At her weekly press conference on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended her support of a stimulus package half the size of what the Trump administration offered in October. She cited the “game changer” of Joe Biden’s election as the 46th president as well as the positive vaccine developments in her backing of the $908 billion relief bill proposed earlier this week.
The California Democrat argued her previous insistence for a broad spending package of at least $2.2 trillion was producing results.
“It was not a mistake. It was a decision that has taken us to a place where we can do the right things without other, shall we say, considerations in the legislation that we don’t want,” she said, adding, “I’m very proud of where we are.”
—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 4, 2020
Asked about her support of the latest compromise package, Pelosi responded: “A vaccine, an answer to our prayers with 95% effectiveness with Pfizer and Moderna, and there may be others coming forward. That is a total game changer: a new president and a vaccine.”
Pelosi’s remarks illustrate the sharp change in her position from earlier this fall. For months, she negotiated a sizable rescue package with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, with the White House ultimately offering a $1.8 trillion stimulus plan in early October. But she rejected it, citing an array of policy disagreements that neither side ever resolved.
Some House Democrats called on her to strike a deal before the election, but Pelosi said the administration was putting forward only “half a loaf” that was inadequate to address the health and economic crises. She also had a contentious interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on her dismissal of the administration’s offer in mid-October.
President Donald Trump strongly supported a large plan immediately leading up to the November 3 election, though his views veered wildly at the time. Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell, though, would have been unlikely to support a package with the price tag nearing $2 trillion. The negotiations between Pelosi and the White House ultimately went nowhere this fall.
The latest compromise relief plan contains funding for $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits, small-business aid, and more funds for public-health systems and vaccines. It represents a significant reduction of the multitrillion-dollar package that Democrats had pushed for the past six months.
Congressional Democrats embraced the framework on Wednesday, saying it should be the starting point in negotiations with Republicans after months of gridlock. Though McConnell favors a slimmer rescue plan, some GOP senators have lined up behind the compromise proposal.
The plan lacks legislative text, which is expected early next week. Meanwhile, Biden supports it, though he maintains that he will seek more federal aid after being sworn in on January 20.
“Any package passed in the lame duck session is not enough,” he said in a statement released on Friday. “It’s just the start. Congress will need to act again in January.”
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