Republicans and Democrats were unable to reach a deal last week on continued coronavirus-related relief, with one of the consequences being that those who are unemployed will no longer receive an extra benefit of $600 per week.
President Donald Trump responded with a series of executive orders on Saturday addressing issues including student loans, unemployment benefits, evictions, and payroll taxes, a decision which clearly caught House Speaker Nancy Pelosi off guard and left her struggling to defend congressional inaction, as the Washington Free Beacon reported.
“I’m not negotiating right here”
Pelosi’s discomfort with the situation became apparent during an interview with CNN contributor Dana Bash on Sunday when she was asked whether she would be willing to compromise on the level of coronavirus-related unemployment benefits.
“You’re standing firm on that number, on that $600,” Bash noted. “Why are you insisting on that as opposed to having a compromise with the Republicans so that people out there who are hungry, who desperately need that money could get something rather than nothing which is what they have now?”
When the House speaker responded that Republicans were only offering $200, Bash pointed out that Democrats could consider accepting $400–a suggestion that Pelosi didn’t seem to appreciate.
“I’m not negotiating that right here,” the longtime San Francisco Democrat insisted to Bash, adding, “It depends on what else is in the bill.”
Bash followed up by asking, “Are Republicans right when they say you will not come off of your $600 number—you will not come off of other figures, other policy initiatives that you want—and that’s why you’re at a stalemate?”
Pelosi denied that was the case, claiming instead, “We’re at a stalemate because the Republicans from the start never understood the gravity of the situation that we are in.”
“Didn’t you mess this one up?”
Pelosi’s interview with Bash wasn’t the only occasion on Sunday in which the speaker had her decisions called into serious question, as she also had a tense exchange with Fox News personality Chris Wallace.
“Speaker, I understand that the president’s executive action doesn’t do all the things you want, but having no bill at all, not coming to any agreement wasn’t going to provide any of the things you want either,” he stated, adding:
You’re known as a master negotiator, but didn’t you mess this one up? Because there’s no deal at all, cities and states won’t get any money.
Pelosi shot back, “Well, clearly, you don’t have an understanding of what is happening here, both in the weakness of the president’s executive orders, which don’t give the money and enhanced benefit, but puts a complicated formula there, which will take a while, if at all, to accomplish, to put money in the pockets of the American people.”
As President Trump’s executive order masterstroke laid bare for all to see, when it comes to actually taking steps to help financially strapped Americans, it seems to be Pelosi who doesn’t have a grasp of what is happening.