Political News

Pelosi defiant over handling of stimulus: Rejecting previous Republican proposals was 'not a mistake'

Posted December 4, 2020 5:02 p.m. EST

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday stood by the way she has handled the stimulus negotiations, telling reporters during her weekly news conference that both she and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agree Covid-19 relief should be tied to the government funding bill facing a December 11 deadline.

When asked by CNN's Manu Raju if it had been a mistake to reject a smaller stimulus proposed by Republicans months ago since they're talking about a similar proposal now, Pelosi responded, "No."

"It was not a mistake, it was a decision that has taken us to a place where we can do the right thing without other, shall we say, considerations in the legislation that we don't want," she continued, adding that "I'm very proud of where we are. ... My chairs have worked very hard on all of this."

Pelosi's comments come as the possibility of a deal brokered in a matter of days emerges and as some members have expressed frustration that the California Democrat did not cut a deal on a stimulus bill in the closing days of an election that saw the caucus' majority shrink significantly.

McConnell and Pelosi have been in discussions over a possible $908 billion deal pushed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers -- and lawmakers are trying to attach an agreement to a massive funding proposal to avoid a government shutdown by December 11.

"When I spoke to Leader McConnell yesterday, we talked about the possibility of putting the Covid package on the omnibus bill," Pelosi told reporters Friday. "But he and I, being appropriators, know that if you're going to do that, you have to have an omnibus bill, and so we have to work through the, all of the provisions that are still unresolved there in making progress."

Pelosi also said President-elect Joe Biden believes that this Covid-19 relief is "just at best a start, and that's how we see it as well."

"It's less money but over a shorter period of time, and we need to do it to save lives and livelihoods with the hope that much more help is on the way," she added.

Following the election, many Democrats privately second-guessed decisions by party leaders, including the failure of Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to cut a big-ticket stimulus deal in the weeks before the election November 3.

Some Democrats complained about Pelosi's handling this summer of police reform and the previous round of economic stimulus, which stalled amid broken-down talks between the speaker and the treasury secretary.

"She made everyone walk the plank on qualified immunity," a legal doctrine that critics say is shielding law enforcement and government officials from accountability, and "didn't cut a deal on Covid," one Democratic member said last month. "Thank God for Biden or we would have gotten wiped out."

Some centrist House Democrats in conservative districts ran into problems fending off GOP attacks they backed a far-left agenda, including in South Carolina and Oklahoma, where Reps. Joe Cunningham and Kendra Horn, respectively, lost their races. Those races had always presented challenges, but some said more could have been done to protect such Democrats in tight races, including Pelosi being more willing to accept a major stimulus deal with Mnuchin.

"There needs to be an attitude in leadership in getting legislation passed -- and not messaging bills. I keep telling people, you know how much money the Heroes Act got to my district? Zero," a second Democratic member said in November, referring to the $3 trillion-plus Democratic bill passed in May that Republicans refused to take up in the Senate.

Meanwhile, Democratic senators are opening up to a smaller Covid-19 relief deal. How small is another question entirely, but multiple Democratic members CNN spoke to early this week said a deal is so crucial they would be willing to find something between Republicans' previous $500 billion proposal and Pelosi's $2 trillion bill if it meant coming home with a deal.

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