House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., defended her caucus' push for a sweeping alternative to Senate Republicans' coronavirus relief package, arguing that “everything we are suggesting just relates to COVID-19.”
Republicans have accused Democrats of exploiting the coronavirus crisis in order to push their policy agenda. House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., reportedly told members of the House Democratic caucus last week that the coronavirus crisis represented “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”
But on Tuesday, Pelosi told CNN anchor Dana Bash that the House bill's provisions weren't about "changing policy."
In response, Bash cited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's complaint that House Democrats were seeking to ram through policies on their "wish list."
“For example, they say that you asked for imposing new emission standards and carbon offsets on airlines, which is something that is in the Democratic wheelhouse," Bash said. "That's something that you would want in a perfect world, but not appropriate today. What's your response?”
Pelosi replied: "Well, I do think that there is a whole concern in our country that if we're giving tens of billions of dollars to the airlines, we could at least have a shared value about what happens to the environment."
She added that McConnell, R-Ky., was using the emissions argument as "an excuse."
"Some of the other issues like not fully extending family and medical leave, not funding food stamps ... but they're issues that are central to the well-being of America's families."
Democrats' coronavirus proposal reportedly includes other measures such as repealing Trump's executive orders on unionization, forgiving $10,000 of student debt, implementing mandatory early voting and same-day voter registration, and requiring that any company receiving federal relief raise their minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas previously spoke from the Senate floor, railing against what he described as a Democratic attempt to exploit the crisis.
"'Never let a good crisis go to waste,'" Cruz said, quoting former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "Sadly we're seeing the embodiment of that cynical approach right now ... What are they pushing for? Changing the emissions standards on airplanes. Mr. President, what the hell do the emissions standards on airplanes have to do with thousands of people dying and millions of people out of work in the coronavirus epidemic?"
Cruz pointed out that while he would like to do things like abolish the Internal Revenue Service but wasn't including that measure in a coronavirus package.