House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused PBS News Hour anchor Judy Woodruff of running cover for congressional Republicans after Woodruff challenged the Democratic leader’s narrative the latest coronavirus relief talks.
“The other point Republicans are making,” Woodruff says midway through the interview, “is they are now showing flexibility in money for state and local governments. This is, again, a difference; Democrats want more money, Republicans want a lot less. They are saying they are willing to show flexibility, and they are also saying that a lot of money that was passed in the spring, Madam Speaker, has not even been spent yet.”
Pelosi interrupted Woodruff to accuse her of advocating for the GOP.
“Well, if you want to be an advocate for them, Judy, if you want to be an advocate for them, let’s know what the facts are.”
Woodruff responded that she is playing “devil’s advocate” to challenge the speaker.
“No, you aren’t,” Pelosi shot back. “The point is we have a bill that meets the needs of the American people. It’s called the HEROES Act. They don’t even want to do state and local, and when they do, it’s very meager and they want to revert to money from before. Much of the money that was allocated before has been spent or allocated. A small amount has not because they want to see what we’re doing in this bill.”
“We have $915 billion for states, localities, counties, and the rest, tribal governments, and territories. They have very little money that they are offering. When we have a chance and when we are allowed to show you what the different numbers are, our record is clear,” Pelosi continued. “We will find our common ground, but I don’t think in any way as a legislator that what they are proposing has any recognition of what is happening to the lives, the livelihood, and the life of our democracy.”
Talks between Democrats and Republicans over a fifth coronavirus aid bill have stalled on Capitol Hill. Republicans introductory proposal featured an additional $1 trillion in spending that included another one-time check of $1,200 for a majority of Americans as well as an extension and gradual phase-out of boosted unemployment benefits.
A federal $600/week supplement to unemployment benefits approved in the spring phased out on Friday, placing additional pressure on lawmakers who generally agree the program should be extended, but disagree on how much.
Under the Republican plan, the original $600/week in additional unemployment benefits would be lowered to $200 and extended through September, then drop to make up 70% of whatever the worker was making while employed. Republicans say that the $600 supplemental unemployment benefits have caused many workers to resist returning to work as they are making more on unemployment.
Under the Democratic plan, the $600/week supplement would be extended through January. Senate Democrats have also floated legislation that would tie supplemental unemployment insurance to decreases in the unemployment rate. The initial Democratic plan, being spearheaded by Pelosi in the House, had a total price tag three times larger than the GOP plan at $3.5 trillion. It featured bailouts for state and local governments, as well as billions of dollars for the Post Office and for food assistance.
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