After months of stalemated negotiations over a second round of COVID-19 relief spending, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is now abandoning her earlier refusal to compromise with her approval of a trimmed-down package with bipartisan support.
Pelosi admitted on Friday that her prior decision to play hardball on the matter “was not a mistake” but a purposeful “decision,” bolstering speculation that she had engaged in partisan gamesmanship ahead of the election in an effort to hurt President Donald Trump’s re-election chances.
“For a shorter period of time”
Her stunning acknowledgement came during a press conference on Friday during which she expressed support for a proposal tipping the scales north of $900 billion.
The speaker had previously insisted on $2.2 trillion or more in a package, flatly rejecting efforts to compromise with bills ranging from $1.5 trillion to $1.8 trillion.
In attempting to explain her apparent reversal, Pelosi said: “It’s for a shorter period of time, but that’s OK now because we have a new president — a president who recognizes that we need to depend on science to stop the virus.”
One reporter referenced her previous remarks about refusing “to accept half a loaf,” prompting a discourteous reaction.
“I’m going to tell you something,” Pelosi shot back. “Don’t characterize what we did as a mistake, as a preface to your question, if you want an answer.”
“Very proud of where we are”
She went on to elaborate, asserting that it “was a decision, and it has taken us to a place where we can do the right thing without other, shall we say, considerations in the legislation that we don’t want.”
Attempting to justify her current position, Pelosi claimed to be “very proud of where we are,” proceeding to accuse the GOP of having included unrelated provisions in earlier proposals as a stumbling block to meaningful compromise.
In a joint statement, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) defended the bipartisan relief package.
“While we made a new offer to Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy on Monday, in the spirit of compromise we believe the bipartisan framework introduced by Senators yesterday should be used as the basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations,” they wrote.
For his part, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has spoken out against the proposal, denouncing it as too costly.