Pelosi urges GOP to “come to the table” and continue discussions on funds for small businesses

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Pelosi’s remarks, in an interview with the Washington Post, endangered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s request, the speaker being ready to wait for House action until the Republicans get closer to her position. She calls for changes to the GOP’s proposal as well as an additional $ 250 billion that would benefit hospitals and states as they seek to increase testing and purchase supplies.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) Also expressed outrage over President Trump’s overthrow of two inspectors general over the past week, a scheme which, according to the president’s critics, is a direct attack on one of the pillars of good governance.

“It dishonors the Constitution. It degrades the environment of what our country is, “said Pelosi of Trump’s disruption in standards and the use of executive power, including his dismissal of Michael Atkinson, the community’s inspector general Intelligence, and the dismissal of Glenn Fine, President of the Congress from the federal panel. created to oversee the administration’s management of the $ 2,000 billion coronavirus recovery plan.

But his work this week has been dominated by the political showdown with Republicans on supporting small businesses.

“I said very clearly: what they are proposing will not get unanimous consent from the House. There is no reason why they should not be able to come to the table and see the value of what we are offering, “said Pelosi, speaking by phone from San Francisco and referring to the Democrats’ counter in Mnuchin. “You cannot expect us to raise the issue of unequal access to capital as we try to fight the coronavirus. “

The majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Nevertheless plans to go ahead on Thursday and will try to approve Mnuchin’s plan by unanimous consent, a dynamic by which legislation can be adopted as long as that senators do not oppose it.

When asked if the Senate Democrats should oppose, Pelosi said she always avoids meddling in the business of the other chamber of Congress, but reiterated that she found Mnuchin’s request deeply flawed .

“I’m just telling you what the House will do,” she said.

While many Republicans spent much of Wednesday lobbying Pelosi to pass the $ 250 billion in additional funds described by Mnuchin, Pelosi insisted there was time in the coming days to negotiate a broader bipartisan agreement.

“They have a few – several hundred billion dollars to get by, if they don’t do it before Easter Sunday,” she said, referring to the $ 349 billion fund known as name of Paycheck Protection Program, a key part of the $ 2. trillion economic bailouts passed by Congress last month that were inundated with implementation problems and overwhelming demand.

“From Friday to Monday or Tuesday, it doesn’t tell whether it works or not,” said Pelosi. She then noted that as a practicing Catholic, she had no plans to enter into negotiations during Easter.

“Easter is a glorious occasion – the article of faith, Christ is risen,” said Pelosi. “I have no intention of spending Sunday on something that should be so obvious to them – to respect everyone in this country and the way they aspire to meet their financial needs. “

In a conference call with House Democrats earlier on Wednesday, Pelosi and majority leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) Suggested that an agreement could be reached on Friday.

Trump said on Tuesday that banks had processed $ 70 billion in taxpayer-guaranteed loans for 250,000 small businesses since Friday. However, he did not say how many of these loans had been approved or how many companies had received the money.

And his data suggests that the program has reached a small fraction of American businesses: there are 30 million small businesses in the United States that employ 60 million people.

“We’re going to run out of money soon enough, which is a good thing in this case, not a bad thing,” Trump told reporters.

Pelosi and minority leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) released their own list of requests on Wednesday, which included requesting half of the $ 250 billion the administration asked to go through. community financial institutions serving farmers and small businesses; and non-profit organizations owned by families, women, minorities, and veterans.

Their list also included $ 100 billion for hospitals, community health centers and other health systems to increase testing and the necessary protective gear and equipment; An additional $ 150 billion for state and local governments; and a 15% increase in the benefits of food stamps.

Last year, the federal government spent $ 55.6 billion on these nutrition assistance benefits. The money Democrats are looking for hospitals and cities and states is similar to what they got in the recent emergency package, which would double the overall federal funding commitment in these areas.

Pelosi – who has had a strong negotiating relationship with Mnuchin for the past few months while she and Trump have clashed and have not spoken since October – said he said directly to the Secretary of the Treasury that his plan was unacceptable without change, and she remains optimistic that he will eventually come back to parts of her proposal.

“I don’t know why they wouldn’t do it,” she said. “The discussion must continue because the community financial institutions” support minority businesses and other businesses that need capital. “They should be happy. This gives them a pass to help many other businesses. “

Looking ahead to a new round of follow-up care law talks, the largest economic rescue program in US history, Pelosi said she would continue to push to include funds and provisions for mail voting in this bill, which some Liberals have pleaded with her to make an ultimatum.

The clamor only increased after Tuesday’s primary election in Wisconsin, where the state’s Supreme Court blocked Democratic Governor Tony Evers’s decree suspending voting in person.

“Shameful. Shameful and disheartening, “said Pelosi of what happened in Wisconsin this week. “We would like it to contain some of what we had in our first bill, which was same-day registration, sending the ballot directly to everyone who registers to vote – issues like that one, which facilitate voting by mail. Again, this is the discussion for the next bill, for which we are generally ready. ”

Regarding surveillance of the Trump administration, Pelosi said the select committee she launched last week to review the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and its management of the rescue law , was preparing to start its work.

In the midst of the pandemic and a limited congressional calendar, the committee, which would have subpoena, has yet to be formally approved by the House.

Trump sacked Fine, who was the Pentagon’s acting inspector general, and informed him on Monday that he was being replaced at the Department of Defense by Sean W. O’Donnell, currently inspector general at the Protection Agency. the environment.

At the end of last month, Mr. Fine was chosen by the head of a board of inspectors general to head the pandemic accountability committee, created by the law of March 27.

“The president undermines it,” said Pelosi. “We’re going to have to make sure the public understands why they would do this. “

Trump also informed Congress on Friday that he is ousting Atkinson as the intelligence community’s inspector general, a sign that Trump’s conduct on this front is “greater than the coronavirus,” Pelosi said.

“It is a unitary vision of government where the voice of the president is the only voice that counts,” she said.

When asked if she would seek new protections for inspectors general, Pelosi was thencouraging, but did not go into details. She described related legislation proposed Wednesday by Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.), Chair of the House Oversight Committee and Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), Chair of the Government Operations Subcommittee, d ‘a “good idea” but said it would be difficult to get Trump to sign a law that would restrict his power.

In closing, Pelosi, who was effectively the leader of his Trump-era party, congratulated Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Who ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday, for his efforts and ability to excite young people. Sanders’ decision leaves former Vice President Joe Biden as the presumed Democratic candidate.

“I truly salute Senator Sanders for his values, his commitment to ensuring that everyone in our country is well shaken,” said Pelosi, in particular to promote “access to quality and affordable health care.” “

Pelosi said that she and Sanders “may have different thoughts on the viability of Medicare-for-all right now,” but she called him “limitless in endurance and energy” and an ally for her and all democrats.

Pelosi, however, refused to approve Biden on the spot.

“Not at this call,” she said with a small laugh. “It’s Bernie’s day. “

Erica Werner, Ellen Nakashima and Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.

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