Sen. Mike Braun: Senate Was Nearing Agreement on Relief Bill, 'Then Nancy Pelosi Shows Up'

By Susan Jones | March 24, 2020 | 6:36am EDT
(Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

( - A week ago, Senate Republicans held their noses and voted for a House-passed relief bill providing free coronavirus testing and paid emergency leave, along with other provisions that placed unfunded mandates on small businesses.

"It wasn't perfect in our mind, but it was urgent that we did something," Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) told Fox News's Laura Ingraham Monday night. "So we took it really as it was from the House."

But now, just as the Senate was close to producing a much larger, bipartisan relief package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flew back to town:

"And I have never seen it since I've been here, where you have Democrats and Republicans working in about four or five task groups," Braun said. "We all thought everything was fine and had it to the point where really I thought we were going to get it across the finish line on Sunday evening.

"Then Nancy Pelosi shows up in town, starts talking about her own bill, and that is when I think the reins went from Chuck Schumer to Nancy Pelosi. It's been like that ever since." 

Ingraham said it's just like impeachment and the Brett Kavanaugh hearing; Democrats are  "always upping the ante, threatening another investigation, threatening another witness...and now they’re playing politics with the lives of the American public and their ability to recover from what is a catastrophic series of losses. Not just for big businesses, but for the mom-and-pops that are the lifeblood of this country.”

President Donald Trump tweeted late Monday night: "Republicans had a deal until Nancy Pelosi rode into town from her extended vacation. The Democrats want the Virus to win? They are asking for things that have nothing to do with our great workers or companies. They want Open Borders & Green New Deal. Republicans shouldn’t agree!"

In a second tweet, Trump wrote that such a bill "will never be approved by me, or any other Republican!"

Earlier on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said both sides continue working with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to reach agreement on a Senate bill.

McConnell said this is not about restructuring things to fit the Democrat vision, as Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said last week. (Clyburn told fellow Democrats the House bill would be "a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”)

"That's not what this is about,” McConnell said on Monday.  “This not about unrelated policy changes. This is about direct assistance to the American people and small businesses, hospitals and others who are in need because we in government at all levels, in order to deal with this pandemic, have basically shut the economy down.

McConnell said he fully intends for the Senate to pass its own bill:

"I'm hopeful and optimistic we will get bipartisan support because this bill has been negotiated on a bipartisan basis here in the Senate. It would be best for the country if the House would take it up and pass it, just like we did earlier...when the House passed a bill that I had only marginal participation in, because the country was desperate for results.

McConnell said the Senate will vote on Tuesday -- "make no mistake about it."

“The wheel has to stop at some point. I don't want any of you to buy the notion that this isn't a thoroughly bipartisan proposal already. There is still some elbowing and maneuvering for room, as you can imagine.

“But this is a pretty solidly bipartisan proposal agreed to by a lot of rank-and-file Democrats who were involved in drafting it. And at some point here, we will have to stop ad that will be the bill that we vote on, and in my opinion, that will be tomorrow.”

Pelosi said on Monday, "The Senate Republican bill put corporations first, but because of the insistence of Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats, progress has been made. We urge the Senate to move closer to the values in Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act."

But the $2.5-trillion, 1,400-page “Take Responsibility” House bill includes Democrat agenda items -- Green New Deal elements, vote-by-mail, minimum wage hike, etc. -- that have nothing to do with the immediate relief Americans are demanding.


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