News & Politics

Pelosi's Obstruction Fails Again as Trump Signs Small Business Relief Amid Coronavirus Crisis

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed a measure to add $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, a popular small business relief effort amid the coronavirus crisis. By April 9, it was clear the popular program would run out of money, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stalled efforts to replenish it, seemingly for “leverage” to push liberal pet projects. She had pulled something similar with the original $2 trillion stimulus bill passed last month, stalling the measure while presenting her own alternative, jampacked with wish-list items.

After weeks of stalling and interviews with designer ice cream, Pelosi finally agreed to support the measure, and President Donald Trump signed it on Friday. The bill allocates an extra $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for coronavirus testing.

The administration is already turning to a fourth potential package, focused on an infrastructure plan to build 5G capability, a payroll tax cut, and providing incentives for companies to bring back the manufacturing of personal protective equipment, drugs, and other critical infrastructure from China.

Politico reported that “despite temporary bouts of gridlock this spring, Congress has delivered nearly $3 trillion against the pandemic in an unprecedented, bipartisan rescue effort.” Even that limited cooperation may be coming to an end, however.

“I do worry that the political honeymoon may be ending,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told Politico in remarks the outlet lifted for the headline.

Pelosi’s shenanigans have hardly represented a “honeymoon.”

“We just watched in the last week 3.28 million people laid off. And yet for days, Democrats stalled this bill,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said as the $2 trillion stimulus finally passed last month. Ultimately, Pelosi caved and went back to supporting the original Senate bill, which had been drafted after negotiations between Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), McCarthy, and none other than Pelosi herself.

The Paycheck Protection Program stalling was much more egregious. As millions of Americans were losing their jobs, Pelosi extended the House of Representatives vacation. For weeks, her party blocked the legislation to add $250 billion to the program.

Why did Democrats delay? Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) explained it rather succinctly in a virtual press conference. “I think what you’re hearing from all of us on the call is that we have real concerns about giving away leverage now without getting some of the priorities that we need,” she said.

Huh. What are the “priorities” that Democrats “need”? Why, “structural” reforms to American law, of course! After all, last month, Democrats stalled the $2 trillion stimulus bill and presented their own alternative version jam-packed with pet projects like Green New Deal-style energy regulations on airlines, collective bargaining for unions, a $15/hour minimum wage, and sixty pages on elections.

As the $2 trillion stimulus bill went forward, Republicans tried to stop a “drafting error” that increased unemployment benefits by $600/week — effectively paying workers more not to work than to work. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) threatened to torpedo the whole bill if that measure wasn’t preserved. The extra $600 passed — and employers are having trouble convincing their temporarily laid-off employees to return to work. Whoops!

By the way, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is on board with stalling coronavirus relief in order to push these projects. He has called the coronavirus crisis a “wake up call” for climate change (WHAT?), and an “opportunity” for “institutional changes.” When Pelosi stalled back in March, Biden supported her act of obstruction.

Naturally, Pelosi attempted to blame the delay on those dastardly Republicans. This smacked of New York Times-style revisionism.

Last month, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told his fellow Democrats, “This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

Some “political honeymoon.”

That said, Democrats are likely to put up more of a sustained fight when it comes to other priorities. Expect more cries of “racist!” as the White House and other Republicans try to get businesses to bring back health care manufacturing from China. It is truly disturbing how reliant America’s medical supply chain is on Beijing, especially considering the Chinese Communist Pary’s lies that enabled the spread of the coronavirus.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who has asked Attorney General William Barr to sue China for its malfeasance that enabled the pandemic, tweeted an “invoice” to the Chinese Communist Party. He tallied up the four coronavirus relief packages and kindly asked Beijing to pony up $2.81 trillion.

China won’t pay up without a fight, and Democrats have shown they won’t support commonsense relief without a few Green New Deal regulations thrown in.

Pelosi’s gambits failed this time, but Americans need to remember them in November.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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