House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accused CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer of being “an apologist” for Republicans as the two parties seek the upper hand in negotiations over a new round of economic stimulus to aid Americans suffering hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"I don't know why you’re always an apologist, and many of your colleagues, apologists for the Republican position,” Pelosi snapped in a Tuesday interview with Blitzer. The anchor had asked her about a tweet by Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., encouraging the speaker to accept the Trump administration’s offer of $1.8 trillion in stimulus.
On Sunday, Khana tweeted his view that Pelosi should accept a $1.8 trillion package floated by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin rather than holding out for the $2.2 trillion the House Democrats are seeking.
People in need can’t wait until February. 1.8 trillion is significant & more than twice Obama stimulus. It will allow Biden to start with infrastructure. Obama won in 08 by doing the right thing on TARP instead of what was expedient. Make a deal & put the ball in McConnell court. https://t.co/qAEtd049sW— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) October 11, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that Republicans in the Senate would not pass either package and favors targeted stimulus instead, but has sought to apply pressure on Pelosi by describing Democrats as unwilling to compromise.
“So far they have said if we can’t do everything we want to do, we won’t do anything,” McConnell said Tuesday. “That doesn’t solve the problem.”
That spin was clearly on Pelosi’s mind during Tuesday’s interview with Blitzer, in which she insisted that the dispute wasn’t just over $1.8 trillion versus $2.2 trillion, but the specifics of the respective plans and what the money would pay for.
“Ro Khanna, that’s nice,” Pelosi continued. “That isn’t what we’re going to do and nobody’s waiting until February. I want this very much now, because people need help now, but it’s no use giving them a false thing just because the president wants to put a check with his name on it in the mail that we should not be doing all we can to help people pay the rent, put food on the table and enhance benefits, that they don’t lose their jobs if they’re state and local. We’re talking about the consequences of a pandemic, that the symptoms of a problem that the president refuses to address—”
“We know the problem out there,” Blitzer interjected, “But there are millions of Americans who have lost their jobs. They can’t pay the rent. Kids need the food—”
“That’s right, and that’s what we’re trying to get done,” Pelosi fired back.
Blitzer: “$1.8 trillion and the president just tweeted, ‘STIMULUS. Go big or go home!!!’ He wants even more right now, so why not work out a deal with him and don’t let the perfect, as they say here in Washington, be the enemy of the good?”
“Well I will not let the wrong be the enemy of the right,” Pelosi responded.
“What’s wrong with $1.8 trillion?” Blitzer countered.
“You know what? Do you have any idea what the difference is between the spending that they have in their bill and that we have in our bill?” Pelosi asked. “Do you realize that they have come back and said all these things for child tax credits and earned income tax credits, helping people who have lost their jobs are eliminated in their bill?”
Earlier on Tuesday, President Trump seemed to indicate his support for a large stimulus package.
STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2020
Yet Trump has been erratic on whether to try to work with Democrats on a bill before the Nov. 3 election, last week posting tweets announcing that he had directed his representatives to stop negotiating with Pelosi.
When Blitzer continued to press Pelosi on statements made by Khanna and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who also favors cutting a deal with the president, Pelosi again grew exasperated.
“Honest to God, I really can’t get over it. Because Andrew Yang, he’s lovely. Ro Khanna, he’s lovely. They’re not negotiating this situation,” Pelosi said, adding,“You evidently do not respect the chairman of the committees who wrote these bills.”
“I respect all of you,” Blitzer responded.
“I wish you would respect the knowledge that goes into meeting the needs of the American people, but again, you’ve been on a jag defending the administration all this time, with no knowledge of the difference between our two bills and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to say that to you in person,” Pelosi said.
“Madam Speaker, these are incredibly difficult times right now and we’ll leave it on that note. Thank you so much for—”
“No, we’ll leave it on the note that you are not right on this, Wolf, and I hate to say that to you,” Pelosi interrupted. “But I feel confident about it and I feel confident about my colleagues and I feel confidence in my chairs.”
Blitzer countered that it “was not about me” but about Americans putting food on the table.
“And we represent them,” Pelosi shot back.
Blitzer then repeated his assertion that Democrats shouldn’t let “the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
“It is nowhere near perfect,” Pelosi said, the exchange growing even more heated.
“Every day is critically, critically important,” Blitzer said, attempting to wrap up the interview.
“Thanks so much for your sensitivity to our constituents’ needs,” Pelosi shot back sardonically.
“I am sensitive to them because I see them on the street begging for food, begging for money,” Blitzer said, appearing to lose his own cool. “Madam Speaker, thank you so much—”
“Have you fed them? We feed them. We feed them,” Pelosi fired back.
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