House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday she’s willing to delay or scrap House lawmakers’ summer break to negotiate additional economic relief for Americans suffering from the coronavirus pandemic.
Asked on CNN’s “Newsroom” if she would forgo or delay August recess in order to reach a deal to extend benefits, Pelosi replied, “Oh we absolutely have to. We also have to come to an agreement.”
“The timetable is the timetable of the American people needing their unemployment insurance, their direct payments, their assistance for rent and mortgage…forbearance,” the Democratic leader told CNN’s Jim Sciutto. “We need it for states and localities to be able to pay their employees who are meeting the needs of their constituents.”
She called for the passage of the HEROES Act, which the House approved in May, and for President Donald Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to compel businesses to produce protective gear and testing supplies.
The $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill – which reflects Democratic priorities and was not a product of bipartisan negotiations – includes more funding for state and local governments, coronavirus testing, a new round of direct payments to Americans, and an extension of the $600 unemployment insurance provision set to expire this month.
Republicans have rejected the legislation as too costly given that many states have not exhausted their existing emergency aid. They’ve also warned that an extension of unemployment insurance could be a disincentive for people seeking work.
Senate Republicans are instead crafting a proposal with the White House that is about one-third the size of the Democrats’ bill and is expected to include financial incentives to push schools to reopen, CNN reported Monday.
They plan to formally unveil their Republican proposal as soon as next week.
Many on Capitol Hill are skeptical that a recovery package can be agreed upon with the number of days dwindling before the August recess, given that the two sides differ greatly on what they believe is needed for the economy and policy details.
In Kentucky on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said bipartisan talks would begin next week. But the Republican leader made clear that “no bill will pass the Senate” without liability protection to shield health care workers and companies against lawsuits.
Pelosi on Tuesday appeared to suggest that Democrats won’t budge.
“I think a better path would be for them to join us in a strong (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) provision that’s in the Heroes Act,” Pelosi told CNN’s Sciutto.
This story has been updated.
CNN’s Manu Raju, Haley Byrd and Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.