Nancy Pelosi calls stock market plunge 'disturbing' as she pushes for coronavirus funding

Key Points
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the stock market sell-off "disturbing" as she criticized the Trump administration's response to the global coronavirus outbreak.
  • She and Sen. Chuck Schumer outlined conditions for an emergency funding proposal.
  • Pelosi also pushed back on President Trump's suggestion that the stock plunge was at least in part the fault of Democratic presidential candidates.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at a press conference to announce the impeachment managers on Capitol Hill January 15, 2020, in Washington, DC.
Olivier Douliery | AFP | Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called the stock market sell-off "disturbing," and she criticized the Trump administration's response to the global coronavirus outbreak and outlined conditions for emergency funding.

The California Democrat also pushed back on President Donald Trump's suggestion during a Wednesday evening White House briefing on the health crisis that the market plunge was at least in part the fault of Democratic presidential candidates.

"Lives are at stake," she said. "This is not a time for name-calling or playing politics."

Pelosi's comments at her weekly press conference came as equities sank into correction territory of a 10% retreat from recent highs. Investors have been shaken by warnings that the coronavirus, which has killed more than 2,700 people globally and infected tens of thousands, is likely to spread further into the U.S.

"The market drop," Pelosi said, "is disturbing."

"We want to instill confidence" and work to prevent the coronavirus in the U.S. "without panicking people about this," she said.

"The market will do what it does with the invisible hand," Pelosi added, but "it does show some fragility on the part of the market that it would drop so much."

Pelosi also raised concerns about the Trump administration's leadership in its response to the virus. She said she spoke Thursday morning with Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump put in charge of coordinating the crisis, and "made some of these concerns known to him."

Pelosi said she's "always had a very candid relationship" with Pence "and I expressed to him the concern that I had of his being in this position."

She noted Pence's handling of an HIV outbreak in Indiana when he was governor there, which was criticized as being slow and driven by ideology over science.

President Trump responds to reporter questions

The Trump administration has taken numerous steps in response to the virus, such as declaring a public health emergency and imposing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines.

The White House sent a coronavirus funding package to Congress on Monday night asking for at least $2.5 billion to use in its prevention efforts.

But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the administration's plan "inadequate." His office put forward a plan to allocate $8.5 billion in emergency funds.

In a joint statement Thursday morning, Pelosi and Schumer said, "Any emergency funding supplemental the Congress approves must be entirely new funding—not stolen from other accounts."

Any such spending plan, they said, must also include provisions to ensure that Trump can't use that money for anything other than fighting diseases, that eventual vaccines are "affordable and available to all that need it," and that protections are made for small businesses and state and local governments impacted by the outbreak.

At her news conference, Pelosi also responded to Trump's claim from the briefing room late Wednesday that "I think the financial markets are very upset when they look at the Democrat candidates standing on that stage making fools out of themselves."

Seven Democratic presidential candidates met in Charleston, South Carolina, on Tuesday night for an often messy and chaotic debate, just days before the state's primary.

Trump said investors say "'if we ever have a president like this' ... When they look at the statements made by the people standing behind those podiums, I think that has a huge effect, yeah."

Pelosi fired back at Trump: "Well, the market dropped 1,800 points before the debate the other night."

She added: "The market dropped while he was speaking yesterday at his press conference."

Jim Cramer reacts to President Trump's comments on the market sell-off