Graham slams Pelosi, says she held up coronavirus aid to add ‘liberal special-interest shopping list’
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In an exclusive interview on “Sunday Morning Futures,” Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments “disgusting,” referring to her claims that President Trump had denied the seriousness of the coronavirus and delayed ramping up the federal government’s response, what she called a “deadly” mistake.
“His denial at the beginning was deadly, his delaying of getting equipment… to where it is needed is deadly, and now the best thing would be to do is to prevent more loss of life, rather than open things up so that, because we just don’t know,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“She said she’s blaming the president of the United States for people dying because of the way he’s led the country,” Graham told Maria Bartiromo on Sunday. “That’s the most shameful, disgusting statement by any politician in modern history.”
He added, “This is the same speaker of the House who held up the bill in the Senate for days because she wanted same-day voting, she wanted carbon neutrality for the airlines, she wanted $75 million for the endowment for the humanities and $25 million for the Kennedy Center.”
Graham continued, “She is the one that held up the package in the Senate for days to get the Green New Deal put in a recovery package, so it’s the most shameful, disgusting thing I’ve heard yet, and it needs to stop.”
Pelosi also claimed Trump suggested he would relax federal guidelines on business closures and social distancing in some parts of the country, arguing that the U.S. “should be taking every precaution” and questioning whether Trump was listening to public health officials’ suggestions.
“As the president fiddles, people are dying. We just have to take every precaution,” she added.
Pelosi’s comments came after the president repeatedly said last week that he wanted to open the country back up as soon as possible.
On Friday, Trump signed the massive legislative package to combat the coronavirus pandemic and send economic relief to workers and businesses squeezed by restrictions meant to stop the outbreak’s spread. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly had approved the legislation earlier in the day.
Graham told Bartiromo, “We took most of the garbage out, but for [Pelosi] to blame this president for causing loss of life after she held up the relief package for days to get a liberal special-interest shopping list in the bill is pretty disgusting.”
The legislation, approved by voice vote despite 11th-hour drama arising from a GOP lawmaker’s concerns, has amounted to the costliest stimulus plan in U.S. history. It included checks for most Americans and provided unemployment aid, help for small businesses and a massive loan fund for corporations – at a time when unemployment has been surging at a record pace, a consequence of businesses closing in compliance with social-distancing guidelines.
On Sunday, Graham also explained why he had a problem with what he called a loophole regarding unemployment benefits in the aid package. According to the legislation, unemployment insurance would be far more generous, with $600 per week tacked onto regular state jobless payments through the end of July.
“If you make $15 an hour for a 40-hour week, that’s $600 a week,” Graham said. “My goal was to make sure that in the unemployment part of the package, we made you whole, that you were laid off, no fault to your own, you’d get $600 a week.”
“We increased your pay by 50 percent,” he noted. “That’s going to make it harder to get people back into the workforce, it’s going to incentivize people not to go back into the workforce and it’s going to make it harder for people to hire new employees.”
He went on to say that the stimulus package just added $600 for an unemployed person, meaning: “We took a $15-an-hour employee who was making $600 working, we’re going to pay them $926 in South Carolina not to work.”
Graham continued, “We have got to fix that, some smart person needs to develop software that can pay your actual wages, not increase your wages in unemployment.”
Fox News’ Andrew O’ Reilly, Marisa Schultz and Chad Pergram, Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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