Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday rejected a push by some House Democrats to vote this weekend on extending federal unemployment insurance payments that expired at the end of July, maintaining that it could undermine negotiations on other aspects of a coronavirus relief package.
More than 100 Democrats this week signed on to a letter spearheaded by Reps. Scott Peters (Calif.), Derek Kilmer (Wash.) and Don Beyer (Va.) that urged leadership to schedule a vote for Saturday on legislation to extend enhanced unemployment insurance on a time frame based on econometrics.
Pelosi said that she personally supports the idea of tying unemployment insurance payments to economic measures like the unemployment rate instead of allowing the benefits to expire on arbitrary dates. But she argued that voting on such a proposal at this stage could ultimately backfire in coronavirus relief negotiations.
"That's a very positive initiative. I have encouraged that, I have welcomed that suggestion," Pelosi said during an interview on "PBS NewsHour."
"I don't think strategically it's where we should go right now, because the Republicans would like to pass something like that and say forget about it," Pelosi continued. "Forget about state and local [government funding], forget about our investments in stopping the virus, forget about other initiatives that feed the food insecure children in our country, vote by mail initiatives and the rest."
Pelosi also warned that if the House were to pass a standalone bill to extend unemployment insurance, Senate Republicans could amend it and add "poison pills."
"I don't think it's done by giving them an out," Pelosi said of reaching a coronavirus aid deal with Republicans. "I think it's done by making them come into the negotiation."