House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats want to extend the federal $600 unemployment insurance provisions in the next stimulus bill, adding that she is not willing to negotiate on the amount.
“I think that the number, the $600, is related more to the unemployment rate. If the unemployment goes down, then that number can go down,” she said. “You’re not saying to the American people, ‘We have more infections, we have more deaths, we have more unemployment, we have more hunger, and now we’re going to cut your benefit.’ That’s just not going to happen.”
She criticized Republicans for pushing for cuts to the $600 amount in federal unemployment insurance.
“A building is on fire, and they’re deciding how much water they want to have in the bucket,” she said.
The federal unemployment benefits have lapsed for now even as unemployment in the US continues to remain high during the coronavirus pandemic. It can be revived through a new stimulus package but lawmakers and the White House are as far apart as they've ever been in talks on the next emergency aid package, sources say.
Pelosi said that it is “absolutely essential” to reach an agreement on additional coronavirus stimulus, ahead of a meeting between negotiators this afternoon.
Pelosi also said she doesn’t have confidence in Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House task force coordinator, because she hasn’t always challenged President Trump’s claims and public remarks about the virus.
“I don’t have confidence in anyone who stands there while the President says, ‘Swallow Lysol, it’s going to cure your virus,’” Pelosi said.
She said Birx “has enabled” falsehoods from the President.