Pelosi Defends Rejecting White House’s Stimulus Proposal in Heated Exchange

October 14, 2020 Updated: October 14, 2020

In a heated exchange that saw House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) insult a cable television host, the top Democrat on Tuesday night defended her decision not to accept the latest stimulus proposal from the White House.

CNN host Wolf Blitzer noted that some Democrats, including Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), criticized Pelosi for the rejection.

“Let me just quote Ro Khanna, a man you know well. I assume you admire him. He’s a Democrat. He just said this, he said, ‘People in need can’t wait until February. $1.8 trillion is significant and more than twice Obama stimulus … Make a deal, and put the ball in McConnell’s court.’ So what do you say to Ro Khanna?” Blitzer asked during an exchange on CNN’s “Situation Room.”

“What I say to you is, I don’t know if you’re always an apologists [sic], and many of your colleagues apologists, for the Republican position. Ro Khanna, that’s nice. That isn’t what we’re going to do, and nobody is waiting until February. I want this very much now, because people need help now,” Pelosi responded.

When she later said, “I will not let the wrong be the enemy of the right,” Blitzer wondered, “What is wrong with $1.8 trillion?”

“You know what? Do you have any idea what the difference is between the spending they have in their bill and that we have in our bill?” Pelosi shot back.

Rep. Ro Khanna
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) speaks during a press conference at Capitol Hill in Washington on April 4, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Blitzer brought up how former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang also called on the speaker to accept the latest proposal. Pelosi, frustrated, said: “OK you know what? Honest to God. You really—I can’t get over it because Andrew Yang, he’s lovely. Ro Khanna, he’s lovely. But they are not negotiating this situation. They have no idea of the particulars. They have no idea of what the language is here.”

“What makes me amused, if it weren’t so sad, is how you all think that you know more about the suffering of the American people than those of us who are elected by them to represent them at that table,” she added later.

“With all due respect, you really don’t know what you’re talking about,” she told Blitzer.

Blizter at one point attempted to end the segment, but Pelosi continued talking.

“No, we will leave it on the note that you are not right on this, Wolf, and I hate to say that to you. But I feel confident about it and I feel confident about my colleagues and I feel confidence in my chairs,” she asserted.

The White House last week unveiled the $1.8 trillion stimulus package, moving closer to halfway between where Republicans ($1 trillion) and Democrats ($3 trillion) started.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin departs
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin departs from the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Sept. 30, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Pelosi swiftly rejected the relief offer, arguing it did not provide enough funding to testing, worker safety, and child care.

The House passed a $2.2 trillion relief package earlier this month, but that was deemed a non-starter by the White House.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany pointed to the bill including direct payments to illegal immigrants as an example of why the Trump administration didn’t accept the proposal.

President Donald Trump briefly cut off negotiations last week before revealing the $1.8 trillion offer. Trump on Monday called on Congress to work on the stimulus package instead of devoting too much time to the Supreme Court nomination hearings. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told lawmakers in a letter that day that the lack of action on pandemic relief was “due to the Trump administration’s failure.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday that the Senate would take up a GOP relief bill that comes in around $500 billion when it returns to Washington on Oct. 19.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report. 

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