WASHINGTON (CBS SF) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer skewered their Republican counterparts Thursday for refusing to acknowledge Joe Biden’s election victory and indulging President Trump’s efforts to cast doubt on the results, saying it is hurting the response to a worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
Schumer joined Pelosi for her weekly press conference to call for Senate Republicans and the White House to resume negotiations on a new round of coronavirus relief legislation.
“The President and the Republicans in Congress have ignored by delay, distortion, denial. Deaths have been caused. And what are they doing now? Continuing to ignore in spite of these numbers [of COVID-19 cases],” said Pelosi.
The Democratic leaders said the $3.4 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act passed in the House in May should be the “starting point” for negotiations.
In October, the House passed a smaller $2.2 trillion relief package and before the election, Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been discussing a possible deal between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion. While Trump predicted a massive stimulus deal after the election, he has been silent on it since losing to Biden; instead tweeting a flood of false claims over voter fraud.
“[Republicans] are engaged in an absurd circus right now refusing to accept reality … making it even harder to address the massive health and economic crisis that we are facing,” said Pelosi.
“The election is over. It wasn’t close. President Trump lost. Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. Kamala Harris will be the next vice president of the United States. Senate Republicans: stop denying reality,” said Schumer. “This is nothing more than a temper tantrum by Republicans.”
Despite losing a handful of House seats and with the Senate majority still in doubt pending a runoff election in Georgia, Pelosi and Schumer said the results of the election, in which Biden received more than five million more votes than Trump and is on track to win 306 electoral votes, amounts to a mandate.
“What Joe Biden got in this election was a mandate, a mandate to address the challenges that our country faces as well as to have a positive initiative on how to grow the economy in a fair way and in order to do that we must address the pandemic,” she said.
“This election was maybe more a referendum on who can handle COVID well, than anything else,” said Schumer. “The Donald Trump approach was repudiated. The Joe Biden Approach was embraced.”
The Trump campaign continued to challenge the results of the election on unsubstantiated claims of fraud Thursday, although no state has reported widespread ballot issues that would indicate the results are in doubt. The New York Times reported the day before that election officials of both parties from all 50 states indicated there was no evidence of voter fraud.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy Thursday disputed the Democrats claim of a mandate, noting that the Democrats who lost seats in the House lost to either a woman, a minority, or a veteran Republican.
“I heard the Speaker call it a mandate,” said McCarthy. “It was a mandate against socialism. It was a mandate against defunding the police. It was a mandate against wasting a majority that the Democrats have done for the last Congress.”
McCarthy said he supports the Trump campaign’s right to challenge the election results, but would not address any specific claims of voter fraud. He did not directly respond when asked if he believed Trump’s lawsuits would alter the outcome of the election.