House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference on Thursday, as Congress goes on summer hiatus without any agreement on a new coronavirus stimulus bill. President Donald Trump signed four executive orders and memoranda this past week to help cover the lack of a national stimulus bill.
The Democrat-controlled House passed a $3 trillion stimulus bill, while the Republican-controlled Senate prefers a $1 trillion bill. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), passed earlier this year, added some $2.2 trillion to the national debt after its passage. Pelosi gave no indication of any concern whatsoever about the massive increase in the national debt. “We’ll come down a trillion. If you go up a trillion. We’ll meet you halfway,” she said concerning negotiations with congressional Republicans, according to the transcript of the press conference. On the other side of the aisle, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said of the Democrats, “They are still rejecting any more relief for anyone unless they get a flood of demands with no real relationship to COVID-19.”
The House’s bill calls for $10 billion in aid to the U.S. Postal Service. Pelosi attempted to link the Postal Service funds to the upcoming presidential election, claiming that because of coronavirus fears millions of voters will have to use mail-in voting in lieu of voting in the traditional in-person method. Republicans have called into question the security and integrity of mass mail-in voting. In reference to the billions in aid for the Postal Service and an additional $3.4 billion called for in the House bill for states to handle increased mail-in voting, President Trump said, “They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.” Pelosi’s flippant answer at the press conference was, “So I said to my folks, “Don’t call it vote by mail anymore. Just call it absentee ballot.”
The entirety of the Speaker’s remarks amounted to political grandstanding, which is to be expected during an election season. According to WHEC.com Pelosi claimed that, “people will die” if no new stimulus package occurs until after Congress reconvenes in September. Democrats claim that they are ready to resume negotiating when Republicans are ready. “We have again made clear to the Administration that we are willing to resume negotiations once they start to take this process seriously,” a Democratic congressional statement said. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin countered with, “The Democrats have no interest in negotiating.” Despite the current impasse, all members of the Congress will be on 24-hour call to return to session in Washington if any new developments occur before the regular resumption of the body in September.