“A WEAK PERSON…TAKES NO RESPONSIBILITY”
by Sharon Rondeau
Pelosi began speaking at 12:23 p.m. EDT and expressed support for small businesses, stating that the decision to launch one is more consequential than “getting married.”
Pelosi assured listeners that Democrats support small businesses and are willing to agree to additional funds under certain conditions.
Democrats wish to provide funds for “minority businesses” as well as for hospitals and state and local governments, which are not taking in the customary revenue from sales and other taxes due to the coronavirus shutdown.
Pelosi said she envisions a “CARES II” as opposed to simply agreeing to appropriate more to the original CARES bill for its Payroll Protection Program element for small businesses, which she called “the lifeblood” of the economy.
She accused President Trump of initially terming the coronavirus “a hoax” and said that currently, inadequate testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) at hospitals have caused “death and suffering.”
“A weak person…takes no responsibility,” she said of Trump.
Funds for the Paycheck Protection Program generated by the first CARES Act expired today, multiple sources reported. The funds have provided the ability of small businesses shuttered from the pandemic to maintain employees on their payrolls until they can reopen.
The CARES Act provided funding for hospitals and nursing homes but not for state governments.
Pelosi spoke for approximately seven minutes, then opened up the forum to reporters’ questions. The first question concerned whether or not remote voting might be adopted by Congress in the wake of social-distancing mandates.
“What are the options, the Constitution, the rules of the House…Until we have an appropriate way to do it, we can’t do it,” Pelosi responded.
Later on Thursday, Pelosi said, the Democratic caucus will hold a meeting chaired by Rep. James McGovern to discuss remote voting and other issues. Pelosi said she is “not negative” about the idea.
She said that passing “CARES I” is an example of how Congress can work on a bipartisan basis and that certain technology must be put in place to enable “proxy voting.”
“When we’re ready, we will do it,” she said.
“People are dying,” Pelosi said, stressing that “testing, testing, testing, data collection on the disparities and how this is hitting different communities” is vital to determining how to open up the U.S. economy again.
She said Democrats wish to support “the entrepreneurship” of small-business owners as well as hospitals and state governments. “We don’t have any disagreement about wanting to help small businesses,” she said in response to a question from a New York Times reporter.
“The goal is to solve the challenge, solve the problems, get people back to work, including us…” she said, terming “a vaccine” “the real answer.”
“Social distancing” is “very effective” in slowing the spread of coronavirus, Pelosi said, necessitating the House to remain out of session until May 4. While Democrats “have the quorum” to return to Washington to vote on a number of measures, Pelosi said, she would like to have the support of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) and his caucus.
Republicans have accused Pelosi of unnecessarily delaying additional funds for small businesses which desperately need them and that more funds for other entities could be allocated later, a point raised by a reporter at 12:47 p.m. In response, Pelosi said that state governments are seeing “very little revenue” from sales taxes given the economic shutdown and require assistance. “It’s not that we don’t share the value of small business; we do,” she said, “but in order for them to succeed, people need to be well; people need to be safe, and we need to have the state and local.”
“We also need the other money” she said in response to Republican criticism of Democrats’ refusal to agree to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s provision of increasing the PPP by $250 billion last week.
Particularly after 12:50 p.m., there were gaps in Pelosi’s audio such that her responses were at times inaudible for several seconds.
A male reporter asked Pelosi her view of Trump’s stated intention to approve the reopening of certain state or local economies. “Testing, testing, testing is the way to unlock the door…” she said, and that any decisions should be “science-based.” “Good judgment is based on knowledge, and knowledge springs from testing, testing, testing, and [inaudible] that some communities are hit harder and [inaudible]…”
She said she “finds it frivolous” that some lives might be sacrificed so that the economy can reopen and that on Easter Sunday, she made a decision to “speak truth to power” regarding reopening the economy vs. potential deaths.
After several more gaps, at 12:57, she said, “Thank you very much” and the call was announced as ended.