Politics & Policy

‘Taking Hostages’: Sasse Slams Pelosi for Adding ‘Liberal Wish List’ to Coronavirus Bill

Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) on Capitol Hill in 2018 (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) for hijacking Senate negotiations over a phase-three economic relief package with an “ideologically-driven wish list” of Democratic policies unrelated to coronavirus.

Pelosi’s 1,404 page bill, introduced Monday after the House Speaker returned to Washington D.C. on Sunday, includes numerous provisions that Sasse labeled “a ton of crap that has absolutely nothing to do with the public health emergency that we face at this moment.”

“Instead of taking that legislation — urgent, necessary legislation — and passing it quickly, Democrats have now decided to allow Speaker Pelosi to block it through proxies here in the Senate so that she can rewrite the bill with a ton of crap that has absolutely nothing to do with the public health emergency that we face at this moment,” Sasse stated in a speech on the Senate floor Monday night.

Republicans have accused Pelosi of ruining days of productive negotiations in the Senate over the trillion-dollar package that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) introduced last week, after Majority Whip James Clyburn (D., S.C.) told House Democrats last week that the bill was “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

On Monday, McConnell stated that “Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the green New Deal,” while Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) called the tactics “disgraceful” and “dangerous to the lives of our people and their economic well-being.”

In making the case that Democrats are more concerned about unrelated legislative priorities than the health of the economy, Sasse pointed to Pelosi’s “liberal wish list,” which includes mandatory diversity reports on corporate boards, requiring same-day voter registration in all 50 states, a bailout of the U.S. Postal Service, establishing a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and new environmental regulations for airlines.

“We’ve got families that are suffering,” Sasse said. “We’ve got small businesses that are closing literally by the hour. We have doctors fighting to prevent their hospitals from being overwhelmed. And what does Speaker Pelosi try to do? She’s trying to take hostages about her dream legislation, all sorts of dream legislative provisions that have nothing to do with this moment and say the American public can’t get access to the public health piece of legislation or the economic relief pieces of legislation unless she gets hostages that are entirely unrelated to this moment.”

Sasse slammed Pelosi for trying to smuggle pro-choice funding into the House’s phase-two coronavirus stimulus package earlier this month. “We need to be ramping up our diagnostic testing, not waging culture wars at the behest of Planned Parenthood. Good grief,” Sasse said at the time.

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