Pelosi chafes at Wolf Blitzer’s questions on Covid talks
An interview between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer grew uncharacteristically tense on Tuesday as the California Democrat was pressed to explain why she had rejected the GOP’s latest coronavirus stimulus proposal.
Pelosi repeatedly defended her decision to continue negotiating with the White House — rather than accept the GOP’s recent $1.8 trillion offer, which top Democrats say falls hundreds of billions short in key areas — in the dwindling days before the election.
But Pelosi appeared to lose patience with Blitzer as he grilled her on why she wouldn’t accept at least some of the money — as some House Democrats have argued — and asked whether the reason is because President Donald Trump has demanded his name on stimulus checks that would be distributed to many Americans.
“With all due respect, you really don’t know what you’re talking about,” Pelosi told Blitzer, acknowledging that her Democratic chairs — who also came out against the GOP offer — stood behind her decision. “So do a service to the issue and have some level of respect for the people who have worked on these issues, written the bill to begin with.”
Blitzer then asked Pelosi about the pressure within the Democratic Party to accept a deal, citing comments from Democrats such as Rep. Ro Khanna of California or one-time presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who called on her to accept a deal. Others in her caucus, particularly centrists with tough reelection battles this fall, have spent weeks pushing for a compromise.
The two sides have gotten closer on some issues, such as small-business aid, a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks and testing money, but remain divided over issues like unemployment aid and state and local government funding. But Democrats also point out that they remain further apart on the bigger issues, such as lack of a strategic plan to defeat the virus nationwide.
Pelosi also pointed out to her members in a private call Tuesday that Trump himself has told Republicans to “go big or go home,” and the speaker said Democrats should do exactly that.
Speaking on CNN on Tuesday, Pelosi again dismissed the calls to accept the $1.8 trillion, as she had on a private caucus call earlier on Tuesday. House Democrats had initially passed a $3.4 trillion bill, and party leaders have refused to accept less than $2 trillion — a price tag Senate Republicans have rejected.
“I can’t get over it because Andrew Yang is lovely. Ro is lovely. But they are not negotiating this situation. They have no idea of the particulars. They have no idea of what the language is here,” Pelosi said, growing increasingly agitated after Blitzer interrupted her.
Blitzer then asked Pelosi why she wouldn’t call up Trump to seek out a better compromise.
“I don’t speak to the president,” Pelosi said.
“Why not call him? And say, let’s work out a deal. There are so many Americans in desperate need. Let’s make a deal,” Blitzer responded.
“What makes me amused if it weren’t so sad is how you all think that you know more about the suffering of the American people than those of us who are elected by them to represent them at that table,” Pelosi said.
Matthew Choi contributed to this report.