Pelosi stands firm on $2.2 trillion coronavirus bill


Despite losses among her own troops, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that last week’s election has stiffened her spine on her demand for a massive coronavirus spending package she says is needed to “crush” the virus.

She called the growing rate of infections “the most compelling argument” for going big, and said Republicans will seem “cold-hearted” if they don’t embrace a higher price tag for the next relief bill.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer insisted Democrats are ready to negotiate — though Mrs. Pelosi left little room for deal-making on the size of the package, saying everything in a $2.2 trillion bill the House passed last month is necessary.

That includes a massive infusion of cash for states, which Republicans say would go to reward profligate governors and legislatures at the expense of taxpayers.

“If the Republicans decide that they don’t care about the health and well-being of Medicaid and what it means to people in their lives, the public will know,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that Mrs. Pelosi is still shooting too high.

“That’s not a place I think we’re willing to go. But I do think there needs to another package,” he said.

He said given the pace the economy is improving, Republicans want to see a bill “highly targeted at what the residual problems are.”

Reporters peppered Mrs. Pelosi with questions about the election results and whether, after five months of stalemate, she saw a need to soften her demands, particularly after she saw her caucus shed seats in the election and will return with a weaker majority.

Mr. Schumer said if anything, Democrats have a stronger mandate after the election because of the result at the presidential level.

“This election was maybe more a referendum on who can handle COVID well than anything else,” the New York Democrat said. “The Donald Trump approach was repudiated. The Joe Biden approach was embraced.”

Mrs. Pelosi had been negotiating with the Trump administration to try to reach a deal before the election, but they were too far apart on price tag and some key provisions.

And it’s not clear Mr. Trump could have delivered Senate Republicans to that deal anyway.

GOP senators are looking at a much smaller price tag — their most recent bill was about $500 billion — and even then, it had to include some add-ons such as tax breaks for private school scholarship funds in order to sweeten the deal.

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