Hoyer Vows House Members Won’t Leave DC Without Relief Bill Deal

July 31, 2020 by Dan McCue
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., vowed Friday that members will not leave the nation’s capital until there’s a deal on a new coronavirus relief package.

Speaking on the House floor, Hoyer said, “We will not start the August district work period until we pass appropriate COVID-19 relief to meet the current health and economic crisis confronting our people and our country.”

As a result of lawmakers’ inability to strike a deal on a new round of coronavirus aid, a supplemental $600 in weekly federal unemployment benefits is set to expire at midnight.

Also set to end, unless lawmakers intervene, is a federal moratorium on evictions that has shielded millions of renters — though some Americans remain protected by similar state and local actions.

Throughout the day on Friday, both sides in the negotiation accused the other of playing politics during the ongoing negotiations over the relief bill.

At the White House, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said he and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made four different offers to the Democrats that were rejected without the offer of a counterproposal.

“The Democrats believe that they have all the cards on their side, and they’re willing to play those cards at the expense of those that are hurting,” Meadows said.

Later, during her weekly briefing with reporters on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Meadows, the White House and Senate Republicans were projecting their own internal dysfunction onto the Democrats.

“Every time they say something, I say, ‘Perhaps you are characterizing yourself and think that that’s how we are,'” Pelosi said. “We’re not. We’re here. This is serious. This is life-and-death.”

She also noted that the House approved a Democratic proposal to provide $3 trillion in coronavirus relief in May and has been waiting to make a deal with the White House and Senate ever since.

At the time, Pelosi called the relief package, which passed by a vote of 208-199, largely along party lines, “a very strategically planned piece of legislation that is tailored strictly to meet the needs of the American people regarding the coronavirus pandemic.”

“To do anything less would not be responsible,” Pelosi said.

Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the Senate’s $1 trillion relief package proposal, but it immediately drew fire from members of his own party, undermining the unified negotiating stance the administration wanted to present to the House.

Speaking on the House floor Friday, Hoyer gave no indication how long he thinks negotiations will drag on.

“Members are further advised as conversations surrounding [additional] coronavirus relief legislation continue, it is expected the House will meet during the month of August,” he said. “No one should schedule themselves for next week or until such time as we adopt COVID-19 legislation.” 

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