NBC News' John Yang baselessly suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rushing an agreement on the economic recovery bill because she “has a congressional delegation trip to Italy scheduled to leave on Friday, and of course, the speaker's maiden name is D'Alesandro, and she would dearly love not to miss that trip.” In fact, Pelosi has said, “If we don't have [a bill] by the time of the Presidents recess, there will be no recess.”
On the February 11 edition of MSNBC Live, NBC News White House correspondent John Yang reported that the House and the Senate are “trying to get an agreement” on the economic recovery bill, “perhaps as soon as this afternoon, so they could vote on the compromised conference report by tomorrow. That would be incredibly quick action.” Addressing anchor David Shuster, Yang added: “But, David, all politics is local, as you know. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D-CA] has a congressional delegation trip to Italy scheduled to leave on Friday, and of course, the speaker's maiden name is D'Alesandro, and she would dearly love not to miss that trip.” However, Yang gave no indication that he contacted Pelosi for a response, nor did he note that Pelosi has repeatedly said that Congress will stay in session through the recess if necessary.
In recent interviews, Pelosi stated that there will be no Presidents Day recess unless a bill is agreed upon:
- On the January 21 edition of CNN's Larry King Live, Pelosi stated: “We will have a bill before the Presidents Day recess or else there will be no Presidents Day recess.” After host Larry King asked, “Or there'll be no recess?” Pelosi replied, “Or there'll be no recess.”
- During a January 14 interview on NPR's Morning Edition, host Renée Montagne said to Pelosi: “Back for one last moment on the stimulus package: You've said that this package would be passed before the Presidents Day recess, which is next month.” Pelosi replied, “That's right. If we don't have it by the time of the Presidents recess, there will be no recess.”
Additionally, in a January 23 article, Reuters quoted Pelosi saying, “We're on schedule for our timetable to have a bill on the president's desk to be signed before the Presidents Day recess. Again, if not, there will be no recess.” Similarly, in a January 9 article, the Associated Press reported that Pelosi “promised lawmakers that she would cancel next month's planned Presidents' Day vacation if necessary.” And on January 8, The Hill and United Press International quoted Pelosi saying, “If we don't have a bill before the Presidents [Day] recess, there will be no Presidents [Day] recess. ... We are not going home without an economic recovery package.”
From the 11 a.m. ET hour of the February 11 edition of MSNBC Live:
SHUSTER: John, in looking at what both the Senate and the House did in their effort to try to make sure there are only shovel-ready jobs, it's about $90 billion. So, most of it will be other stuff, like aid to the states, or education, or Medicaid and whatnot. Where -- has the White House sort of signaled, given that there is this severe battle right now between the House and the Senate -- members of the House want, for example, $70 billion in money reinstated that would go to the states. The Senate -- Senator Specter, for example, said that no, if the Senate version is altered in any fashion, he will bail on it.
Where does the White House come down on these sort of arguments? Or is the White House simply trying to stay out of it and let members of Congress figure this out themselves?
YANG: Well, they're taking a direct role in this. Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, Peter Orszag, the CBO director, were on the Hill last night within hours of the Senate passage. You know, the -- even though they're -- the conferees don't meet officially until this afternoon, aides and the staff have been meeting actually even before the Senate bill passed, going through the weeds, getting through a lot of the minor details, but a lot of the big questions still remain.
The White House is pushing to get the $16 billion in school construction funds back in, which the House really would like to see back in the Senate; Republicans, the moderate Republicans, who gave them the margin, not so much. The other big issue of contention, as you said, is that money going directly to the states -- the House bill had 79 billion; the Senate compromised to get the three Republican moderates on board so they could get over the filibuster hurdle, took out $40 billion. They cut that in half. That's going to be a big issue because if that money is not there, a lot of states are going to have to lay off a lot of workers, cut a lot of services, and that's the one thing that the president and the administration would like to avoid.
They are talking about trying to get an agreement, perhaps as soon as this afternoon, so they could vote on the compromised conference report by tomorrow. That would be incredibly quick action. But, David, all politics is local, as you know. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a congressional delegation trip to Italy scheduled to leave on Friday, and of course, the speaker's maiden name is D'Alesandro, and she would dearly love not to miss that trip.
SHUSTER: NBC's John Yang at the White House.