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Ro Khanna urges Pelosi to retake Trump's pre-election COVID deal

In an "Axios on HBO" interview, California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna continued to urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take the $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief deal that the Trump administration offered — and Pelosi rejected — before the election.

Driving the news: Asked if he thinks Pelosi ought to take the deal now, Khanna replied, "If we get $1.8 trillion? I think we would definitely want to make the deal. And it's gonna be catastrophic if we don't."

  • Khanna had urged Pelosi to take the $1.8 trillion deal before the election, but she rebuffed him, saying, "Ro Khanna, that's nice. That isn't what we're going to do."
  • Asked why he thought Pelosi refused to take the deal before the election, Khanna replied, "My guess would be that she thought we would win the Senate, and we would have a bigger majority in the House, and that we would quickly be able to get everything we wanted."
  • "I think if she had known that we wouldn't win the Senate, maybe it would have been a different calculation," Khanna added.

The big picture: Khanna said both parties were to blame for failing to pass a coronavirus relief package before the election (though he said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was the most to blame).

  • He pointed out that it’s “not clear” whether McConnell would have agreed to the larger package. "But our failure, our collective failure to get that stimulus could prove to be a big mistake in American history," he said.
  • "It was a collective failure. I think that's what the voters said."

The other side: “As the Speaker has repeatedly stated, she would not have spent as much time on these talks if there was no prospect for success," said Drew Hammill, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff. "Unfortunately, the White House spent weeks stalling negotiations."

  • "No House Democrat would have voted for a package that didn’t crush the virus and work to address the disparities in how COVID impacts communities of color — among the key items the White House refused to or was unable to resolve in these discussions.”

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