Pelosi: The country’s 'needs have only grown' since passage of $3.4 trillion stimulus in May

"We shouldn't be going down, because we have these needs," the Speaker said. "Why can't we spend what it takes to shore up the middle class?"

Updated: September 17, 2020 - 11:33pm

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With bipartisan agreement on another COVID-19 economic stimulus package still elusive, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that the country's "needs have only grown" since the Democrat-led House passed the largest stimulus package in U.S. history, the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act, on May 15.

"We have compromised," she said on Thursday at a press conference. "We came down a trillion dollars. We asked them to go up a trillion dollars. Instead, they went down, not recognizing the need. We then, Mr. Schumer and I, further went down and said we'll meet you halfway, and here we are. Since that time, though, my members will attest, the needs have only grown since May 15."

The Republican-led Senate tried to pass a smaller-scale stimulus bill last week, but the Democrats blocked it during a procedural vote.

In the absence of bipartisan agreement on a new deal between the House, Senate and White House, Pelosi has continued to tout the benefits of the HEROES Act. The bill extended the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit through Jan. 31. The legislation included $1 trillion for state and local governments, as well as another round of $1,200 stimulus payments. Undocumented immigrants who filed tax returns with tax ID numbers in place of Social Security numbers would qualify for two rounds of stimulus payments under the bill.

"We shouldn't be going down, because we have these needs," she said. "Why can't we spend what it takes to shore up the middle class in our country?"

Pelosi added that it's "hard to see how we can go any lower when you only have greater needs."

On Wednesday, the California Democrat vowed to keep the House in session until a deal is reached.

Negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders over the next package have stalled. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy argued that Pelosi is preventing negotiators from reaching a bipartisan agreement on the next package.

"She cares more about the politics than she does about the people, and that's unfortunate," the California Republican said Tuesday at a press conference on Capitol Hill.

McCarthy said the negotiations on another stimulus bill shouldn't begin with the total amount of the package.

"I know what this country needs," he said. "We don't need to start with a number. We need to start by working."