McConnell and Pelosi draw coronavirus battle lines

The House Democrats said Monday that they are already starting to work on their legislation. But McConnell said it could take days, if not weeks, for his majority to assess what was needed in addition to last week’s $ 2 trillion economic forecast.

The Republicans criticized the Democrats’ plans in the House of Representatives, and Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) Said this week when another bill was needed, “this shouldn’t be the means for Speaker Pelosi’s party political wish list,” and struck they expressly put down attempts to restore state and local tax deductions for wealthy states. But in an obvious foreword to McConnell, Pelosi said on “Morning Joe” Tuesday that she “hears people say they make this wish list”. And that’s not the case. “

“In our negotiations, we agreed that everything we do is specific to the coronavirus challenge,” said Pelosi, checking off the water, land transport and broadband infrastructure for people who work from home. “We may have our differences, but we have to find our common ground.”

Still, McConnell and Pelosi have never had a particularly warm relationship. Pelosi called McConnell a “rogue leader” earlier this year, and McConnell accused her of delaying legislation last week and trying to be Senate spokesman.

There are still bad feelings about the breakneck efforts to pass the $ 2 trillion emergency bill. Pelosi wanted congressmen to negotiate these laws, but McConnell rejected them in a phone call. Pelosi returned to Washington to oppose the GOP’s attempts to legislate without it.

Now Pelosi can use the upcoming Phase 4 bill to reaffirm Democrats’ priorities regarding sick days and new incentive spending programs.

“Imagine you are worried about being sick and don’t even have the resources to meet your family’s needs. We have important work to do. Another three bills, very bipartisan, ”she said. “And what we will do next will also be non-partisan.”

McConnell said he would see every house bill in Ronald Reagan’s proposal lens [at how] We look at the Russians: trust, but check. “

The early positioning of the two heads of state and government suggests that the next phase of relief laws for the novel corona virus could follow a more traditional path of divided government than the rapid efforts to adopt last week’s emergency package. The next phase in Congress’s response could instead be a tedious, week-long public struggle between Democrats and Republicans, as Congress is at least until April 20 and possibly longer.

In addition, President Donald Trump and his allies could revive efforts to lower wage taxes this year in the next phase, according to Congress advisers, a curveball that could spark tensions in both parties. Trump said on Twitter that he saw Pelosi’s appearance in “Morning Joe” to see “what steps she was taking to further hurt our country.” Other than her usual complaint that I’m a terrible person, she wasn’t actually bad. “

But Trump also seemed warm to some of Pelosi’s plans a few minutes later, tweeting that Congress should create a “HUGE” BOLD $ 2 trillion infrastructure bill at low interest rates. So far, Congress Republicans have been cool about this idea.

For the Democrats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, there is no question of whether more laws will eventually be required, especially as the outbreak continues to widen and the economic sectors limp and force millions on the unemployment list and close companies.

“There will probably be a fourth and maybe a fifth before we’re done,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) Argued that the first tranches of emergency aid were simply to stop the bleeding in the economy and not to spur recovery. The next bill, he said, has to invest in infrastructure to actually help people at work. “The first bills were more a rescue and a relief than a suggestion,” said Gottheimer.

But McConnell was noncommittal when asked by Hewitt about the prospects for another package. He said the Treasury needs to cut checks for Americans and Congress needs to evaluate what the $ 2 trillion injected into the economy is doing for the unemployed and small businesses.

“This bill was only signed last Friday. So it’s only been about four days of law and the speaker is already talking about another bill, ”said McConnell. “She didn’t suggest the house be back in session by April 20, and I said the same thing. So let’s see how things go and respond accordingly.”

McConnell has committed to one thing, however. When asked by Hewitt whether the Senate would resume confirming Trump’s nominations to the judiciary, he replied, “My motto for the rest of the year is not to leave any vacancies.”

Sarah Ferris, Heather Caygle and Quint Forgey contributed to this report.

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