WASHINGTON – Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the House will remain in session until lawmakers deliver another round of COVID-19 relief.
“We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement, an agreement that meets the needs of the American people,” Pelosi said on CNBC.
Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues on a morning conference call that “we have to stay here until we have a bill.” That's according to a Democratic aide speaking on condition of anonymity but authorized to quote her remarks.
The move highlighted the extent to which coronavirus legislation has settled into a kind of suspended animation in the final legislative weeks before the November election. Both parties insist they want action, keeping the idea of new relief alive, but negotiations between Democrats and the White House remain frozen, with both sides entrenched in their positions.
Pelosi's comments came as moderate Democrats, many from areas won by President Donald Trump four years ago, signed on to a $1.5 trillion rescue package endorsed by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of about 50 lawmakers who seek common solutions to issues.
The plan contains many elements of COVID rescue packages devised by House Democrats and Republicans controlling the Senate, including aid to schools, funding for state and local governments, and renewal of lapsed COVID-related jobless benefits.
The price tag is significantly less than the $2.2 trillion figure cited by Pelosi, but it's also well above an approximately $650 billion Senate GOP plan that failed last week due to Democratic opposition.
Talks between Pelosi and the Trump administration broke down last month and there had been little optimism they would rekindle before Election Day. And last week, Senate Democrats scuttled a scaled-back GOP coronavirus rescue package.
Trump denies he downplayed virus
PHILADELPHIA – President Donald Trump denied during a televised town hall Tuesday that he had played down the threat of the coronavirus this year, although there is an audio recording of him stating he did just that.
Trump participated in the event with uncommitted voters, hosted by ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, in a warmup of sorts two weeks before he faces Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the first presidential debate. Taped at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, it featured Trump taking questions from an audience of just 21 voters to comply with state and local coronavirus regulations.
In an exchange with one voter, Trump sought to counter his admission to journalist Bob Woodward that he was deliberately “playing it down” when discussing the threat of COVID-19 to Americans this year. Despite audio of his comments being released, Trump told the voter: “Yeah, well, I didn't downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action.”