WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the House will remain in session until lawmakers deliver another round of COVID-19 relief, a move that came as Democrats from swing districts signaled discontent with a standoff that could force them to face voters without delivering more aid.
“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.
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 both 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.
Pelosi has maintained a hard line in negotiations and has been at odds with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. She orchestrated passage of a $3.4 trillion COVID rescue package back in May, but the effort was immediately dismissed by Senate Republicans and the Trump administration.
Tuesday’s remarks, said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill, don’t mean that the speaker is adopting a more flexible position. She instead seems to be signaling continued determination to press ahead and won’t adjourn the House without an agreement with the administration.
Success is by no means guaranteed and many people on Capitol Hill remain very skeptical that an agreement between the White House and Democrats is likely before the election.
“My sense is the clock is running out,” said Senate GOP Whip John Thune of South Dakota. “I don’t see any intention or desire on the part of the Democrat leadership at the moment — regardless of what their members are saying — to cooperate and to work together on a solution. I think they feel like they’ve got the issue and they want to try and ride it in November.”