House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s projected victory gives Democrats a mandate in Congress to direct economic policy for the country, starting with coronavirus relief.
“What Joe Biden got in this election was a mandate — a mandate to address the challenges that our country faces as well as to have a positive initiative on how to grow the economy in a fair way,” Mrs. Pelosi said at a press conference on Thursday. “And in order to do that, we must address the COVID, the pandemic. We must.”
Mrs. Pelosi was joined by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer who told reporters the election gave Democrats the upper hand on coronavirus policymaking.
“This election was more a, maybe more a referendum on who can handle COVID well than anything else,” Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, told reporters. “The Donald Trump approach was repudiated, the Joe Biden approach was embraced, and that’s why we think there’s a better chance to get a bill in the lame-duck if only the Republicans would stop embracing the ridiculous shenanigans that Trump is forcing them to do.”
When pressed by reporters on Thursday about whether her position has changed on advancing coronavirus relief legislation, Mrs. Pelosi said, “We’re in the same place, even more so, even more so with the pandemic.”
Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer accused congressional Republicans of losing touch with reality over their willingness to wait and learn the outcomes of election challenges brought by President Trump and his allies rather than accept projections that have already been made.
“When it comes to the election, congressional Republicans don’t have the evidence,” Mr. Schumer said. “They don’t have the proof. They don’t have anything. Neither does the president. Congressional Republicans are deliberately casting doubt on our elections for no other reason but fear of Donald Trump. These Republicans are all auditioning for profiles in cowardice.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy rejected the message Democrats’ inferred from the November election.
“I heard the speaker call it a mandate, it was a mandate against socialism. It was a mandate against defunding the police,” the California Republican told reporters on Thursday. “It was a mandate against wasting a majority that the Democrats have done for the last Congress.”
Mr. McCarthy referred to the election as yielding the “year of the Republican woman” and said every Democratic incumbent in the House that lost did so to a woman, a minority or a veteran.