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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is finally bringing the House of Representatives back to work for a vote on Friday. The House went into recess on March 14 after passing the coronavirus stimulus bill, the CARES Act. Representatives briefly returned in late April to pass extra funding for the Paycheck Protection Act, but then they went into recess again. While the Senate went back to work last Monday, the House has remained in recess for two months. Both chambers went into recess citing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, as the Washington, D.C., area is a COVID-19 hotspot.
On Tuesday, Pelosi unveiled her $3 trillion bill supposedly focused on providing more relief for Americans during the coronavirus crisis. Like her previous efforts, however, the bill is jam-packed with lefty wish-list items, including vote-by-mail provisions, unemployment checks that actually pay workers more than they would receive on the job, and a repeal of part of Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, among other things.
As House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) explained, Democrats “are taking advantage of this crisis to play politics and push their radical socialist agenda. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. Take them at their words.”
Scalise’s tweet features a video showing Democrats confessing to just that. “This would be a terrible crisis to waste, as the old saying goes,” Hillary Clinton says in the video. “It’s important for us to put forth our bill now, without too much conversation with other people,” chimes in Pelosi. “We have real concerns about giving away leverage now without getting some of the priorities that we need,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) says.
“We have an incredible opportunity to not just dig out of this crisis but to fundamentally transform the country,” adds presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, echoing his previous statements about the coronavirus crisis being a “wake up call” for climate change and an “opportunity” for institutional change. The video also references Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.)’s statement that the coronavirus crisis represents “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”
By the way, Scalise’s video cuts off after CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Pelosi to respond to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)’s claim that her new bill is “a liberal wish list of a bunch of items that you wanted to have passed even before the coronavirus pandemic happened.”
Scalise cut to video of Pelosi laughing, but her actual response was instructive.
“He knows that what he said isn’t so,” the speaker claimed. “The fact is that in all four of the bills that have passed before, they’ve all been bipartisan. We’ve all, in our Caucus, have agreed that everything is coronavirus-centric and also in a timely way that relates to the virus. It’s too deadly to our lives, to our livelihood, to our democracy, for us to use it for any other purpose.”
Pelosi is correct that all four of the bills that passed were bipartisan, but she and her fellow Democrats obstructed them in order to present alternative versions that had no chance of passing. After Republican and Democratic leadership had already hashed out a deal with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Senate Democrats blocked that bill and allowed Pelosi to put forward her version. Pelosi’s alternative bill included such urgent coronavirus-related issues as LGBT financial literacy, collective bargaining for unions, mandates for airlines to report the exact amount of carbon emissions on every flight beforehand, and a $15/hour minimum wage.
Those “priorities” sure don’t sound “coronavirus-centric” to me.
As for the latest bill, it includes a hate crimes reporting provision and “environmental justice grants,” along with a provision to tie Trump’s hands on inspectors general.
Whatever Pelosi says, Scalise pointed out the true reasons behind her maneuvering. Her attempts to leverage the coronavirus crisis for her political pet projects are despicable.