House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is rejecting calls to pass a bill that would extend the enhanced unemployment benefits that expired on July 31.
The House is expected to vote on a $25 billion bill to fund the U.S Postal Service and a bill that would block Postmaster General Louis DeJoy from making controversial operational changes.
But more than 100 House Democrats say the chamber should also pass a bill that would extend the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits to help Americans who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, in an interview on the “PBS NewsHour” on Thursday night, Pelosi said she did not support the idea of passing a smaller bill without funding for state and local governments because she fears Congressional Republicans would try to block that funding.
“I don’t think strategically it’s where we should go right now, because the Republicans would like to pass something like that and say forget about it,” Pelosi said.
“Forget about state and local, forget about our investments in stopping the virus, forget about other initiatives that feed the food insecure children in our country, vote by mail initiatives, and the rest,” she added.
She claimed Senate Republicans could put “poison pills all over it,” and it would likely pass because, “It’s hard to vote against extending unemployment benefits.”
When pressed on whether Pelosi believes Democrats can reach an agreement with Republicans on a relief package, she said, “I do, and I don’t think it’s done by giving them an out. I think it’s done by making them come into the negotiations.”
Watch Pelosi’s remarks below:
In a letter dated August 18, more than 100 House Democrats called on Pelosi to move to pass a new bill that would extend the enhanced unemployment benefits for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Once the public health emergency ends, the extended benefits would begin to phase out as the unemployment rate drops.
After weeks of negotiations on a new coronavirus relief package failed to bear fruit, President Donald Trump acted unilaterally to provide relief to Americans by taking executive action.
Trump’s plan would provide Americans an extra $400 per week in their unemployment benefits. The federal government would provide $300, and states would have to contribute $100.
However, several states have already said they may not participate, Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott (R) said he is holding out hope that Congress will pass a “more robust deal.”