Congress is reviewing a $2 trillion economic stimulus package to support U.S. businesses and workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been central to the negotiations, and she joins Judy Woodruff to discuss why she is satisfied with the bill's provisions for unemployment compensation and corporate oversight amid a crisis the country hasn't experienced in 100 years.
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Well, first, let me just say that we have a challenge in our country that we haven't seen for over 100 years, tens of thousands of people — cases, hundreds of people who have died.
It's really a challenge to us. And the health issue is preeminent for all of us.
I just want to thank our men and women who are health care providers, our first responders, and the rest. They are truly our heroines.
And one of the challenges that we have is to make sure that they have all the personal protective equipment that they have to do their jobs, so that they're not taking risks as they go into help others and don't bring any problems home from the office — of the workplace.
So, that's — it's so important, that we can try to save lives, but also to respect what it takes to save those lives in terms of our health care providers and first responders, firefighters, and the rest.
That involves an OSHA rule that should be — that isn't in this bill. That's still a challenge that we have, and also just getting the personal protective equipment to them. The health issue is everything.
I think the health issue is central to the economic issue. The health and the lives and the livelihood of the American people are at stake, at risk, and are uncertain at this time.
So, when we get to the economic side, we're very pleased, actually, that, in the last few days, the health — the Democrats in the Congress performed some jujitsu on the bill that was there. It was from the top town, corporate trickle down to the workers.
We turned it completely around to workers — for the workers to bubble up, for the workers and for the families...
So, there are many provisions in the bill that are necessary and immediate.
And we would hope that we can — the Senate will take up the bill, so we can bring it to the floor in the House. We thought we were on that path, until some of the Republican senators objected to the $600 payment that is there, in addition to the unemployment insurance.
Lisa did an excellent job of describing that to you.
JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS: And I want to ask you, what their argument is, as you know, is that people will end up receiving more in unemployment benefits in some instances than they would have earned in their salary. And they're saying that's a problem.
PELOSI: But it isn't a problem. It isn't a problem.
They also say the reason people want unemployment insurance is so they don't have to go to work. Well, that's not true. You don't get unemployment insurance unless you are fired or unless you are furloughed. You can't just quit and say, I'm going on unemployment.
But the fact is, is that there is an imbalance in our country in income, and, therefore, the unemployment benefits. But Lisa described it very well. It's complicated. It's complicated to make it calibrate for every state, so just call it $600 around the country...
At a time when the — the fact is, is that we are a consumer economy, and that we really need people — put money in people's pockets, so they can then spend, inject demand into the economy, grow the economy, and that's a good thing...
We have yielded on many points.
We certainly would have had a higher direct payment. We would have had more expanded family medical leave in here. We would have had the OSHA rule protecting the health care workers. We would have full benefits for everyone who gets tested. Remember, we said free testing, but we want the whole procedure to be there.
So we would have pensions in here.
There's other things that we want that we will save for another day because of the urgency of getting this passed today. And so this is a Republican — among the Republicans, because, as Lisa indicated so ably, that it is House Democrats and Republicans and the White House in agreement that we should have this $600 payment.
And so, either way, we're talking about $600. This is — people are scared, they're in need, they have additional expenses.
I don't need to explain that to you.