House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that she will not vote on a pandemic relief bill that has no bipartisan support.
“We could put a bill on the floor, but we want to put a bill on the floor that will become law,” Pelosi said in a morning interview.
Talks between Pelosi, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and the White House stalled in early August, with the two sides having differences over the overall price of the bill. Federal funding to state and local governments, as well as unemployment benefits, were the most contentious issues.
“We have a number of schools of thought: those who want us to put $3.4 trillion on the floor, then come down in negotiation from there. Those who say just put something on the floor,” she added in the interview. “But what we want is to put something on the floor that will become law. And so that requires negotiation.”
Pelosi was referring to the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act, which was passed in the Democratic-controlled House in May and authorized more than $900 billion in funds to state and local governments to offset economic damage done during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. Republicans, meanwhile, have sought a smaller bill, and they attempted to push through a sub-$1 billion deal last week but failed to garner enough support.
“We have come down,” Pelosi said of negotiation efforts to reduce the spending measure by about $1 trillion. “But the needs of the American people—we can only go so far.”
Pelosi said that since May, new provisions might have to be added to the HEROES Act.
“This has accelerated since then,” she said. “We have additional needs for restaurants, airlines and the rest, and those things have to be taken into consideration as well.”
Earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reiterated that both he and President Donald Trump favor more stimulus measures, saying that “now is not the time to worry about shrinking the deficit.” He was touching on fears voiced by some conservatives in the Senate and House over more spending.
“I think there’s many areas of this where is an agreement between the Democrats and the Republicans, and some of the areas we do have differences on the amounts,” he said in the interview. “But I will continue to work on this: I’ve told the speaker I’m available any time to negotiate.”
The talk comes as a bipartisan group in the House, known as the Problem Solvers Caucus, offered a $1.5 billion deal.
“The fact is, we all hear back home Americans simply can’t afford inaction,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), who is co-chair of the bipartisan group, in a statement. “The American people need the negotiators to get back to the table.”
However, top Democrats including Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said they will reject the measure.
“I think the Problem Solvers are lower than would be a responsible deal,” Hoyer said. “There are a lot of objectives that I think the Republicans have simply ignored. The Problem Solvers addressed some of them and I think that’s useful and we need to move forward with that in mind.”