As the outcry for a second stimulus check builds to a fever pitch, some Democrats are reportedly pressuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to compromise with Republicans in the United States Senate. Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have stood firm on critical issues in the new stimulus package — particularly the $600 unemployment enhancement. However, as the stalemate drags on, some are ready to let demands go just to pass something.
The U.S. Congress has been battling it out for months to pass another stimulus package amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to a report by Forbes, the turned into a convoluted chess match earlier this month, with certain items of the bill tied together by legal conditions. At one point, Pelosi reportedly turned down an offer to temporarily extend the $600 unemployment enhancement by itself, while the rest of the bill was in the works. In her attempt to hold onto this bargaining chip, some believe Pelosi doomed the negotiations to a stand-still.
Pelosi reportedly refused this skinny bill, while also refusing to consider any unemployment enhancement that was less than $600 in the upcoming bill. Later, she declined yet another offer for a smaller, incremental stimulus bill, which would have included the $1,200 stimulus bill itself.
For the most part, Democrats have presented a united front through these debates, but that changed last week when Rep. Cindy Axne of Iowa published a letter to Pelosi, asking for a compromise. It begged her to "bring up a simplified, straightforward COVID-19 relief package," as Axne's "constituents and millions of others are relying on us to reach a deal that can deliver much-needed aid to those still under threat from COVID-19."
The letter does not ask Pelosi to agree to just any of the Republican demands, but it lists the bare minimum that Axne believes her constituents would be comfortable with. That includes extending some kind of reasonable unemployment benefit through the end of 2020, extending the eviction moratorium, funding the Payroll Protection Program, and passing another stimulus check. A few other items were included as well — mostly those that the Senate had already shown flexibility on.
While she was calling Pelosi out in a way, Axne expressed hope that Congress could "pass these measures in a COVID relief package in short order, further closing the gap of differences still to hammer out between our House Majority and the Administration."
Pelosi has received similar letters from other Democrats as well. A group of 117 representatives called the New Democratic Coalition reportedly sent a letter this week, while a group of 26 others called the Blue Dog Coalition sent one as well. Pelosi published her own letter thanking these Democrats for their input but said "we must consider" the "timing and strategic value" of their ideas.
Pelosi expanded on this idea in an interview with PBS NewsHour on Thursday, explaining her fear that Republicans would never agree to another stimulus bill of any kind after this one. She was not ready to give away too much ground on what she sees as her last chance.