While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) maintains that she is committed to providing Americans with vital benefits during the ongoing coronavirus public health crisis, she stood in opposition to a possible short-term extension of current unemployment benefits.
According to the Washington Times, she told reporters that she “would be very much averse to separating this out” instead of settling on a larger, more comprehensive relief bill.
“An unworthy question”
The reporter who asked the question posited such an extension as a stopgap measure until Democrats and Republicans can agree on the next coronavirus spending package.
“It’s a fraudulent tactic and with all due respect to you, an unworthy question when it comes to meeting the needs of America’s working families,” she responded.
Others in the press pool pushed for clarification, leading Pelosi to remove any doubt regarding her position.
“Do you understand no?” she shot back. “No. No.”
Instead, Pelosi and other House Democrats continue to push for a $3 trillion relief package, which would extend until January the availability of an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits.
“It has an integrity”
She is also not alone among her party’s leaders in speaking out against a possible extension to certain provisions in the current bill. Recent statements from U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin indicate the Trump administration is considering an extension to unemployment benefits, but it would be structured so Americans would not find it more lucrative to receive benefits than return to work.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) made essentially the same argument as Pelosi on Thursday, urging against efforts to “piecemeal” a plan while touting the Democratic-supported proposal.
“It has an integrity,” he said. “It has a oneness about meeting the needs of the American people, defeating the virus.”
As for the GOP, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is negotiating for a much leaner package with a cost of about $1 trillion. Even that amount is too steep for some fiscal conservatives in the party.
While there might be some room to meet in the middle, Pelosi and others in her party seem content to dig in on their all-or-nothing approach to massive federal spending in the name of coronavirus relief.