Dems again block bill as Pelosi’s pork demands hold up passage of stimulus package

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s demands are stalling passage of a key economic stimulus package that would help Americans impacted by coronavirus. Photo courtesy House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Facebook page.

WASHINGTON D.C. – The passage of an economic stimulus package seemed imminent with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York expressing over the weekend that negotiations were going well. That changed when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flew back to Washington from California and upended the negotiations.

With millions of Americans losing jobs or facing serious loss of income due to the pandemic, several Republican members, including Sens. Rand Paul and Mitt Romney were in isolation after exposure or positive tests for the COVID-19 virus. That meant more Democrat votes than usual were needed to move the bill forward, so Pelosi and Schumer had leverage.

Rep. James Clyburn, on a conference call with Democrat members of Congress, reportedly suggested that the crisis gave Democrats a “tremendous opportunity” to restructure policy more toward their long-term liberal vision.

Pelosi announced that she would introduce her own bill, instead of working with the Senate to finish negotiations on the bill that was nearly complete.

What followed, according to numerous sources, was a series of demands that all sorts of spending and provisions unrelated to the coronavirus and economic relief be added to the bill.

Sunday night, a vote to move the Senate bill forward failed on a 47-47 vote, with Senator Susan Collins voting in favor and Senator Angus King voting against.

Democrats wanted to negotiate for a series of additions to the bill that had little to do with economic relief due to coronavirus.

Democrats wanted to dust off the Green New Deal and crack down on the carbon emissions of airlines. They also wanted to add a law requiring those airlines to publicly disclose the carbon emissions of each flight.

Instead of just restricting companies who received government help from doing stock buy backs in the future, they wanted to take control of private companies by placing government officials on their boards and subcommittees.

They wanted to abolish the debt of the U.S. Postal Service and to change election laws nationally, essentially stripping away some of the power states have over their own election laws.

They wanted to change collective bargaining laws.

Monday brought more of the same, but with heightened tensions.

According to Lisa Desjardins from PBS News Hour, Senator Susan Collins took to the floor to give a speech. Senator Schumer objected, sparking a cry of “C’Mon. This is bullshit!” from Senator Tom Cotton.

Senator Collins then “walked thru her row to Schumer – stood a foot or so away, finger pointed, exclaimed, “you are objecting to my speaking? This is appalling!”

When she finally did speak, Collins’ speech became the viral video of the day. Calling out Democrats for their last minute demands and Schumer directly for trying to prevent her from speaking.

“We are in the midst of a crisis in our country caused by the coronavirus. When it comes to Americans’ health and saving Americans’ jobs and our small businesses, we don’t have another day. We don’t have another hour. We don’t have another minute to delay acting,” said Collins, stressing that so much of the bill before the Senate had been negotiated in a bipartisan fashion, including the small business plan she had personally negotiated.

But Democrats continued to oppose, voting down the bill the second time, with Maine’s two Senators splitting as they did in the first round.

American lives are at risk and Senator Collins has had enough. Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democrats need to get to work for the health of our nation, not their own self interests,” said RNC Spokesperson Nina McLaughlin.

Shortly following that vote, Pelosi released her version of the bill, a mammoth 1,400 page document.

Contradicting the claims from her side that they would put in stronger oversight in relief for corporations, Pelosi’s language was identical to the language in the Senate bill.

But what was different was dozens of new provisions handing out money and favors to special interest groups.

-Changes to election laws, including “risk limiting audits” of election results, national same day voter registration and mandatory state absentee voting.

-100% elimination of the U.S. Postal Service’s debt and gives USPS $20 billion for lost revenue.

– Corporate board diversity requirements for any company that receives stimulus help.

-Wind and solar tax credits.

-Cancels several Presidential executive orders and memorandums that are disliked by American labor unions.

-Requires companies that receive stimulus funds to implement a $15 minimum wage.

– Implements new carbon offset restrictions on airlines, a top Green New Deal goal.

– Special rules for minimum funding of retirement plans for community newspapers.

$35 million to the John F. Kennedy Center.

– $300 million for the National Endowment of the Arts.

– $300 million for the National Endowment of the Humanities.

– $100 million for NASA.

– $278 million for the IRS.

– Makes many other changes to the provisions of the Senate bill, which may have been negotiable in the House without the introduction of a separate bill.

The Pelosi bill, according to Axios, has a price tag of $2.5 trillion, about $500 billion more than the Senate bill.

As of Tuesday morning, negotiators had yet to reach an agreement on the deal, even as the United States stock market shows increasing volatility amid growing uncertainty on the deal.

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