The two leaders, whose public relations have been strained in recent weeks, adopt different tactics regarding the follow-up of the legislation and fight their way through the media on the next steps to deal with the devastating economic and health effects of the pandemic .
The mixed messages, which occur while lawmakers are out of town until at least April 20, highlight the imminent challenge of maintaining Congress’ response to the bipartisan coronavirus. The first three bills were passed with overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle.
Pelosi has had near-daily calls to journalists and has acted aggressively to describe what she sees as top priorities for Democrats in the next measure: transportation, free coronavirus treatment, more money for states and other issues such as worker protection and an increase in paid leave and paid sick leave. .
“The coronavirus is evolving rapidly and our communities cannot afford to wait. The Democrats in the House will continue to work tirelessly and bipartisan to raise American families and workers to protect their health, economic security and well-being today and throughout this crisis, “said Pelosi Friday.
But these ideas have met with a buzzsaw in the form of McConnell and other Senate Republicans, who have been around for the past week pleading for Congress to take a wait-and-see approach after President TrumpDonald John Trump Pelosi plans to file fourth NBA coronavirus bill in late April to supply 1 million surgical masks to essential workers in NY Kushner-linked private equity firm calls on Trump administration to ease Loan Program Rules: PLUS Report signed a $ 2.2 trillion bailout package late last month.
“We are not going to do anything in the name of an emergency that is unrelated to the emergency,” McConnell told Fox News Radio when speaking about a “phase four” bill. “
Leader of the parliamentary minority Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyPelosi Reduces Coronavirus Infrastructure Proposal Democrats Urge Trump And GOP To Fund Postal Ballots Top GOP Legislators Reject Need For Special Supervisory Board For Coronavirus Assistance PLUS (R-Calif.) McConnell argued, telling reporters that while Pelosi “is trying to talk about a fourth bill, I don’t think it’s appropriate yet. “
Some GOP senators have said they are already informally discussing a fourth bill, as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States is expected to skyrocket in the coming weeks. As of Friday evening, there were around 274,000 cases in the United States and more than 7,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
But even as senators say they have behind-the-scenes talks, Pelosi and McConnell have spent days exchanging barbs in the media.
McConnell, in one of several interviews, told Pelosi to “step down” and argued that she was trying to “muddle” the Republicans in the Senate.
Pelosi later highlighted the rhetoric of the GOP leader, as well as a distinct war of words between Trump and the Senate minority leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBiden Calls on Trump to Appoint Coronavirus “Supply Commander”, Democrats Urge Trump and GOP to Fund Postal Ballots Schumer Double Calls Trump to Appoint Tsar of PLUS coronavirus supply (D-N.Y.), Calling it “chicken feed.”
“You can’t pay attention to this stuff,” Pelosi told reporters. “They play at their base. “
The administration has been careful not to get too involved in the public showdown between the two Congressional leaders.
Asked about the break between the two in terms of additional legislation, the Secretary of the Treasury Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump Seeks Additional Funding For Pandemic Small Business Decentralized Leadership Raises Questions About Trump’s Response To Coronavirus Progressive Group Hits McConnell For Talking About Legal Choices During Coronavirus PLUS told reporters that he was in contact with the two of them.
“I spoke to the chief, I spoke to the President. I constantly talked to the president. When the president is ready and thinks we should take the next step, we are ready, “he said.
Larry KudlowLawrence (Larry) Alan Kudlow PLUS, head of the National Economic Council, echoed McConnell, saying that existing measures against coronaviruses should have the potential to have an impact.
“I don’t want to disagree with the President. And I’m just saying, let this thing happen, “he told reporters at the White House on Friday.
The back-and-forth comes as the two congressional leaders stayed at D.C. to deal with the coronavirus crisis. But a spokesperson for Pelosi said they had not entered into negotiations on a fourth coronavirus bill.
However, they speak of a supervisory board created as part of the latest stimulus package to oversee about $ 500 billion in aid to hard-hit industries.
“I told Mitch about it because he and I have to agree on the identity of this fifth person. And we have set up some kind of criteria on how it would happen, ”said Pelosi on Friday. “I really think … that we can find common ground as we progress.”
Control of the drafting of congressional legislation on coronaviruses made a yo-yo between McConnell and Pelosi, causing frustration on both sides of the Capitol.
The President and Mnuchin negotiated the second bill, estimated at $ 104 billion. But the move, which extended paid sick leave, sparked a backlash from Senate Republicans, who felt they had been sidelined during legislative talks.
“My advice to them is to gag and vote anyway,” McConnell told reporters about his advice to GOP senators on the bill at the time.
In a course correction, McConnell then took over the third coronavirus bill, drafting a GOP proposal before opening negotiations with the Democrats. He also repeatedly criticized Pelosi, accusing him of returning to Washington and stalling negotiations at a meeting on Sunday between the four congressional leaders and Mnuchin.
“She is the Speaker of the House, not the Speaker of the Senate. We do not have it. We were fine with this intervention, “said McConnell in one of several speeches where he burned the House leader.
Democrats dispute McConnell’s schedule, saying bipartisan progress on the third stimulus bill was already collapsing when the Republicans stopped negotiations late Saturday night and started drafting legislation without Democrats.
Some Republicans also seem to fear that Pelosi will gain the upper hand by having his own proposal when Congress returns on April 20.
“I think we have to start thinking seriously about phase 4. I think it would be a mistake to give the President the pen,” said the senator. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanGOP Senators Open Informal Talks on New Coronavirus Stimulus GOP Senators Urge Saudi Arabia to Quit OPEC Overnight Energy: Democratic Legislators Seek to Cut Emissions in Airline Rescue | House Dems Warns Trump Against Oil Industry Rescue | GOP Senators Call on Saudis to Stabilize Oil Market PLUS (R-Alaska) said in an interview with Hugh Hewitt.
Among the ideas put forward by Pelosi, the biggest stumbling block for Republicans is to make a massive infrastructure package as part of the response to the coronavirus. The two sides have expressed interest in a substantial infrastructure bill for years, but have been unable to reach an agreement on how to pay.
Pelosi also sparked a Republican anger after suggesting that the $ 10,000 GOP tax law on state and local taxes be reversed in the $ 10,000 limit.
“Last week: carbon regulations. Now? A tax gift for the wealthy in the blue states, scrutinized by economists across the spectrum. It’s a crisis. Let’s do it that way, ”McConnell tweeted.
But there seems to be a slight thaw after days of cutting when McConnell admitted that there would be a fourth bill, although he said he was not rushing to draft it.
” [It] should be a more targeted response to what we have done poorly and what we have not done enough – and at the top of the list there should be a part of health care, “he said. he told the Associated Press.
Pelosi also appeared to go back on some of his broader ideas and said parts of his infrastructure plan may not be included in the next bill.
But highlighting partisan tensions, McConnell immediately used Pelosi’s comments for a mini-victory lap, with his staff detonating an email to reporters: “Pelosi steps down again after Senate Republicans put down a curb the Liberal wish list. ”
“I am pleased that President Pelosi is once again withdrawing from efforts to use this crisis to advance independent leftist priorities,” he added in a tweet. “The latest proposal had been a massive gift from the tax code for the wealthy in the blue states that was instantly dismissed by economists across the spectrum. “
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