Maybe, just maybe, Nancy Pelosi should have already recalled them after the Senate reached agreement on the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Tuesday. Last night, the House Speaker told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Steny Hoyer would need to order the House back into session, but that 24-hour notice wouldn’t be given until the Senate passed the bill. That means that the House can’t pass it until at least Friday afternoon, perhaps spilling over into the weekend, depending on just how many attempts there are to derail it.
One thing’s for sure, Pelosi conceded — her original plan for unanimous consent in a near-empty chamber won’t work, thanks to pledges of objections from Justin Amash and others:
Much was made of the House’s short two-minute session yesterday morning, but that was akin to ripping Mitch McConnell for not taking up a bill that the House hadn’t yet finished. The House had no other business yesterday, because the Senate hadn’t finished its work yet. However, when the House gavels into session today, they will have a bill — but won’t have a quorum to process it. There’s no excuse for that, especially given the emergency nature of the bill itself, and Pelosi’s own attempts to hype it in order to get her hobby-horse agenda attached to it.
The takeaway from this interview, however, is that Pelosi belatedly grasped the political realities yesterday of further obstruction. Even before the bill passed unanimously in the Senate, Pelosi realized that she had no choice but to get behind it, thanks to Chuck Schumer’s all-in agreement on it. After first sniffing that the House would have to take the agreement under consideration, Pelosi got enough blowback to start telling her caucus that they had to focus on the good aspects of the bill for now.
In part, she did that by promising more legislation to cover her progressive wish list. Pelosi told Blitzer that the House will pass the bill and then turn its attention from “emergency” and “mitigation” to “recovery.” Pelosi also told PBS yesterday that a Phase 4 bill on the coronavirus pandemic would begin shortly:
As lawmakers struggle to finish what they’ve dubbed “phase three” of their response to the coronavirus pandemic, a $2 trillion stimulus bill, there was already disagreement among congressional leaders on the need for a phase four or more.
“This is not going to be the last bill,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the “PBS Newshour” on Wednesday. …
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer told the Democratic Caucus on a conference call this week that he expected a fourth and fifth phase of legislative responses to the pandemic, according to a source on the call who requested anonymity to describe the private deliberations.
Some members on the call talked about items they wanted to push for that were left out of phase three, the source said.
The House might look for a pork-riddled Phase 4, but the Senate won’t meet any time soon to consider it. Mitch McConnell adjourned the Senate after the passage of the bill yesterday, in large part over concerns about the spread of coronavirus on Capitol Hill, although he pledged to recall the chamber on 24-hour notice to deal with emergencies. That won’t include federal mandates for vote-by-mail provisions, an issue that belongs to the states to decide, or emissions restrictions on airlines as conditions for accessing low-cost loans.