Pelosi says Congress will stay in Washington until COVID deal is reached
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday that she plans to keep House members in Washington until they reach a deal on a new coronavirus relief bill. Congress has been in a stalemate since May when Senate Republicans refused to take up a $3 trillion bill from House Democrats.
“I just got off a call with my colleagues. We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement, an agreement that meets the needs of the American people,” Pelosi said. “We’re optimistic that the White House at least will understand that we have to do some things.”
Senate Republicans have tried to pass a scaled-back relief bill. Earlier this summer they failed to get enough support from their own party to pass a $1 trillion proposal. Last week, they brought forward a $300 billion bill that would address the most pressing issues facing Americans but it was blocked by Senate Democrats.
“The cynical Republican COVID bill was emaciated, inadequate and designed to fail,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “Americans need help now, and Congress needs to respond in a way that meets the nation’s very real and urgent needs.”
Democrats are trying to get Republicans to meet them in the middle with a $2 trillion bill but Republicans say that’s not going to happen and that they have no intention of passing another multitrillion bill after already passing the CARES Act this year at a $2.2 trillion price tag.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Pelosi and Democrats of putting their personal wish list ahead of actually passing a meaningful bill.
“In July, when Senate Republicans put forward a serious offer, Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leader said they would not even talk unless we started with that unserious bill. No help for families unless they got to pass the absurd bill their own Democratic members had ridiculed,” McConnell said.
“So, in August, Republicans tried something else. We proposed breaking off some of the most urgent, most bipartisan policies and agreeing wherever we could … But Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leader blocked that too,” McConnell added.
Some Democrats may be willing to come to the table soon as they continue to face pressure from voters back home. Members are usually in their districts in the fall preparing for the November election but are being forced to give up campaign time in order to be gridlocked in D.C.
There are several Democrat members who represent swing districts that may find it difficult to explain to their independent voters why they’ve been unable to provide them with much-needed relief since May.
Per usual in Washington, most of the deal-making will only involve leadership so despite Pelosi saying Congress will remain in session, most rank and file members will still be able to get out of town to hit the campaign trail.
PHOTO: Getty Images
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