Pelosi digs as pressure mounts for COVID-19 deal

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden travels to Michigan to promote agenda amid internal Democratic feuds Schumer sets one-month goal to pass two Christie spending bills: 2020 Joe Biden “is now officially dead and buried.” MORE (D-Calif.) Stands firm on Democrats’ demands for broad COVID-19 relief, ignoring mounting pressure from Republicans in the Senate and a small but vocal group of moderate lawmakers in his caucus to pass a bill thinner.

His strategy carries risks, just weeks before Election Day, if voters see House Democrats as the main obstacle to yet another round of coronavirus aid, especially after Senate Republicans rally 52 votes in favor of their lightened measure last week.

With that in mind, a growing number of moderate Democrats – including leaders of the Blue Dogs and the NDP coalition, as well as a number of frontline lawmakers facing tough re-elections – have pressed Pelosi and the Democratic leadership. organize a pre-election. vote on a version of emergency aid for states, households and small businesses struggling with the pandemic, even if the package doesn’t tick all the boxes on Pelosi’s wishlist.

“They are convinced that the leaders must negotiate a deal,” said a senior Democratic official associated with the moderate wing of the party. “A vote on something before the members return home,” the aide added, “would at least indicate Democrats are moving towards a negotiating position.”

Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) Noted that a long list of first-term Democrats came from “pretty fierce battles in pretty purple places” where voters expect Congress to meet on a deal. rescue.

“As a class we really want to make sure something is done before we go,” Houlahan said on a press call.

But with high unemployment, states struggling with tight budgets, and a potential deportation crisis looming, Pelosi has shown no indication that she is willing to abandon her insistence that all of these issues be addressed in the next coronavirus bill, despite dwindling prospects for a deal before November. 3.

Pelosi’s position may reflect his confidence that public opinion on the pandemic is against President TrumpDonald Trump Ambassador to Afghanistan on whether Afghans will trust an American president again.

A recent poll found that a whopping 65% of those polled disapprove of President Trump’s response to the pandemic, suggesting voters are prepared to blame the White House for inaction on the next relief bill. To drive the point home, Pelosi and the leader of the senatorial minority Charles SchumerChuck Schumer Struggling over Biden’s Agenda: A Tale of Two Democratic Parties Arizona Democrats’ frustration with Sinema climaxes Trump teases Schumer about occasional Ocasio-Cortez challenge MORE (DN.Y.) called the $ 484 billion GOP Senate bill “emaciated” and a “pathetic” attempt to resolve a six-month-old crisis that has ravaged the economy and killed nearly 200 000 people in the United States.

“We all want to have a deal, but it has to be real, and what the Senate did was not real. … Reaching an agreement is not, however, to say, “What can we do the least? “” Pelosi said Monday on MSNBC.

What the GOP has put forward, she said, “is an insult to the intelligence of the American people.”

House Democrats passed the HEROES Act in May, which would provide $ 3.4 trillion in relief, including about $ 1 trillion for cash-strapped cities, counties and states. But the majority leader in the Senate Mitch mcconnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell White House seeks to reverse agenda price debate Biden sees support for independents drop Hill’s morning report – Brought to you by Alibaba – Democrats still at odds on order of the day from Biden PLUS (R-Ky.) And Republicans dismissed the package as a liberal pipe dream.

Pelosi has since said Democrats could accept a $ 2.2 trillion package but not go lower.

One of the main sticking points is helping cities and states, which Democrats say is key to avoiding mass layoffs of police, firefighters and other public officials due to declining revenues. tax. The GOP proposal that hit the Senate last week had no money for state and local governments, or for rent assistance or food aid. Many Republicans point to a series of executive orders signed by Trump recently, saying the administration is taking action to address issues such as evictions.

Democrats’ legislation also provides for another round of $ 1,200 stimulus checks for most Americans, which is missing from the GOP bill even though Trump supports the idea.

Trump has taken a hands-off approach to the relief talks. He hasn’t spoken to Pelosi for almost a year and appealed to the Secretary of the Treasury Steven mnuchinSteven Mnuchin’s The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Alibaba – Biden embarks on frantic talks over Dem spending. and Chief of Staff of the White House Marc des meadowsThe Mark Meadows committee on January 6 subpoenaed witnesses: What happens when they don’t comply? January 6 subpoenas including Pierson and other organizers of Overnight Defense & National Security rallies – Brought to you by General AM – Senators slam Pentagon officials MORE to negotiate directly with the President. Democrats were quick to hammer Trump for being “missing in action” as the death toll from COVID-19 soars, noting that the president has golfed nearly 30 times at his private resorts in Virginia, in New Jersey and Florida since declaring a national emergency coronavirus on March 13.

“Nearly 200,000 Americans have died, 14 million are out of work, thousands are evicted from their homes every day. And Republicans play golf, ”said a source in the Democratic House leadership. “Democrats have acted for the people while Republicans have worked – and failed – to perfect their short game in their private golf clubs. Sad.”

While a large majority of Democrats appear to support Pelosi’s hard-line approach to talks, cracks are starting to appear as the House returns to Washington this week after a long summer hiatus.

During a caucus call last week, Rep. Derek kilmerDerek Christian Kilmer Progressives applaud, moderates moan as Biden visit crowns chaotic week (D-Wash.), Leader of the New Democrats, insisted on the urgency of reaching a deal to hold members accountable when they return home before the election. Pelosi responded by warning his troops not to be “a cheap date.”

Subsequently, a number of lawmakers texted Kilmer to express support for his message, according to a person familiar with the discussion. Yet Kilmer stressed on Monday that he was not calling for a “skinny” substitute for the HEROES Act, stressing the importance of increased funding for housing, nutrition, postal service and unemployment benefits. But speaking on behalf of a growing number of moderates, he also warned against leaving Washington empty-handed.

“What I and other members of the New Dem are hearing is that our constituents are suffering, and we have a sense of urgency to continue fighting to resolve these issues,” Kilmer said in an email.

Amid the standoff that has lasted for weeks, Senate Republicans are hopeful that such pressure on Pelosi from within his own ranks will force the president to agree to a thinner relief plan.

Yet in a liberal caucus, with Democrats struggling to rally their progressive base ahead of the election, some observers are predicting Pelosi’s hardline will prevail.

“Some of the problem solvers and Frontliners are panicking, but not enough,” a former Democratic leadership aide said in an email Monday. “Interested to see if members are under pressure to return home. This will be the X factor.

“I think she won’t budge,” the source added.