Joe Biden was squeezed on his party’s failure to pass coronavirus relief at Thursday’s presidential debate — as Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi comes under increasing fire for failing to reach a deal.
“You are the leader of the Democratic Party: why have you not pushed the Democrats to get a deal for the American people?” NBC News moderator Kristen Welker asked Biden in Nashville, Tenn.
“Well, I have,” Biden claimed. “They passed this act all the way back in the beginning of the summer… This Heroes Act has been sitting there,” he said of the Democratic Party’s $3.3 trillion grab-bag which was killed in the Senate five months ago.
“Mitch McConnell said let them go bankrupt. Come on!” he said, blaming the GOP Senate Majority Leader.
But Trump accused Pelosi (D-Calif.) of being the one to hold out on a deal after Democrats have repeatedly spurned smaller, targeted bills with unemployment assistance and relief for small businesses.
“Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to approve it. I do. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to approve anything because she’d love to have some victories on a day called Nov. 3,” the commander-in-chief said.
“We are ready, willing and able to do something,” he said.
It’s increasingly likely another aid package won’t be passed before the presidential election in just 12 days, with Trump calling Democratic demands a “bailout” for Democratic-run states.
“This was a way of spending on things that had nothing to do with COVID, to answer your question, it was really a big bailout for badly run Democratic parties and states,” Trump told Welker.
Biden said he didn’t see red and blue states, telling the audience all states were in financial trouble following months-long lockdowns prompted by the pandemic.
The septuagenarian candidates were also pressed on whether they supported raising the minimum wage to $15.
Trump said he didn’t, calling for a state option because the cost of living is very different between New York and Vermont.
“How are you helping small business when you’re forcing wages?” he said, claiming small business owners would be forced to lay people off if they were had to pay their employees more.
Biden, meanwhile, gave a full-throated endorsement of the measure.
“Anything below that puts you below the poverty level and there is no evidence that when you raise the minimum wage businesses go out of business. That is simply not true,” he said.