Representative Katherine Clark of Melrose criticized Republican House leaders Thursday for opposing the coronavirus aid package unveiled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“These are not partisan issues. This is about coming together to protect the security and the wellbeing of the American people,” Clark, a member of Pelosi’s leadership team, said in a phone interview with the Globe from Washington.
Reacting to comments by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, who via Twitter called Pelosi’s package “completely partisan” and “unworkable,” Clark said Republican leaders were sending "a dangerous message to the American people that they are not willing to come together in this time and work for them. It is not only frustrating and disheartening, it is dangerous policy.”
The multi-billion-dollar aid package from Democrats, unveiled late Wednesday by Pelosi, would create a new federal sick pay program and more unemployment insurance and food aid for workers and other Americans hit by the crisis, and it would direct health insurance companies to provide free testing for the virus, among other elements.
Under the package’s new federal sick pay program, those stricken or caring for those ill from the virus would get up to three months of partial pay.
“These are the priorities that we need to pass in order to respond to the rapidly changing needs of the American people. We know that this is going to be a major disruption, and we want the American people to be prepared but not to panic. It is so dangerous and just incredible to me that the so-called leaders of the Republican party in the House can’t see this," Clark said.
She said discussions continue on how to ensure the package makes it to President Trump’s desk and urged the Senate to support the legislation.
“We have already wasted way too much time on a slow response” to the mounting health crisis from this administration, she said.
Pelosi continues to negotiate with the Trump administration over details of the package, and indicated to reporters that the House would move forward with legislation.
“We’re here to pass a bill. When we pass a bill we will make a judgment on what comes next,” Pelosi told reporters. She gave no indication that she would keep Congress in session past Thursday, declining to comment on “travel arrangements.”
Senate Majority Leaders Mitch McConnell and Trump also publicly criticized the package Thursday.
“There are things in there that have nothing to do with what we’re talking about,” Trump told reporters during an appearance with the Irish prime minister. “So, it’s not a way for them to get some of the goodies that they haven’t been able to get for the last 25 years.”
Asked for her reaction to Trump’s Oval Office address Wednesday night, Clark said anytime a president needs to be “fact checked” while addressing a pandemic and economic crisis "is not sending that message of confidence that we need.”
She said Trump “needs to stop playing this out like we’re in a reality TV show … and instead realize that he has tremendous levers at his disposal that can help the American people stay healthy and safe.”
Material from the Associated Press and Bloomberg was used in this report.