Pelosi Rips McConnell for Blaming Coronavirus Response on Impeachment, Says He Didn't 'Face Reality... That Delay Cost Lives'

In an interview earlier today with MSNBC anchorperson Andrea Mitchell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for his comment on Tuesday claiming that the impeachment trial "diverted" presidential and congressional Republican attention from the threat of coronavirus emerging in China.

"That's so sad," Pelosi said. "They can't handle their jobs, I guess, because, what are they saying? We ignored it? It was self-evident. Most people knew about it and certainly those of responsibility."

She continued, "So I say of that, either you can't handle your job, but don't blame impeachment on that. Just blame it on the fact that you didn't want to face the reality, and that denial and that delay cost lives."

When asked about Trump's refusal to re-open the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) so that people in need of medical care during the epidemic can receive it, Pelosi said, "Well it's really so sad that the president would not extend the enrollment period. So many people are uninsured."

She added that she's not surprised considering that the Trump administration supports a Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality of the Obama-era health plan. The case was brought forth by governors of red states and could effectively shut down ACA and its protections, leaving an estimated 20 million people without health insurance.

Nancy Pelosi
U.S. House Speaker (D-Calif.) talks to reporters at a news conference about legislation addressing the ongoing coronavirus outbreak March 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Pelosi also spoke about citizens' concerns she hoped to address in upcoming stimulus and infrastructure bills.

"One is how are we protecting our first responders, our health care providers who are risking their lives to save other people's lives?" she said. "They need their personal protective equipment. They need ventilators to help save lives. So, we're calling upon the president to do the Defense Production Act full-throttle so that these needs are being met."

She also said people want to know how they can access recently approved funds to aid small businesses and help the millions of Americans in need of unemployment insurance.

She added, "There are very serious concerns about big money going to big industries in our country without the conditions to be met that that money will be used to benefit the workers and not buybacks, bonuses, dividends, CEO pay, and the rest—so you just want to make sure the money goes where it's designed to go."

Citing historically high unemployment numbers, Pelosi then provided a look into what congressional Democrats hope to include in upcoming bills.

Key goals include safeguards for clean community drinking water, the construction and rehabilitation of community health centers, increased broadband internet access for rural areas and "urban deserts," repairs for roads and highways, and funds to support the postal service.

"We see this as part of recovery: emergency, mitigation, recovery. And recovery that directly helps us fight the coronavirus crisis," Pelosi said.

Earlier today, McConnell called the Speaker's push for a new bill "premature," adding, "She needs to stand down on the notion that we're going to go along with taking advantage of the crisis to do things that are unrelated to the crisis."

However, Pelosi told Mitchell, "I don't know how much more the leader needs to know about the challenge that is facing our country and that further delay just exacerbates the problem. We're just continuing to work. We hope we can work in a bipartisan way. The leverage that we have is that in a bipartisan way across the country, mayors and governors are saying that we need more resources."