House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cautioned President Donald Trump against reopening the country too quickly and suggested the House of Representatives might not return to Washington, D.C. at the end of April as originally planned as the coronavirus pandemic continued to spiral.
In a Thursday interview with Politico, when asked if she was worried about Trump moving to reopen the country too early, Pelosi said, “I would hope that the scientific community would weigh in and say, ‘You can’t do this, it is only going to make matters worse if you go out too soon.’”
To reopen the country, Pelosi, said, several factors would need to be considered, such as widespread testing and safety standards in workplaces.
“We have to know. It’s data. And that’s something that I haven’t seen as the basis for any decision making. In fact, I’ve seen the opposite,” she said.
Golf, handshakes and Mar-a-Lago conga line:Squandered week highlights Trump’s lack of COVID-19 focus
Top Trump administration officials have suggested this week that parts of the country and the economy could reopen by May. In a Wednesday interview with Fox News, Attorney General William Barr said the coronavirus mitigation measures were “draconian” and should be reevaluated at the end of the month.
And Thursday, on CNBC, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested parts of the economy could reopen by May “as soon as the president feels comfortable with the medical issues.”
Asked in Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing what criteria might be used to reopen the government and the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters, “it really varies differently. So I don’t think there’s one medical criteria.” He noted that reopening a huge metropolitan area like New York City would be different from that of a town in the Midwest or in the mountain regions.
Asked if the House of Representatives should reconvene on April 20, the current date set for their return, Pelosi said, “Nobody can really tell you that and I would never venture a guess. I certainly don’t think we should do it sooner than we should,”
Members of Congress have been reluctant to come back to Washington as several members of Congress have tested positive for the coronavirus. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., tested positive Thursday, becoming the sixth member to test positive.
Pelosi also got in a jab at Trump and his often-lengthy coronavirus briefings, telling Politico the limited amount of time she had with her “day job” was “not to watch the president contradict himself on TV.”
“I don’t watch them. I sometimes see inadvertently or just by accident some of the news reporting on it,” Pelosi said of the briefings, which sometimes stretch for more than two hours. “But I just don’t have time for that, I am a busy person.”
Pelosi also said negotiations over additional funding for small business lending would be paused for the Easter holiday this coming weekend.
“We have put our marker down for a negotiation,” Pelosi said.
On Thursday, Senate Democrats blocked an attempt to pass an additional $250 billion for small business lending. The White House and Senate Republicans wanted to replenish the funding without any additional provisions, whereas Democrats want to allocate some of the small business funding for women and minority-owned businesses, as well as include additional money for hospitals and state and local governments.