Reporters were thrown off Thursday when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) forgot to talk into the phone during a virtual press conference, Breitbart reported.
The Democrat was addressing Congress’ work to overcome the coronavirus outbreak on a conference call when things took an awkward turn: Pelosi was drowned out by white noise. “I’m so sorry to interrupt ma’am, can you please speak into the phone? We’re having trouble hearing you,” someone said, according to Breitbart.
“Did you hear me?”
Pelosi opened the call by slamming Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) for pulling a “stunt” by pushing for an additional $250 billion to help small businesses recover from the pandemic knowing that Democrats would reject the proposal. The Democrats want to double what McConnell is offering, as well as impose stronger guarantees that businesses in minority neighborhoods won’t get shut out by lenders and provide billions more for hospitals and governments, according to the Associated Press.
But right as the Q&A started, Pelosi started to cut out while answering a question about whether Congress, currently out of session, would use remote voting to pass stimulus funding. The speaker’s voice awkwardly phased in and out behind sheets of white noise for about 90 seconds.
“The uh, again, we’re so consumed in addressing the tragedy that is befalling our country, the, um, chairman of the rules committee has been tasked…to what the options would be,” Pelosi started off, according to Breitbart. She continued:
There is a constitutional requirement that we vote in person. There are some [inaudible] challenges that would have to be overcome even to consider it, and there are security, serious security issues involving [inaudible] governed.
Several seconds of silence ensued, then Pelosi continued, “He also is considering [inaudible] proxy voting…precedent…committee voting…voting [inaudible] would require, a rules change…” Finally, Pelosi was interrupted and told to speak into the phone. “I’m sorry, oh,” the House speaker said. “Did you hear me talk about the challenges, constitutional security, and um, technological?”
“We need more oversight”
Congress has been out of session since passing the massive $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue bill on March 27, but Pelosi and her fellow Democrats have engaged in negotiations with Republicans and the White House over additional relief for Americans. Disagreements and partisan theater have continued to hobble those efforts, however.
On the call, Pelosi slammed McConnell for trying to pass the $250 billion for small businesses in just 48 hours, with little data. “Really?” Pelosi sneered. “No, we need more data. And we need more oversight.”
Pelosi also told CNBC Thursday that President Donald Trump must not open the country back up too soon, even as she acknowledged that the country could be heading toward a depression. President Trump, for his part, is hoping to start opening the economy back up as soon as May, according to The Hill, as Trump and some of his top officials have begun to express cautious optimism about overcoming the virus.
Pelosi still obstructing
In the meantime, Pelosi is eager to work on a fourth stimulus package with Republicans, which she estimates could cost another $1 trillion, but Trump actually wants $2 trillion. The Democrat has backtracked from an initial focus on infrastructure, Fox Business notes, and is now calling for an expansion of benefits from the CARES Act, like direct cash payments for Americans. Some 16 million Americans have filed for unemployment in just weeks.
Despite Pelosi’s tone of urgency, she told Politico that the House may not return on April 20 as planned. With Congress out of session, lawmakers are looking at taking votes by unanimous consent, which is procedurally easier than taking roll call votes, but Pelosi told the press Thursday that the House “simply can’t” pass McConnell’s proposal by unanimous consent. She also said that it’s “not that easy” to implement constitutionally dubious remote voting, according to the Hill.
The speaker has continued to feud with the president, as well, telling Politico Thursday that she doesn’t “have time” to watch his daily updates on the COVID-19 pandemic. It doesn’t seem that Pelosi values reporters’ time either.