House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is currently preoccupied with taking a victory lap after narrowly retaining her once-powerful House majority in the November election.
However, as the nation heads towards the new year, Pelosi’s refusal to pass any meaningful COVID-19 relief is coming back to bite her. Powerful GOP leaders have once again begun pressuring Pelosi to agree to a small business relief deal as new COVID-19 restrictions loom.
This time around, Pelosi doesn’t have nearly as much leverage as in months past, as Democrats will hold the majority by only a few seats when the 117th Congress reconvenes in the new year.
Pelosi’s resistance to striking a deal has turned many moderate Democrats off, increasing the odds that they will cross the aisle and support a GOP proposal to provide relief to suffering Americans. A number of powerful House Republicans have raised calls for Pelosi to release funds waiting to be distributed to suffering American businesses.
Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA) charged Pelosi via Twitter on Monday: “When talking about targeted relief, nothing has been more effective than the Paycheck Protection Program. It is astonishing that Speaker Pelosi continues to hold up #PPP funds at a time when American families and small businesses need our help.”
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) exposed Pelosi’s callous decision to hold Americans hostage to achieve partisan goals the same day:
For months $138 BILLION in aid for workers/small businesses has just been sitting there unused because Pelosi is blocking it to play politics. Republicans stand ready to re-open the Paycheck Protection Program.
GOP Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) also called on Pelosi to act quickly to agree to the distribution of millions in already-earmarked funds to American small businesses:
For over 100 days, $138 billion of unused Paycheck Protection Program funds have been sitting untouched because Democrats have been playing partisan politics. Enough is enough. It’s time to re-open the #PPP and get much-needed relief out the door to American small businesses.
For months, Pelosi has refused to consider any relief that does not meet her $2.2 trillion threshold — causing strife even within the Democrat party. Moderate Democrats have pressed Pelosi for months to compromise with GOP leaders or approve piecemeal legislation — but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
Even House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) signaled hope that Pelosi may back down, telling CQ-Roll Call in a recent interview: “I just hope that we can get agreement. It may not be everything that everybody wants but at least if we can get some significant relief to people. And then we’re going to be here next year. If we need to do other things, we’ll do other things.”
Other critical COVID-19 relief programs are slated to run out of funds before the end of the year, and Pelosi will face the difficult decision whether or not to cooperate with GOP leaders and the White House on extending protections such as eviction moratoriums and delays of student loan payments keeping the US economy afloat as well.