President Donald Trump has often called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) the leader of the “Do-Nothing Democrats” in Congress — and in the era of COVID-19, Pelosi is certainly falling right into that characterization.
In recent weeks, the House speaker and her fellow Dems have repeatedly stalled on and rejected offers from the White House and Republicans to extend coronavirus-related relief, including unemployment benefits — and Reuters reported Saturday that those in Washington aren’t even close to a deal.
As Reuters noted, Democrats and Republicans had focused the last week on negotiations to extend “the $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits that Americans who lost jobs due to the pandemic have been receiving in addition to state jobless payments,” but they fell short — and the benefits expired on Friday.
Now, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pointing fingers and assigning blame. But it was Pelosi who wasn’t willing to budge.
Pelosi says no
Indeed, several offers were made by the GOP to extend unemployment benefits on a short-term basis while negotiations on a larger package continued, but Pelosi and Dems said no. It wasn’t enough, in their eyes, to continue the $600 payments for another week or two pending a more permanent solution, nor did the Dems accept a plan from Republicans that would have reduced benefits to $400 per week, but extended them for another four months.
Republicans have also put up a long-term proposal that would reduce federal benefits to $200 per week “until states create a system to provide a 70% wage replacement for laid-off workers,” Reuters notes.
But Pelosi isn’t having it. And in appearance with ABC’s Martha Raddatz on Sunday’s episode of This Week, the House speaker blamed Trump for failing to offer an adequate deal.
“He’s the one who’s standing in the way of that. We’ve been for the $600,” Pelosi said, according to ABC 13. “They have a $200 proposal, which doesn’t meet the needs of America’s working families, and it’s a condescension, quite frankly, because they’re saying, ‘They really don’t need it. They’re just staying home because they make more money at $600.'”
The blame game
The White House feels differently, however. Reacting to Pelosi’s interview, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who has been a lead representative for the White House in relief negotiations, expressed surprise that Democrats were unmoveable on the issue and were instead insistent on focusing on the larger legislative package — at the expense of unemployed workers.
“We proposed a one-week extension at $600 so that while we negotiate a longer-term solution, at least all these people don’t lose their money, and I’m surprised that the Democrats won’t agree to that,” he said, according to ABC 13. “They are insistent on having this as part of a larger deal.”
Dems’ stalling also prompted heavy criticism from the commander-in-chief himself.
Pelosi & Schumer blocked desperately needed unemployment payments, which is so terrible, especially since they fully understand that it was not the workers fault that they are unemployed, it’s the fault of China!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2020