House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing some pushback among some Democrats after sharply rejecting the White House‘s latest — and most expensive — $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief offer over the weekend.
“Nancy Pelosi take this deal!” Andrew Yang, a former Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted on Saturday. “Put politics aside people are hurting.”
The Trump administration’s proposal — which came just a few days after the president abruptly called off negotiations before reversing course and pushing for a bipartisan agreement — drew criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, dimming the odds of another round of emergency aid before the Nov. 3 election.
In a weekly letter to Democratic colleagues, Pelosi said the administration’s proposal lacked a “strategic plan to crush the virus” and gave President Trump too much power in determining how the funds were spent.
“This proposal amounted to one step forward, two steps back,” Pelosi said in the letter.
The plan was expected to include a fresh round of $1,200 stimulus checks; expanded unemployment benefits at $400 per week and additional funding for state and local governments.
“While there are potential risks, Democrats should aggressively pursue a COVID Relief deal with Trump,” tweeted Dan Pfeiffer, the co-host of the left-leaning podcast “Pod Save America. “It’s the right thing to do, but the politics can also work in our favor.”
That sentiment was echoed by Rep. Ro Khanna.
“People in need can’t wait until February,” the California Democrat wrote, adding: “1.8 trillion is significant & more than twice Obama stimulus. It will allow Biden to start with infrastructure. Obama won in 08 by doing the right thing on TARP instead of what was expedient. Make a deal & put the ball in McConnell court.”
Senate Republicans also rejected the proposal for a big spending bill before the election during a conference call Saturday with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“There’s no appetite right now to spend the White House number or the House number,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., two sources briefed on the call told Politico.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., meanwhile warned that accepting a bill with Pelosi’s support would amount to a “death knell” for Republican efforts trying to maintain majority control fo the Senate and would “deflate” the party’s base.
For months, Congress has struggled to reach an agreement on additional stimulus. Negotiations first collapsed in early August, prompting Trump to sign four executive measures intended to provide relief to families still reeling from the virus-induced crisis, including temporarily extending supplemental jobless aid at $300 a week.
But that aid is beginning to expire, and lifelines that propped up the economy in the early weeks of the pandemic — like the $670 billion Paycheck Protection Program, a one-time $1,200 stimulus check and sweetened unemployment benefits — lapsed weeks ago.
Although Democrats and Republicans broadly agree that another bill is necessary to aid the economy’s recovery, they sharply disagree over the size and scope of it.
“The president wants to do a deal,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said during an interview with FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on Friday.
Any bill still needs to get through the Democratic-controlled House and the GOP-controlled Senate, where some Republicans have expressed concern about another massive spending initiative amid the nation’s ballooning deficit, which is projected to hit a record-shattering $3.3 trillion this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.