Rep. Spanberger: Mnuchin's offer will ‘meaningfully help people’

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, Democratic representative from Virginia, joins The Final Round, to discuss the latest news on the stimulus deal, and her thoughts on Mnuchin's current proposal.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: We have Representative Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat from Virginia, joining the conversation. And congresswoman, thanks so much for taking the time to join the program. Let's start with those stimulus talks. Because it doesn't seem to be getting very far at this point.

So first, I just want to get your thoughts on what we seem to have gotten from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, this all or nothing approach. Does this make sense to you? And what would you like to see done at this point?

ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: Well, I've been very clear over the past few months that the need on the ground, in my district and in districts across the country, is a need for relief. I am hearing from people everywhere I go about the challenges they're facing, paying their rent, paying their mortgage, small business owners who are teetering on the edge of losing everything that they've worked for, while other small businesses already have.

The need for relief is immense, and it is immediate. And I have long been a proponent for a negotiated deal that we know will deliver relief to the American people. We have done it four times so far. And I continue to be pretty disappointed by how long this fifth package is, in fact, taking to negotiate.

JESSICA SMITH: Hi, congresswoman, Jessica Smith here. So does that mean that you think Speaker Pelosi should take the latest White House offer, this $1.8 trillion offer?

ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: I think it's important to look at what's in this offer. In this offer, we have PPP money. We have direct payments to individuals. We have extended unemployment.

We have support to schools, testing. We have support for a contact tracing national strategy and investments in a vaccine. In their proposal, there's money to the US Postal Service. The list goes on and on.

So what's been put on the table by Mnuchin is-- comprises elements of everything that Democrats have been advocating for. Everything that they are providing is something that Democrats have been advocating for.

And it consists of programs that would meaningfully help people-- WICC and SNAP for children who are hungry, support to schools that are struggling, like in my district, where hybrid school and virtual school just continues to be a challenge for kids, particularly in places where we don't have broadband internet.

Small business owners, particularly restaurant owners, who are struggling to survive. These are all of the programs that we have been advocating for quite some time. And the distraction of arguing about a dollar amount takes the conversation away from the programs that will deliver the relief and the aid that we need now, that the American people need now, that our economy needs now.

AKIKO FUJITA: So congresswoman, that sounds like a yes on the $1.8 trillion package that's being put forward by the White House. I'm also wondering whether you think a piecemeal approach is the right way to go. I mean, what should be prioritized in the face of this gridlock that we've seen on these negotiations?

ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: Well, as we've seen gridlock and as we've seen the conversations and the negotiations start and stop, I worked with a group of Democrats and Republicans to put forth a framework. These are the components that Democrats and Republicans, 25 and 25, can agree on. We put that forward a couple weeks back as a starting point, ideally, a way to get people back to the conversation table, back to the negotiating table.

And what we're seeing in this proposal that Mnuchin has brought forward, like, the operative question here is, can this actually deliver relief? And if there is a path towards getting it signed by the president, the answer is yes. And if that means providing PPP funds to the small businesses across my district, I look forward to voting for it.

If this means direct payments to people who don't know how they're going to pay their rent, I look forward to voting for it. If it means support to the US Postal Service, I look forward to voting for it. And if it means unemployment for those whose jobs are gone and have not been able to find new employment, I look forward to voting for it.

And there may be additional areas of relief that need to be addressed later, but the proposal that's been put forth is pretty large. And talking about a dollar amount versus the programs comprised in this proposal, I think it's off topic. And the topic is, if this were to pass tomorrow and be signed into law tomorrow, would we deliver relief to the American people who need it? And the answer is yes.

RICK NEWMAN: Hey, Rep Spanberger, Rick Newman here. So this is really a three-way negotiation between congressional Democrats, the White House, and then Republicans in the Senate, who have indicated they would only support this much slimmer $500 billion bill that has things in it Democrats are very uncomfortable with, especially that liability protection for businesses.

So if that were all you could get would be the Senate version, would you go for that? And do you think that would be a smart thing to do?

ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: I mean, I think it goes back to the question of, what is it that we would be delivering? You know, I question who in the United States, what small business owners are the members of the Senate who are advocating for next to nothing when it comes to supporting schools, the post office, vaccines, a national strategy for contact tracing, let alone direct payments to people who are struggling to pay their rents and mortgage.

And from a larger economic standpoint, who were the senators who don't want to avoid a potential housing crisis and the economic ramifications that that would bring?

So I think what the White House has put forward, certainly the discussions that have existed between Speaker Pelosi and Mnuchin, my hope is that they will move in a positive place. And I just can't begin to comprehend what conversations senators are or not having with their constituents if they don't see a need for the unemployment, continued PPP, and direct payments to people.

ANDY SERWER: Representative Spanberger, I want to ask you about your district, Virginia 7th. And forgive me if I'm wrong here. I'm just looking at Wikipedia. But I think you were the first Democrat elected in a long time.

And I believe that was Eric Cantor's district, for those of us who remember Eric, who is still around, working in the banking business, of course, and had voted-- went for President Trump in the last presidential election. What are things looking like in your district, which is kind of critical in a critical state?

ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: I think my district-- so our district, you correctly described it. We're 10 counties in total, majority suburban in population, majority rural in landmass. And my district is a district that has historically voted for Republicans. Did vote for me in 2018, obviously.

I'm feeling good about my reelection prospects because I am in touch with the people I represent, because I'm accountable to the people that I represent, and because I continue to advocate for common sense steps forward when it comes to relief and how we're dealing with the pandemic.

Our district is a reasonable place where the expectation is that people will work together, despite political party and despite ideology, to actually get things done. And so, you know, it's an interesting time in our district, particularly campaigning during a pandemic.

But yeah, my focus is on getting the relief that we need to the people I represent because that is the top priority that I'm hearing at the polls and everywhere else I go in the district.

ANDY SERWER: And do you think Joe Biden is going to win in your district?

ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: I hope so. I believe so.

SEANA SMITH: Representative Spanberger, great to have you on the program. We know it's a busy time, so thanks so much for taking the time to join us today.

ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: Thank you for having me.