Americans have been waiting since the end of last month for new legislation that would provide coronavirus-related relief. But Democrats and Republicans in Congress still have been unable to reach an agreement on a new bill.
On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) spoke via telephone with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, a conversation that was reportedly unproductive. Following their exchange, the 80-year-old California Democrat released a letter that at times seemed almost unhinged, ending any hopes that she might be ready to compromise with Republicans.
“As the virus and the accompanying economic crisis devastate lives and livelihoods, Senate Republicans and the White House continue to display their contempt for science and their contempt for state and local government,” The Hill quoted Pelosi as complaining.
“Yesterday, when I spoke with the White House, they made clear that they still do not comprehend the needs of the American people as lives and livelihoods are overwhelmed by the virus and its economic consequences,” she continued.
Pelosi won’t consider less than $2.2 trillion
“Over a month ago, House and Senate Democrats said that we would be willing to cut a trillion dollars from the Heroes Act if the White House would add one trillion to the Senate bill.”
“In consultation with our Committees Chairs, we have now said we would be willing to go down to $2.2 trillion,” the senior Democrat stated. “These investments are needed both to save lives and to boost the economy.”
“The Democrats are unified, but the Republicans are in disarray,” she alleged. “Press reports are stating that [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-KY] has come down to $500 billion in his proposal and that Mark Meadows is saying that the White House might go to $1.3 trillion.”
However, Pelosi asserted that “[n]either of these proposals would meet the needs of American workers and families” and professed to “have great concern over the Republicans’ refusal to acknowledge the funding levels that experts and scientists tell us are needed for safe school reopening.”
“They are also rejecting the funding needed for 14 million hungry children in America and rejecting funding for children’s families for rental assistance when millions are at risk of eviction and homelessness,” she wrote.
“This is a debate about values and common sense, not dollars and cents. We hope Republicans will come to the table and accept our lower offer to save the lives and livelihoods of the American people,” Pelosi concluded.
White House responds
The White House had a different story to tell. “I had a conversation with Speaker Pelosi. And even on her $2.2 trillion counter offer, she can’t tell the American people, nor me, what is in that,” Meadows said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.
“She puts forth a number, suggests that she came down, and yet she’s willing to turn down $1.3 trillion of help that goes to the American people because she would rather them have nothing than to give way on what … her fantasy objection might be,” he added.