‘There is no excuse’: Pelosi taking heat from fellow Dems over lack of covid relief
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s behavior in the battle to deliver COVID-19 relief to struggling American families has been bizarre, to say the least.
As the crisis worsened over the summer, she did an interview with CBS late-night host James Corden while standing in front of her $20,000 refrigerator and gushing over being able to savor $12-a-pint ice cream. In October, when an incredulous Wolf Blitzer of CNN – Wolf Blitzer! CNN! – asked why she would turn down President Donald Trump’s offer of $1.8 trillion for coronavirus aid when Americans were being evicted from their homes and queuing up in food lines, Pelosi scolded him as an “apologist” for the Republicans. Then this month, when Pelosi finally relented and appeared to agree to a $908 billion package, she said it was a “decision” to turn down GOP offers because, now, the election of Joe Biden as president was a “game-changer.”
Now, the pot appears to be getting smaller and one antsy Democrat is riding Pelosi to pull the trigger on a deal with Trump and congressional Republicans.
“There is no excuse for the speaker or the leader, you’ve got to give us a vote,” Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said at a press conference Monday in announcing a $748 billion plan.
A dozen moderates from both parties stood with Durbin to announce the deal, which according to Fox News includes money for education, vaccine distribution, transportation, small business relief and federal unemployment aid.
Durbin and his crew excised a $160 billion payment to aid state and local governments, which Republicans oppose. Durbin’s group said that will be dealt with in a separate vote, as will be a GOP provision to protect employers from being sued by workers who contract COVID, which Democrats oppose.
“This is our consensus bill,” Durbin added. “We all agree on it. It’s ready to go.”
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., added, “We cannot afford to wait any longer to act. This should not be Congress’s last COVID relief bill, but it is a strong compromise that deserves support from both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. We cannot leave for the holidays without getting relief to those Americans who need it.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., while on CNN after the press conference, noted, “We’ve got to get people a lifeline. It will pass – the $748 (billion).”
Some top Republicans agreed, saying the slimmer, revised version could pass muster with the Republican ranks.
“It’s getting close. It includes a lot of things in our package and number-wise it’s less than what it was last week,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune told Politico. “It’s trending in the right direction.”
Pelosi, however, is widely perceived as the obstacle for her persistence in wanting to bail out fiscally mismanaged blue states.
But she may not be able to hold out much longer.
Last week a Newsweek “fact check” gave a “mostly true” to Republican claims that Democrats have blocked COVID aid more than three dozen times.
Senate Democrats have blocked coronavirus aid and House Democrats have blocked Republican efforts to re-open the Paycheck Protection Program 40 times.https://t.co/goCPOOpyjp
— GOP (@GOP) December 1, 2020
“It’s not as straightforward as Democrats voting against the bill,” Newsweek said, but “technically speaking, Republicans have tried more than 40 times to bring another round of relief to businesses and workers” – and gotten nowhere.