House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cast doubt on coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and blamed the deadlock in negotiations on the next coronavirus relief bill on the President Donald Trump and Republicans, as federal unemployment benefits expire for 30 million Americans.
“He’s the one who is standing in the way of that,” she said of Trump on ABC’s “This Week. “We have been for the $600, they have a $200 proposal, which does not meet the needs of America’s working families.”
In response to a Politico report that she told Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that Birx was “the worst” in a closed-door meeting on Friday, Pelosi told “This Week” Co-anchor Martha Raddatz, “I think the president is spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his appointee, so I don’t have confidence there.”
Pelosi said that a “strategic” plan for defeating the coronavirus was a sticking point in the negotiations.
Speaking to reporters, Pelosi said Saturday’s negotiations were “productive in terms of moving things forward.”
When Raddatz asked on Sunday when Americans could expect to see a deal, Pelosi said, “well the fact is we will be close to an agreement, when we have an agreement.”
At the center of the standoff is the future of the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit that expired Friday. Republicans have proposed a $200 per week extension — arguing that the increased assistance disincentivized some employees from returning to work — but Democrats are seeking to continue the $600 supplement until at least January.
Pelosi responded to comments from colleague House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who told CNN on Tuesday “it’s not $600 or bust.”
“The amount of money that is given as an enhancement for unemployment insurance should relate to the rate of unemployment,” she said. “So when that goes down, then you can consider something less than the $600, but in this agreement it’s $600.”
The GOP floated their plan on Friday to give Americans one more week at the $600 rate, but it was dismissed by Democrats as a political stunt. The party continues to criticize Senate Republicans for waiting to consider additional assistance until the last-minute, while House Democrats addressed the issue in a bill passed two months ago.
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., continued to negotiate with Trump administration officials over the weekend, following nearly a week of unproductive meetings. Emerging from a three-hour-long session on Saturday, both sides characterized the discussion as the most productive yet.
“We have to get rid of this virus so that we can open our economy and safely open our schools and to do so in a way that does not give any cut in benefits to America’s workers,” Pelosi said, while still acknowledging that they clashed over reducing assistance.
This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.
What to know about the coronavirus:
Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.