrating a willingness to compromise on specific issues.
Pelosi Says the $2.4 Trillion Price Tag for the Next Stimulus Package Is Necessary for Recovery
In her interview with Tapper, Pelosi said she is not set on a specific bill but wants a bipartisan proposal likely to pass. “I’d rather have a deal that puts money in people’s pockets than to have a rhetorical argument. What we will be putting forth is a proffer to say, now let us negotiate within a time frame and a dollar amount to get the job done,” Pelosi told Tapper.
However, Pelosi also said that it’s important people realize the larger-sized stimulus translates into a broader relief package and said that Republicans should rethink their focus on trying to pass a cheaper package:
At some point, the public is going to have to see why $2.2 [trillion] or, now, $2.4 – perhaps – trillion dollars is necessary … For restaurants, for small stages around the country, for, again, more money needed for PPP, more money for the airlines and the rest. So, we may need more money than that.
… If they do not want to go to that place, if they’re not going to meet the needs of the American people, if they’re not ready to do what is necessary to crush, to crush the virus, to honor our heroes, our health care workers, our teachers, our transportation, sanitation, first responders, police and fire. If they don’t want to recognize that these people are risking their lives to save lives and now they will lose their jobs to the tune of millions of people and then go on Unemployment Insurance. (Is) that smart? I don’t think so.
How close are Pelosi and Mnuchin on getting a deal done?
According to The Hill, Mnuchin said that he has spoken to Pelosi multiple times as part of their consideration of a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown and on how best to move forward on a new pandemic relief bill. “I’ve probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days on the CR and we’ve agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act,” he said.
During Mnuchin’s recent testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, he said Trump still wants Americans to receive $1,200 checks for individuals and $2,400 checks for married couples. “The president and I remain committed to providing support for American workers and businesses,” he said. “We continue to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis to pass a phase four relief program.”
During her interview with Tapper, Pelosi said, “When I have a conversation with the Administration, it is in good faith. I trust Secretary Mnuchin to represent something that can reach a solution and I believe we can come to an agreement.”
Democrats Have Been Working on a New Bill
Forbes reported that Pelosi will introduce a new coronavirus relief bill that would provide about $2.4 trillion in funding, a reduction of $1 trillion from the Democrats’ original proposal and a $1.3 trillion increase from the Republicans’ most expensive proposal.
According to The Washington Post, the increased price tag is the result of “urgent needs arising from restaurants and airlines” and includes another round of stimulus checks, aid to local and state governments, additional unemployment benefits, and funding for the U.S. Postal Service and the November elections.
During her interview with Jake Tapper, Pelosi said it was “definitely a possibility” that she would bring legislation forward even if a deal is not struck with Republicans and the White House.
Pelosi Sent a Letter Urging Fellow Democrats to Grow Their House Majority
Concerns arose following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that debates over whether the Senate should fill the Supreme Court seat might hurt negotiations. However, reporter Jake Sherman shared a letter via Twitter indicating Pelosi is more focused on holding the House of Representatives.
According to Sherman, Pelosi wrote that the election could be decided by a statute in the 12th Amendment that gives the power to decide the contest to each state delegation in the House of Representatives:
We all understand the historically high stakes of this year’s election. We must grow our House majority and win back the Senate — and we must elect Joe Biden president. Sadly, Donald Trump has made it increasingly clear that he will do whatever it takes to remain in power … He was suggesting that if GOP leaders can hold up the final election results so that Joe Biden doesn’t get 270 electoral votes certified, the 12th Amendment would reqiure the House to decide the presidential contest. But instead of giving every Member of Congress a vote, the 12th Amendment gives each state one vote, which is determined by a vote of the state’s delegation. In other words, how many state delegations the Democrats win in this upcoming election could determine who our next President is.
Pelosi Says the Republicans’ Support of Barrett Could Backfire
After hinting that he had already decided on his pick, Trump announced on Saturday, September 26, his Supreme Court nomination of conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Pelosi didn’t rule out impeachment as a tactic to stall Barrett’s confirmation during her interview with Tapper. She said, “Well, the – what’s the use of talking about that?”
Pelosi then reminded Tapper that the Supreme Court — one week after the election — will decide a case on the constitutionality of protecting pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act and that selecting a nominee hostile to that effort would hurt Republicans in the long run.
“What we’re talking about is the price the Republican Senators will pay if they vote to overturn the pre-existing medical condition, which they’ve been out to get, as well as the President, have been out to overturn, no matter what they say,” she said. “Now, I’m not into the process. I’m into the policy. But I do want to point out that they have totally misrepresented their position on this, in fact, you could say they are lying.”
You can read more about how the Supreme Court fight and the Affordable Care Act are related here.
In a statement responding to Pelosi’s comments, Republican Whip Steve Scalise released a statement criticizing Democrats for attempting “another political witch hunt”:
As Democrats gear up for another political witch hunt, Republicans are determined to keep the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis focused on addressing China’s cover-up, combatting the virus, and reopening our economy. Democrats want to use the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis to pin this global pandemic on President Trump. We cannot let that blatant partisanship and cynicism happen.
Democrats, in anticipation of another Supreme Court fight to prevent Trump from filling the seat left vacant after Ginsburg’s death, recently introduced a bill to limit Supreme Court terms to 18 years instead of the current lifetime appointments.