House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is cracking the whip on Democrat House members, encouraging committee chairs to finish outlining their demands for the next coronavirus relief measure — a measure the Speaker has already signaled will feature Democrat Party agenda items like universal vote-by-mail.
“We have to think big,” Pelosi reportedly told her Democrat colleagues during a private call on Monday.
According to Politico, the Speaker pushed committee chairs to “finalize their portions” by “close of business Monday with hopes of pulling together a final package by week’s end, according to multiple Democratic lawmakers and aides.”
A timeline for the proposal has not been issued, as the House still has no firm date to return to Washington, DC.
Details of the measure, at this point, remain limited, but Democrats “privately admit the expansive legislation is more of a policy wishlist than anything,” Politico reported.
The coming legislation could be reminiscent of the 1,400 page pork-filled coronavirus relief proposal offered by Pelosi in March. That particular proposal contained party agenda items unrelated to the public health crisis. Democrats demanded increased fuel emission standards for airlines receiving funds, expansion of wind and solar tax credits, requirements for federal and corporate gender and racial diversity data, a bailout for the Post Office, restrictions on colleges from providing information about citizenship status, vote-by-mail and ballot harvesting, among other demands detailed by Breitbart News.
Politico added that Democrats hope to draft their legislation ahead of the Senate in order to establish the baseline for negotiations:
In the call on Monday, Pelosi stressed the “ethics” of the next relief package, saying Democrats were focusing on an “ethical approach to saving lives … to how this money is distributed … and to how drugs are administered,” according to sources on the call.
Last month, far-left members of the “Squad” — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) — urged Pelosi to provide a timeline for a Democrat-authored relief measure, which they hope includes universal cash assistance extended to non-citizens as well as major changes to U.S. election laws, angling for universal vote-by-mail.
President Trump on Sunday suggested that the next coronavirus relief measure should include a payroll tax cut. Pelosi quickly dismissed the idea, contending that it has nothing to do with the coronavirus — an ironic statement given her previous attempt to pack her version of the CARES Act with Green New Deal initiatives.
She told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday:
First of all, this is all to be related to the coronavirus. We have enormous, enormous costs, much of it incurred because the president was in denial early on, delayed a reaction to it, caused deaths. And so, now, we want to say, okay, that was then. Alright, let’s start now and do things in a positive way. Nobody’s putting anything on the table saying, unless we have this, we’re not doing that. He shouldn’t either.
The Democrats’ purported intention to fill the next relief bill with party agenda items contrasts with remarks the Speaker made in early April.
“We’ve had three bills that have been bipartisan. I think right now we need a fourth bipartisan bill. And I think the bill could be very much like the bill we just passed,” Pelosi told CNBC last month.
“I’m very much in favor of doing some of the things that we need to do to meet the needs of clean water, more broadband, and the rest of that. That may have to be for a bill beyond this,” she continued, praising the bipartisan $2 trillion CARES Act but adding that it was “not enough.”
However, Pelosi did not relent on her party’s push for universal vote by mail, calling it “essential to protecting the future of our democracy as we confront this public health crisis.”
“There is no legitimate argument against enacting it,” she added on social media.