House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continued to push Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass the HEROES Act during a weekly news conference where she also addressed news of the promising vaccines, and she accused members of the Trump administration of sabotaging the economy for the next administration by redistributing billions of dollars in funding.
The HEROES Act, which originally cost $3.4 trillion and was updated to cost $2.2 trillion, has been on McConnell’s desk since the Democrat-controlled House passed the bill in May. McConnell’s “skinny bill,” which would cost only $500 billion, was criticized by Pelosi as inadequate and blocked by Senate Democrats months ago. This price tag remains one of several points of contention between the two sides on a stimulus package. You can read more about the bills being negotiated here.
However, during the press conference, Pelosi said she believes a bipartisan coronavirus measure will take place, and called on McConnell to cooperate in renewed negotiations.
Pelosi Says, ‘The Time to Act Is Upon Us Like Never Before’
During her weekly press conference, Pelosi reiterated the harrowing number of deaths that have been attributed to the coronavirus — more than 250,000 — and blamed the worsening economic situation on McConnell’s refusal to pass the HEROES Act.
“What is becoming clear to all Americans is that we cannot achieve real economic recovery until we address the expanding public health crisis,” she said. “The time to act is upon us like never before. The pandemic and economic recession will not end without our help.”
However, Pelosi said she believes bipartisan legislation will be passed soon.
“I’m optimistic that we will have bipartisanship to put something together to go forward because I do believe that many of our colleagues understand what’s happening in their districts and to want to make a difference,” Pelosi said. “There’s just one big obstacle in the way, in the Senate, it’s Mitch McConnell.”
Pelosi also expressed a desire to extend CARES Act provisions set to expire at the end of the year, such as those protecting people from eviction:
17 million children in America are food insecure. And we have a hard time getting them to address those food needs into legislation … Again, let’s have help with rental assistance. Ok, have a moratorium, but unless the rent is paid, people are not going to being able to stay in their homes and the landlords aren’t going to pay the bank.
It has become clear in the last six months to have more PPE, fund small businesses. We have tightened our belt a number of times in the HEROES Act and months ago to include PPE. The list goes on and on, but some of these things about unemployment insurance, food security, stopping evictions, PPE, (keeping) our small businesses thriving. And they have refused.
“All we had to do is follow the science. We know how we can open our economy, open our schools safely, but we have to make a decision to follow science and good governance,” Pelosi added.
In light of news that two coronavirus vaccines have been shown to be 95% effective, Pelosi urged Trump to mobilize the Defense Production Act to ensure that production and distribution mechanisms will be able to get those vaccines to Americans as soon as possible.
“It’s imminent that we should be having the resources to make sure that the vaccine is distributed immediately, equitably so that everyone has access to it,” Pelosi said. “For that to happen, the president must — must — implement the defense production act so that those companies, those entities that are used to this new technology, both Pfizer and Moderna, can undertake making this vaccine more available because we are going to need quite a bit for ourselves and for the world.”
Americans, Republicans & Even Some Dems Have Grown Tired of the Gridlock
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that Pelosi was the main obstacle to coronavirus relief, according to Newsweek.
Even some Democrats have criticized Pelosi’s strong stance against passing a cheaper bill. Democratic New Jersey Representative Josh Gottheimer said that Pelosi should have accepted the $1.9 million deal offered by the White House. “We should’ve taken the deal. We should’ve done the deal, 100% we should have. I said it at the time,” Gottheimer said in an interview with Newsweek. “It’s outrageous that we didn’t. I think it was really foolish… I wish we could get that deal today.”
Stephanie Murphy, a Democratic representative for Florida agreed, telling Newsweek, “They should have had a deal.” New Jersey Democrat Tom Malinowski said it would have been wise for Democrats to “get the dang money,” wait until President-elect Joe Biden took office, and then spend the funds where needed.
Former presidential candidate and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar expressed more optimism that a deal could get done. “The good news I have is that the negotiations have started up again. I have been part of some of them, and I think we’re going to pass something in the next few weeks,” Klobuchar told local NBC affiliate KARE-11.
However, there is no evidence that either side plans to back down from their positions, with McConnell referring to the HEROES Act as “unserious” and Pelosi blaming the anticipated financial crises after CARES Act benefits expire on McConnell’s infamous call for “a pause.”
After a Recent Treasury Secretary Decision, Democrats Are Accusing the White House of Sabotaging Biden’s Ability to Rehabilitate the Economy
Making relations worse is the recent action taken by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to return $455 billion — out of the $500 billion allocated for emergency lending facilities — that remained unspent, according to CNBC. Mnuchin’s reasoning, as he gave in an interview with CNBC, was that he wanted to ensure markets were “comfortable” that the government had “plenty of capacity left.”
The move prompted backlash from multiple Democrats.
In a Thursday statement, House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters said, “It is clear that (President) Trump and Mnuchin are willing to spitefully destroy the economy and make it as difficult as possible for the incoming Biden Administration to turn this crisis around and lead the nation to a recovery.”
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown also repeated the accusation in his statement, in which he said, “There can be no doubt, the Trump administration and their congressional toadies are actively trying to tank the U.S. economy. With this action, there can now be no doubt: Steven Mnuchin will go down as the worst Treasury Secretary in our nation’s history.”
During her weekly press conference, Pelosi called the move “another misguided act of responsibility” and accused Mnuchin and the Trump administration of wanting to “impede the ability of the next administration to have everything available to them.”