Pelosi Says Democrats ‘Did Jiu-Jitsu’ on Coronavirus Relief Bill

The $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed by the Senate is being described as “the art of compromise,” and Democrats say they worked hard to insert provisions to help workers more than corporations.

During her weekly press conference on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Congressional Democrats worked hard to make it a “workers first legislation.”

“Last night, as you know, the Senate passed important legislation. We’re very proud of the product. We did jiu-jitsu on it,” Pelosi said, adding, “It went from a corporate first proposal that the Republicans put forth in the Senate to a workers first, Democratic workers first legislation.”

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Democrats balked at the initial bill put forth by Republicans and called it a “corporate bailout.” In particular, they raised concerns over a $500 billion fund aimed at providing relief to businesses facing hardships because of the coronavirus.

Senate Democrats blocked the bill twice from advancing passed a procedural hurdle as they sought changes to the legislation. They argued that the bill did not provide strong enough protections for workers or strict enough regulations for businesses that receive aid from the government.

After negotiations, they were able to make modifications to the provision regarding loans to businesses that included stricter oversight.

Additionally, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that the bill now includes a provision that prevents businesses owned by “any major figure in government” from getting access to aid provided by the legislation.

However, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) blasted Pelosi for her claim that Democrats had performed jiu-jitsu on the bill.

“The speaker stood at this podium and claimed that House Democrats did what she called jiu-jitsu to change the bill — that is an outright lie,” McCarthy said during Thursday’s press conference.

He continued, “The only few additions were funding of things that had nothing to do with coronavirus. Was that worth holding it up and more people being laid off?”

“What Democrats did was a total disgrace,” he added. 

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McCarthy appeared to be referring to a portion of the bill that provides $100 million in funding for National Endowment for the Arts and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The bill also includes direct cash payments to Americans, an expansion of unemployment insurance, and billions worth of grants and loans for businesses to help stay afloat in the next weeks or months ahead.

The House is expected to hold a voice vote on the bill on Friday, and Pelosi said she expects her chamber to deliver a “victory tomorrow for America’s workers.”

Published in IJR