Pelosi calls Title 42 hold-up in COVID-19 bill ‘blackmail’

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday said holding up a COVID-19 relief bill as a way to demand a vote on Title 42, a Trump-era pandemic public health policy that allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the border and prevents them from seeking asylum, is “blackmail,” but she appeared open to the notion of Congress holding a vote on the controversial measure.

The comments came after Senate Republicans in early April blocked the upper chamber from advancing a $10 billion COVID-19 bill after Democrats refused to vote on an amendment that called for blocking the Biden administration from rescinding Title 42.

An increasing number of Senate Democrats, however, are becoming more open to holding a vote on the controversial policy. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) last week said “there’s a growing willingness to bring that up and have the amendment votes necessary to get it to a final vote.”

Pelosi on Sunday said “there’s no use holding it up to blackmail, as the Republicans are trying to do.”

“We’re working on it. We will find a way. It has to be done, because people continuing to hear every moment — all the time now, hopefully not as deadly as the previous COVID-19. But, nonetheless, we must pass the package,” she added.

Pressed on whether Congress would pass the funding even if it includes the Title 42 amendment, Pelosi said, “I don’t even know why 42 would be on it. It has nothing to do with it.”

She did, however, say “the fact is now that we have to either substitute for it, but we much pass the COVID package.”

The U.S. has observed an increase in COVID-19 cases over the past month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though the numbers still remain far lower than previous outbreaks.

By some estimate, the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. reached the 1 million mark this month.

The Speaker on Sunday noted the grim milestone, telling CNN “the sadness of this lingers on, causing all kinds of trauma for families, mental health issues, sadness for families.”

“You would think that the Republicans would take that into consideration,” she added.

She also recognized the passage of a Ukraine funding bill last week, which the lower chamber passed without COVID-19 funding included. Congressional leaders were considering linking the two priorities.

Pelosi said the House leadership decided not to include COVID-19 funding in the Ukraine bill because Republicans did not support that track.

“We wanted to put COVID on there. They said no. We said, ‘OK, Ukraine, urgent, right this minute. We will do that.’ But we have to do the COVID package. There’s no use holding it up to blackmail, as the Republicans are trying to do,” she said.

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