Those centrist members, including members of the New Democrats Coalition or the Blue Dogs Coalition, have stepped up their calls both publicly and privately to vote on additional coronavirus relief bills.
Some, led by the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, have drafted their own long-shot compromise in an attempt to pry loose some kind of deal before November.
That group released a roughly $2 trillion plan on Tuesday that would renew now-expired programs like unemployment aid and small business loans, though it also includes billions in spending that Senate Republicans have already rejected, like cash for state and local governments or the U.S. Postal Service. Pelosi has indicated she would negotiate a $2.4 trillion package with Republicans but hasn’t been open to going below that number.
Pelosi didn’t address the Problem Solvers plan during Tuesday’s call, instead mostly defending her decision to hold out for a larger deal despite Republicans refusal to negotiate one thus far. Some of Pelosi’s allies, including House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), defended the strategy.
“For us, not to cave in is really important,” Neal said on the call, according to Democrats who dialed in.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) also spoke in favor of Pelosi’s plan, telling colleagues to “lean in and support the speaker’s position.”
“Stay the course,” Maloney continued. “We are in the right place on this, and we will get a negotiation that is better for your local competitive you know areas and in these Trump districts for a bunch of reasons.”
But not everyone was in agreement.
House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said it was clear Democrats would have to address the coronavirus again before going home for the election, noting it’s been four months since the House passed its $3.4 trillion relief bill that went nowhere in the Senate.
“We can’t leave town without a package,” DeFazio said. “We need to talk about all of our principles in a five month bill.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the No. 2 House Democrat, has also been vocal about passing some kind of new coronavirus deal ahead of the critical final weeks before the election.
Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Wash.), who flipped a GOP district in 2018, also pushed for a more targeted coronavirus bill during the caucus call.
“I think there’s a place here for us to have some sort of tailored down bill to get us to January 21 when we have a new president,” Schrier said, according to Democrats on the call. “That shows the American people where we stand and makes us look like the adults in the room.”