House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) lashed out at a reporter Friday when he asked her if it was a “mistake” waiting so long agreeing on a smaller coronavirus relief package after insisting for months that she was uninterested in a watered-down deal.
“I’m going to tell you something — don’t characterize what we did before as a mistake as a preface to your question if you want an answer,” Pelosi snapped at CNN reporter Manu Raju after he asked if it was a “mistake” waiting months and not wanting to “accept half a loaf.”
“That was not a mistake, it was a decision and it has taken us to a place where we can do the right thing without other, shall we say, considerations in the legislation that we don’t want. Now, that is it. Now the fact is, I’m very proud of where we are.”
Pelosi was opposed to any relief bill below her asking price of $2.2 trillion prior to Election Day. The $2.2 trillion from Pelosi included a large array of benefits and programs including bailout for Democrat-led states as well as adding illegal immigrants to receive a stimulus check.
However, the California Democrat is backing off her “negotiations position” and endorsing the latest proposal with a price tag of $908 billion, because of “a new president and a vaccine” in which she called a “total game-changer.”
“Joe Biden committed to ending and crushing the virus,” Pelosi said. “That is a total game-changer. A new president, and a vaccine.”
She emphasized her acceptance of the proposal was due to President-elect Joe Biden having a plan to address the virus, but noted “it’s not everything we want” and Democrats will likely push for more aid when Biden takes office on Jan. 20.
“It’s for a shorter period of time, but that’s OK now because we have a new president,” she said defending her position.
Biden endorsed the bipartisan framework, calling it a “good start.”
The House Speaker believes the plan once written “could be a basis for real bicameral negotiation.”
“There is momentum,” Pelosi said regarding the negotiations. “I told members, I’m not bringing any more bills that are not bipartisan.”
On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled a $908 billion four-month proposal that would extend unemployment benefits, offer loans to small businesses, and provide funding to cash-strapped states and localities. The proposal would provide state and local governments facing a cash crunch due to declining revenues with $160 billion and small businesses with $288 billion, including through the Paycheck Protection Program. It also allocates $82 billion for education and $16 billion for vaccine development and distribution, as well as testing and contact tracing.
Without such a deal, benefits for about 12 million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits after Christmas if Congress fails to extend provisions passed earlier this year. More than 20 million people are receiving some form of unemployment insurance as the economy struggles during the outbreak. Protections from eviction and a federal student loan payment moratorium are also set to expire at the end of the year.
Pelosi claims that the House “have the time” to create an omnibus and a coronavirus relief plan, despite the fact the deadline only has until next week, Dec. 11 for a comprehensive omnibus spending package to have it signed into law and avoid a government shutdown.
“We’ll take the time we need and we must get it done,” Pelosi said, insisting to reporters that the truncated timeline is not an obstacle.
“As they work on the text, we hope that it will take us very close to something we can put into the omnibus,” she said. “That is the vehicle leaving the station.”
Earlier on Friday, it was reported that the U.S. only added less than a quarter of a million new jobs — the slowest pace of monthly job growth since April, and weaker than expected expectations of 440,000. Payroll gains last month was a sharp drop from the 610,000 jobs added in October and 710,000 in September.
Manufacturing and construction each added 27,000 jobs last month. The retail sector lost 34,000 jobs, offset by a gain of 145,000 jobs in transportation and warehousing, driven by a shift to e-commerce.