Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told Politico Friday that she is considering keeping the House of Representatives out of session longer than the April 20th return-from-recess date, and may not bring Congress back until well into May — and she’s warned President Donald Trump to keep the country under lockdown even longer.
Pelosi is drafting a fourth coronavirus relief package, to be introduced when Congress returns from recess in the spring, but it now appears that trillion dollar aid bill will be indefinitely delayed while she holds her chamber in recess.
Pelosi “signaled Thursday that the House is unlikely to return to session later this month, her clearest indication yet that Congress — like the rest of the country — could remain shuttered for weeks or even longer as the coronavirus crisis continues,” according to Politico.
She also had harsh words for President Trump who has, reportedly, begun the process of convening a second coronavirus task force, this one charged with plotting a course to reopen the country and restart the economy. Trump has said before that he hopes to roll out a plan to lift coronavirus-related lockdowns as early as May first, subject to the advice of several of his top healthcare experts.
“Hopefully we’re going to be opening up …. very, very, very, very soon, I hope,” Trump said Thursday during his daily coronavirus briefing. “We’re going to open up strong, very successfully and I’d like to say even more successfully than before.”
Pelosi wants the country in economic lockdown much longer, she told Politico.
“Nobody can really tell you that and I would never venture a guess. I certainly don’t think we should do it sooner than we should,” Pelosi said. “This has taken an acceleration from when we started this. Little did we know then that at this point, we’d be further confined.”
She also suggested that Trump’s advisors rein the president in if he moves too quickly to restore economic function: “I would hope that the scientific community would weigh in and say, ‘You can’t do this, it is only going to make matters worse if you go out too soon.’”
That’s an odd statement, given that Pelosi and others were still at work even as states declared full lockdowns to prevent or slow the spread of coronavirus. The $2.2 trillion CARES Act — the third coronavirus relief package — was passed just before Congress left Washington, D.C., for their spring recess.
On Thursday, Pelosi, who now says there will be little more than a skeleton crew of Federal legislators in Washington until at least May, stood in the way of an emergency relief bill that would have added $350 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, a small business relief fund that is swifly running out of cash.
She implied, in her speeches Thursday afternoon, that she wanted the bill brought before the full House and Senate rather than passed by unanimous consent — something that can’t happen unless Pelosi gets all of her own members on the same page and in the same room. Small business owners may now have to wait for months to see additional relief funds.