Mitch McConnell to Pelosi: ‘Stand Down’; We’re Not ‘Taking Advantage of the Crisis’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined by Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., left, and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, tells reporters he has secured enough Republican votes to start President Donald Trump's impeachment trial and postpone a decision on witnesses and documents Democrats want, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday …
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to “stand down” as she prepares to position Democrats to use the next economic relief bill to pursue progressive agenda items, also warning Republicans that she is “looking for a way to jam us.”

“She needs to stand down on the notion that we’re going to go along with taking advantage of the crisis to do things that are unrelated to the crisis,” McConnell said during an interview with the Washington Post this week.

Pelosi has signaled a desire to move quickly to the next stage of economic relief. The newfound sense of urgency follows Democrats delaying the recently passed $2 trillion emergency relief package to pursue their own version filled with a host of progressive pet projects like ballot harvesting and Green New Deal initiatives.

While Democrats lost that battle, Pelosi is gearing up, eagerly anticipating the next phase of relief and using the severity of the coronavirus pandemic as her catalyst.

“The victims of the coronavirus pandemic cannot wait,” Pelosi said in a statement. “It is moving faster than the leader may have suspected, and even he has said that some things should wait for the next bill.”

“I hope that we can work in a four corners manner for the common good,” she added.

While McConnell remains open to bipartisan discussions and solutions, he reemphasized that Pelosi’s first proposal remains a nonstarter moving forward and effectively warned the GOP that Pelosi is “looking for a way to jam us.”

According to the Post:

Beyond infrastructure, Pelosi has also pushed this week to include a repeal of the cap on state and local tax deductions as part of upcoming legislation, which its supporters say would help Americans who pay tens of thousands of dollars each year. The Republican-authored 2017 tax law capped the amount that households could deduct at $10,000.

“That’s an example of something that has nothing to do with the pandemic,” McConnell said, pledging to oppose the idea in the weeks ahead. “What’s really happening here is, she’s looking for a way to jam us.”

Pelosi has publicly admitted she is looking to pack the next phase of relief with agenda items that have little to do with the crisis at hand, including changes to the way the U.S. conducts elections — a longterm goal Democrats have continued to slowly chip away at over the years.

“In terms of the elections, I think that we’ll probably be moving to vote by mail,” Pelosi said during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Tuesday.

“That’s why we wanted to have more resources in this third bill that just was signed by the president to get those resources to the states to facilitate the reality of life that we are going to have to have more vote by mail,” she continued.

The majority leader is already rejecting those suggestions — particularly the Democrats’ desire for election changes.

“For goodness sake, I’ve got a list, too,” McConnell told the Post.

“How about national right to work? How about Davis-Bacon reform? How about ending junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals? You get the drift,” he said. “We both have agendas we’d like to see pass — and can’t pass in this current environment.”

McConnell also addressed the mounting questions over the GOP and its on-paper stance of fiscal responsibility. While he described “ideological mooring” as “important,” he stressed that “there are times when you throw ideology out the window and attack, in a very pragmatic and aggressive way, unanticipated problems.”

“And this is the biggest unanticipated problem I’ve ever seen,” he said.

“I was thinking about it with this eerie feeling descending over the country, of the fear that every mother had, according to my mother, of sending their kids out to play in the summer,” the majority leader, who contracted polio at the age of two, said.

“We do have to be mindful of how to pay for it. There has been a lot of fantasizing on both sides about massive packages,” McConnell told the Post. “We’d all love to do it, but there is the reality of how you pay for it.”

“We just passed a $2 trillion bill, and it would take a lot of convincing to convince me that we should do transportation in a way that’s not credibly paid for after what we just passed last week,” he added.


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