By Chris Enloe
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was confronted Sunday over her efforts to block coronavirus relief last year after she recently attempted to blame Republicans for holding up a second economic relief bill for millions of Americans whose sources of income have been cut by lockdowns and other COVID-related restrictions.
During an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes," Lesley Stahl noted that because Democrats lost so many seats in the House during the last election, Joe Biden's victory was not a signal that Americans want the Democratic agenda — they simply sought a new president.
In response, Pelosi claimed the election was a mandate that Americans want both the Democratic agenda and a new tone in the White House, adding that she tells Democrats they "have a responsibility to find common ground" with Republicans.
That's when Stahl confronted Pelosi.
"You yourself are not known as a person who compromises," Stahl said.
"No, I am. I compromise. We want to get the job done," Pelosi responded. "I'm mischaracterized by the Republicans that way, but that's a tactic that they use, but we know we want results for the American people."
"What about the COVID relief package that was held up for eight months?" Stahl fired back.
"No. But that was their obstruction," Pelosi claimed.
After more back-and-forth, in which Stahl continued to push back against Pelosi's claims that Republicans were "obstructing" COVID relief last year, Pelosi eventually admitted that Democrats indeed blocked COVID relief — but bashed Republicans in the process.
"You held out for eight months," Stahl pointed out.
"No, we held it up," Pelosi admitted, "because there was no respect for our heroes, our state and local health care workers, police and fire, our first responders, our sanitation, transportation, food workers, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers. They would not go down that path."
What's the background?
After quickly passing an economic relief package when the pandemic struck last spring, lawmakers were unable to agree on a second bill.
House Democrats actually passed a second package in May, but it was summarily rejected by Republicans because it was the most expensive bill in American history. The legislation, which totaled more than $3 trillion, was created without consultation with Republicans and was crammed full of items completely unrelated to the pandemic but that served to advance the Democratic agenda.
As the summer wore on the White House, and Republicans in general, tried negotiating with Democrats, but Pelosi refused to make concessions.
In fact, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows revealed in October that the White House had compromised so much with Pelosi that the Trump administration actually had agreed to a $1.9 trillion relief package, which never came to fruition.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper confronted Pelosi in October over her obstruction, telling Pelosi matter-of-factly, "I'm looking at all the things that the White House is moving forward to your position on. And it seems like you could take yes for an answer."
Then, after Biden won the election, Pelosi said she was happy to negotiate a smaller COVID relief bill because a Democrat would soon be in the White House.
Author: Chris Enloe