House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House of Representatives will pass a $2 trillion economic stimulus package to support businesses and workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic “as soon as the Senate passes it.” The upper chamber is expected to take action Wednesday night, with a vote in the House expected as soon as Thursday.
The California Democrat told PBS NewsHour anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff that it is unlikely the bill can pass by unanimous consent. While some members of Congress have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and others remain in quarantine, Pelosi said the House would likely allow some members to vote by proxy if they couldn’t reach agreement by a voice vote on the bill. She continues to oppose remote voting from outside of the Capitol because of constitutional and technological challenges, despite increasing pressure from some of her Democratic colleagues to allow the change in response to the pandemic.
Other highlights from the interview:
- Defending the $600 unemployment boost. Pelosi dismissed concerns of some Republican senators who said the bill’s unemployment benefit as currently written — which would give $600 per person, per week, in addition to state benefits — would incentivize people to stop working. “You can’t just quit and say, ‘I’m going on unemployment,’” Pelosi said. The speaker said the one-size-fits-all strategy was best, given the complexity of tailoring this kind of relief to different states.
- What Pelosi would have done differently: Pelosi said the bill Congress will likely pass this week has seen many changes to be more worker-friendly since Senate Democrats blocked two procedural bills on an earlier draft on Monday. “Democrats in the Congress performed some jujitsu,” Pelosi said. But there were still areas she would have liked to be different, including: higher direct payments for Americans and expanded family medical leave.
- This isn’t the last of coronavirus funding.The speaker agreed with criticism leveled by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who said his state, which at the moment has more COVID-19 cases than any other, did not get enough direct assistance in the bill. “We can’t fix it in this bill,” Pelosi said. “But this is not going to be the last bill.”