Nancy Pelosi To Hold Up Stimulus Negotiations Unless Republicans Agree To Spend A Lot More Money

( Nancy Pelosi said millions of Americans would not see economic relief unless Republicans are willing to spend more money.

On Thursday, the Democratic Speaker of the House said she wouldn’t return to the negotiating table with White House officials until they agreed to a $2 trillion price tag for the next coronavirus economic relief bill.

At a news conference she holds weekly, Pelosi was asked when she would be ready to sit down and negotiate again. Her reply:

“I don’t know, when they come with $2 trillion. When they’re ready to do that, we’ll sit down.”

House Democrats proposed the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act back in May, and Senate Republicans came back with a $1 trillion package of their own called the HEALS Act. The White House has been adamant about keeping the total price tag of the deal to close to $1 trillion, so as to not plunge the country too much further in debt.

During negotiations, Pelosi offered to decrease the Democrats’ ask by $1 trillion if White House officials would agree to increase theirs by $1 trillion. But Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, said that $2 trillion total is “a non-starter.”

Reporters asked Pelosi this week why she thought Republicans wouldn’t “meet in the middle.”

“Perhaps you mistook them for someone who gave a damn,” she replied.

The reality of the situation, though, is that the Democrats weren’t really reducing the total price tag of their offer when they came down to $2 trillion. Instead, it just shortens the timelines of some of their proposed programs.

As Mark Meadows, the White House Chief of Staff who has been part of the negotiations, said:

“I don’t know that that’s a reduction, as much as she is just changing the timeframes. I don’t think she’s come off with her number, other than just made a shorter time.”

In other words, Democrats haven’t offered to trim the “fat” of their proposed legislation. They’ve just offered to shorten the amount of time some of their programs run, such as extended unemployment benefits.

The total price tag will continue to be a challenge for negotiators. That’s because it’s unlikely that Democrats don’t feel like they’d have enough votes in the House to pass any economic stimulus bill that is less than $2 trillion. At the same time, Republicans don’t feel like they’d have enough votes in the Senate to pass any economic stimulus bill that is more than $1 million.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer explained the Democrats’ stance:

“The House doesn’t have the votes to go south of $2 trillion. The Senate Democrats can’t go south of $2 trillion, so that’s what compromise is all about. Because there are 20 Republicans who don’t want to vote anything, that doesn’t mean the whole thing should shift in their direction. You have to meet in the middle.”

A major point of contention in the negotiations is $1 trillion that Democrats are demanding for aid to be sent to local and state governments. Republicans don’t want to give them any new money, since many states haven’t spent what’s been given to them so far.