May 12, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Infrastructure Press Conference Transcript May 12
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on May 12, 2021 after a meeting with Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, and Chuck Schumer. She discussed infrastructure plans. Read the transcript of the full briefing here.
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Peter DeFazio: (00:08)
Okay, thanks everybody for being here today. We want to talk about the major infrastructure initiative that we will be passing out of my committee in the near future. And I believe if I can consult with the Speaker probably on the floor of the House before the 4th of July break.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:27)
Peter DeFazio: (00:28)
Okay. So you have it directly from the Speaker before the 4th of July break. The federal government has failed to be a sufficient partner to states, cities and counties around the country. And that’s what we’re going to emphasize today. Cities that are taking the initiative on their own, self-help and trying to solve problems that are actually national in scope. You know, for years I toted around a poster and the poster was a picture of the brand new Kansas Turnpike, 1956 cover of Life Magazine and it ended in this weird kind of black area with little angles like that.
Peter DeFazio: (01:14)
And you say, “Well, what’s that?” Well, that’s the Oklahoma State Line. Oklahoma said they were going to build it. They said, “Oh, we got financial problems. We can’t.” So they built a barrier at the end of the beautiful new turnpike and people crashed through it and into Amos Switzer’s farm field. He was nice guy, he towed them out, couldn’t farm much in that area. And until we had the Eisenhower plan and they got a 75 or 80% match, they couldn’t build their project and nothing’s changed. States can’t do it on their own. Cities can’t do it on their own. Counties can’t do it on their own. This is a national problem. It’s also an international problem in terms of our competitiveness.
Peter DeFazio: (01:52)
So it’s absolutely critical that we move forward with an incredibly robust reinvestment in America’s infrastructure. We’re living off the legacy of Dwight David Eisenhower. He did a great job, but I’m not Dwight Eisenhower 8.0. We are going to do a transformative 21st century transportation bill. We’re going to deal with climate change and defossilization of surface transportation, which is the largest single contributor to climate change by the United States. We’re going to deal with resilience in terms of sea level rise, severe weather events in the West earthquake proofing our infrastructure. Fires now are an issue that relates to infrastructure.
Peter DeFazio: (02:35)
We’re going to rebuild it resilient. We’re going to rebuild it better with using new materials. We’re going to build 100-year bridges, not 60-year bridges. We’re going to bring transit up to a state of good repair. 100 billion dollars just to bring existing transit up to a state of good repair, let alone giving people new transit options and people need new transit options. You say, “Oh, well, they’re all buying cars now.” Well, that’s not going to last long. The roads are already getting clogged again. People are going to get back on transit when they get vaccinated and we need those options and we need high and higher speed rail.
Peter DeFazio: (03:08)
And from my committee also wastewater. The federal government hasn’t reauthorized the SRF wastewater bill since 1988. We’re going to reauthorize that. The president has a robust proposal for wastewater and drinking water. That’s going to come out of my committee and Frank Colone’s committee. We’re going to electrify the National Highway Network. We can do that in partnership with the Energy and Commerce Committee. They’re going to build the renewable power, reinforced the grid and we’re going to be ready. And the problem I have with a lot of my Republican colleagues they say, “We don’t believe in climate change” or they pretend they don’t. “We don’t want all these environmental provisions.”
Peter DeFazio: (03:41)
So I hold a hearing on the business case for electrification. I had Fred Smith, a known liberal from FedEx come in and say, “I’m going all electric. Climate change is real. I’m going all electric, including semis, but there’s no place to charge a semi.” I drove an electric semi last week in my district. They are here, they’re coming and GM’s going all electric. We’ve got to be ready for that. We’ve got to keep up with the world. We’ve got to be more competitive and we need to rebuild our infrastructure.
Peter DeFazio: (04:10)
And we’re here today to hear from the Speaker of the House and a number of my colleagues, three mayors, and two of my colleagues who are former mayors. I’m a former county commissioner. They can talk to about what it means on the ground for their people on a daily basis what it means for commerce and what it means for America in the future. So with that, I want to recognize the fabulous Speaker of the House, my friend, Nancy Pelosi.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:37)
Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I think it’s very clear to see why we are so blessed to have Peter DeFazio as the Chair of the Transportation Infrastructure Committee. He has decades of experience and knowledge on the subject, but he has a vision about how we take our country into the future. As I say to him all the time, “Peter, our hopes are riding on you” because he knows the territory and he knows the issues. And the fact that we are highlighting the mayors who are here, previous mayors who are now members of Congress, Congressman Stanton of Phoenix, Arizona. Where’s our other mayor? Mayor [inaudible 00:05:24] of New Jersey. And then we have three guest mayors who were Mayor Stoney, Mayor Lucas and from California, Mayor Garcetti who instituted one of the biggest infrastructure initiatives on the ballot successfully, but the other mayors have their own experience.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:42)
And I’m honored also to be here with our colleague who’s the chair of the Transportation and Transit Committee, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, representative of the soon to be state of Washington, D. C. Let me just say this. My colleagues who are mayors are probably tired of hearing me say this, but I grew up in the mayor’s house when I was in 1st grade, my father was mayor when I went away to college. My father was still mayor, my brother was mayor both at Baltimore. And I know how important that job is, how close to the people it is, how ready to meet the needs. So I commend them for their leadership.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:26)
And in almost every subject you can name, these mayors gathered here and others across the country are the first line of defense again of meeting the needs of the America’s people and to do so in a way that benefits the people as well as the economy of the region, and now the benefit of the planet. Mayors, again, they’re the buffer. There’s nothing between them and their constituents. They must deliver. And so the fact that they have made this a priority is really a great thing for our country. And what I want to say to them is thank you. When nonprofits who come to me and say, “How should we invest our money if we’re interested in this or that?” I say, “See what the mayors want to do” because then you will see action and you will see results.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:18)
I just came from meeting at the White House as you probably observed has just ended at 90 minutes with the president, four leaders, Mr. Schumer and I, and Mr. McConnell and Mr. McCarthy. It was a positive meeting in terms of agreeing that we want to build the infrastructure of America, that we have to stipulate as to what that would include. And many of the issues that you just named, Mr. Chairman, many of the issues that you’ve just named. But will again, the president has his vision. Congress will work it’s will, but I feel very optimistic in any event. I felt optimistic about our ability to pass such a bill. They’re more optimistic now, more optimistic now about being able to do so in a bipartisan way, but we’ll see, we’ll see. But it was positive. It took us a few steps further.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:17)
One area of, shall we say, not total agreement was electric cars. But again, we didn’t go through a list and say yes on this, no on that. But that emerged as something that they might not be too fond of just to give you some of the flavor of what happened at the meeting. But it was by and large, a very strong commitment on the part of the president that his interest in bipartisanship was sincere. We all agreed that infrastructure has always been nonpartisan or bipartisan in our history. Nobody knows that better than the distinguished chair of our Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Mr. DeFazio. So he will be a major negotiator in all of this and he will bring to the table not only his own experience, but what we’re going to hear from our mayors, former mayors, present mayors as well as our distinguished chair of the committee.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:10)
Now it’s my pleasure to yield the floor to the distinguished mayor of Los Angeles. As I mentioned, author of one of the biggest initiatives I think in at least the local history around the country, not just for our own region in California. He knows the importance of infrastructure to commerce, to quality of life, clean air and the rest for our kids, as well as job creation and the rest. Mr. Mayor, Eric Garcetti. I almost called him by his father’s name.
Eric Garcetti: (09:45)
Thank you, thank you. I’ll always take that as a compliment. Thank you so much, Madam Speaker. Thank you for being not just a speaker from California, but every mayor’s speaker. We love every time you tell us about having been the daughter and sister of mayors. Great to be here with former mayors. Greg Stanton who has been a dear friend-
Eric Garcetti: (10:03)
Great to be here with former mayors, Greg Stanton, who has been a dear friend and got a great promotion to represent Phoenix here. Thank you, Mayor Sires. Sorry. I should say Congressman Sires, as well. And to Eleanor Holmes Norton, thank you for having us in your district and for the voice that you have had for a long time to push for not just investing in infrastructure, but the people that it serves. Look, I’m going to throw aside my prepared speech here to just speak bluntly. 2021 is the year that America gets its act together, or we don’t. It’s the year that we come together, or we don’t. It’s the year that we build together, or we don’t. And I know a lot of people ask a very central question.
Eric Garcetti: (10:41)
We just heard it I think coming out of the White house. Not from the White House, but out of the White House meeting. Well, it depends what infrastructure is. Infrastructure is not about dollars and projects. Infrastructure is about people. It’s about seeing your family and how long your commute is at home. It is about the air you breathe. It is about the gateway to the middle-class and the jobs we create, what keeps Americans housed and healthy. What protects our homes from floods and fires. There should be no ambiguity about what infrastructure is because we all deserve to be in decent housing, to be able to have transit and transportation that gets us where we need to go to good jobs. It should be about the health of our nation, especially coming out of this pandemic.
Eric Garcetti: (11:24)
And it’s very clear that we have a coalition that is bipartisan at the local level of mayors who are saying, “This is the time for America to act.” I come from Los Angeles where, yes, thank you Madam Speaker, we passed the largest transportation measure at the local level in American history. $120 billion, $120 billion for 15 transit lines. I represent the number one container port in the Western Hemisphere where 40% of all the goods that come into America come through. Every single one of the tens of thousands of American communities do that service for each other every single day. We don’t think of ourselves as coming from just Los Angeles or our state. We think of ourselves as Americans. The transportation infrastructure should have no borders. The investment should have no borders. And yes it should be resilient, to address the climate change and the challenges of economic disparities in this country.
Eric Garcetti: (12:15)
And Chairman DeFazio, you have been a champion. You have come out to Los Angeles so many times and witnessed that. You’ve come through the third busiest airport in the world at LAX, which we have been investing $15 billion, with a B, in the largest airport modernization program in the country. You know, when we do these things what we see is not just an improved America, we see a healthier economy. We see folks who are hired locally like the woman I met along our Crenshaw/LAX line, which is bringing transit to our airport, who was once incarcerated but now lives two blocks from a project where she builds. And her teenage son can see her, an African American woman who lives two blocks from this project, working on something he can point to and say, “My mommy did that.”
Eric Garcetti: (12:58)
This about human beings. And if we let partisanship get in our way, if we let the scope of our ambitions diminish, we will see 2021 as the year that we failed. But thanks to these partnerships, I want to thank the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I chair our Infrastructure Task Force, National League of Cities, Accelerator for America, which I co-founded with now Secretary Buttigieg, we have been talking a long time. We’ve been waiting for four years through infrastructure weeks that were jokes, to finally come and to say, “This is the moment when an infrastructure package not only can pass and must pass, but it will position America to again realize her greatness.”
Eric Garcetti: (13:33)
I’ll end with this. It was the poet, Robert Browning, who once wrote, “Let a man,” and we should say let a person’s reach, “exceed their grasp.” We as Americans don’t think we can reach for big things anymore too often, but this is the year in which we realize we can hold things which might be just beyond our grasp. The second line of that poem says, “After all, what’s a heaven for?” I would say, “After all, what’s an America for?” With that, it’s my pleasure to introduce a brother mayor who represents the great city of Kansas City, Quinton Lucas, a great leader who has helped us not only with Accelerator for America, and at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, to come forward and to speak from the Heartland of this country. Quinton?
Mayor Quinton Lucas: (14:12)
Thank you so much mayor. Appreciate it. It is an honor to be with all of you. I became mayor in the second half of 2019, and we have dealt with a lot since that time. I thank the people behind me, Madam Speaker, the Chairman, and so many others, in helping us address important issues about how we get the heart of America, how we get Kansas City, how we get states around us, how we get our country back on its feet. And one way we address it is fundamental transformational change that we need in infrastructure. Back when I became mayor, I asked someone from our public works department, “How much deferred infrastructure do we have, right, how much is the cost for us?” They said, “$5 billion.” $5 billion for one city in the middle of America. That speaks to what the chairman was saying. All of these projects that started generations ago that we have not finished and so many needs for change now.
Mayor Quinton Lucas: (15:03)
I appreciate what Mayor Garcetti said in connection with infrastructure. You know, some have said that there’s this broad definition. It’s really not. It’s about people. It’s about how we get people to work. It’s how we invest in programs like our public transportation programs. In Kansas City we have zero-fare transit. And while we’re having discussions about unemployment and all those sorts of things, how about we all agree to get people to work? How about we all agree on these sorts of things that have been challenges in cities large and small for generations? And how about we all agree that infrastructure itself is not partisan? It is not political. It is a basic and core service that we need to make sure that we address. There are too many projects in my city, too many projects around the country, where we’ve said there’s not enough funding. There’s not enough focus.
Mayor Quinton Lucas: (15:49)
Well, I think right now what you’re hearing from hundreds of mayors across America, Republicans and Democrats, is saying that there is that focus. That we are committed to this. We do want to see this bill across the finish line. And we want to make sure that we’re investing in the people of the United States and the people of Kansas City. Making sure that somebody can get to work at any hour of the day, making sure that we are climate sustainable in what we’re doing next. And part of the reason we brought this coalition of mayors together is that it is not just a West Coast issue. It’s not an East Coast issue.
Mayor Quinton Lucas: (16:20)
It’s not just something in the Midwest. It’s something that all of us need to be able to address, to be able to address the challenges in our communities, flooding, storms, so many others. How are we resilient? How can we make sure that our communities are what they need to be? We’ll be here with you Madam Speaker, Mr. Chairman, to make sure that we help as mayors get our voices out to get this bill across the finish line and to invest in our communities. And one of the mayors who’s been the greatest leader both in this and a number of issues is somebody from right down the street, my friend Levar Stoney from Richmond, Virginia. Mayor Stoney.
Mayor Levar Stoney: (16:53)
I want to first thank Speaker Pelosi for your leadership, Mr. Chairman, thank you for your leadership as well, members of Congress. I just want to echo my fellow mayor and friends, Mayor Garcetti, Mayor Lucas. The time is now. No more passing the buck. No more punting the ball. The time is now. You know, the buck stops with mayors. We are on the front lines. But the buck starts with Congress. And for far too long, we all know that local government that’s where rubber meets the road. Unfortunately, in a lot of our cities the rubber meets the road pretty hard in some of our cities. And our residents are asking for solutions and we have taken the burden to investing in antiquated infrastructure.
Mayor Levar Stoney: (17:47)
But we need an injection like no other, not just to transform our cities, not just to transform this country, but also to transform our families’ futures as well. In the City of Richmond, just 100 miles south of here, I’m dealing with an antiquated, old, combined sewer overflow system, that’s dogged us for ages, that empties into the James River and also the Chesapeake Bay, needing of investment. I have one of the largest concentrations of public housing between Washington D.C. and Atlanta. And also we have bridges that have seen their better days some decades ago. This is a problem that’s been flashing red for us for years, and we’ve done nothing about it. That’s why the time is now for this sort of investment.
Mayor Levar Stoney: (18:42)
And this is an opportunity for us to close the income inequality gap that unfortunately plagues a lot of our cities. So I don’t know what is necessary. I know the answer is getting something done because doing nothing is not an option. It’s not an option. So Mayor Garcetti, I don’t want to have to deal with any more infrastructure weeks. I want investment week. I want investment year. I want this to be the decade of investment into our cities and in our public infrastructure. And I know we can get it done today. Thank you all so much. All right. Next is Congressman Sires, another mayor.
Congressman Albio Sires: (19:31)
Thank you, mayor. Thank you, Speaker, for holding this press conference and putting the weight of the Speaker’s office behind his bold infrastructure bill. They certainly need it for America. Chairman, I mean I’m not going to have to hear you for the last 10 years, 15 years about a bold infrastructure bill. I’m very happy that we’re finally going to do something. Thank you. Thank you for both of you. Yes, I am a former mayor, and like Mayor Garcetti said, “There are no such thing as-
Congressman Albio Sires: (20:03)
Like Mayor Garcetti said, there are no such thing as former mayors. We’re all mayors. I understand every single word that they said about infrastructure, whether it was sewer, whether it was bridges, whether it was roads. I come from a district that is probably the most densely-populated district in the country. Just in the town that I live alone, it’s one square mile, and we have 52,000 people. One square mile. The neighboring town is Hoboken, New Jersey, home of Frank Sinatra. That’s another one mile and 52,000 people.
Congressman Albio Sires: (20:36)
I also represent the two tunnels that bring people into New York, the Gateway Tunnel. They’re over 100 years old, 102, 103, take your pick. But during the storm of Sandy, the salt got into the tunnel from the river. Now, this salt is eating the cement, so it’s only a matter of time before we need another tunnel. This is why I’m here today. This is what I came to Congress, to make sure that we built the Gateway Tunnel, because 20% of the GDP of this country goes through that tunnel, in that region. I don’t want to talk about a bridge, the portal bridge that needs a work and is finally going to get done because of Governor McGreevey. Well, I apologize for that.
Congressman Albio Sires: (21:30)
He was my governor when I was there, Governor Murphy, but this portal bridge is sold that when you open it up, the railroad lines do not line together. So, they have to use a sledgehammer to line up my property so the trains can go back and forth. As you see, my district is in need of a lot of help and infrastructure.
Congressman Albio Sires: (21:59)
In New Jersey, when you own a car, you’re expected to spend $713 a year just on damage on your car because of the roads and everything else that you have to deal with on the road in New Jersey. We are very, very, very densely populated, infrastructure is very, very important to us, and like I said, we have just about every single form of transportation in the district, from ferry to buses. And you know what’s important about that? When somebody gets on the ferry, they don’t ask them whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. When somebody gets on a bus to go to New York, they don’t ask them whether you’re a Republican or Democrat. It’s for the entire nation to work so they can go to work, people can get good jobs and bring home, as they say in New Jersey, bring home the bacon. Again, thank you, speaker, for all your help. Thank you, chairman. And thank you to all the mayors here. Feel right at home here. Thank you.
Congressman Greg Stanton: (23:07)
All right. Thank you, Congressman [inaudible 00:23:09] as my partner on transportation infrastructure. I’m Congressman Greg Stanton, and Speaker Pelosi, great to see you. Chairman DeFazio, Thank you both for your amazing leadership on this critically important issue. I can’t wait to introduce Congresswoman Holmes Norton, the chairwoman of my subcommittee on T&I, and let me say how wonderful it is to be among mayors again. I’m the former mayor of one of the largest cities in America, Phoenix, Arizona.
Congressman Greg Stanton: (23:35)
America’s mayors know that real infrastructure investment is long overdue, and they know that, in their cities, the federal government can be a great partner to improve lives, to transform local economies, create good jobs and new opportunity. It can lift up our people. And by strengthening America’s competitiveness, it can lift up our entire nation. It is powerful. Cities are eager to get this done, but for the most important investments, they need a better partner in the federal government.
Congressman Greg Stanton: (24:10)
And if you want to see a success story that shows how game-changing that partnership can be, look no further than my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. In an area once known for suburban sprawl, we built a public transportation system that works, a light rail that connects three downtown areas and job hubs in our region. And it was only impossible with local investment and federal partnership. Our initial investment has paid incredible dividends, nearly $15 billion in capital investment along the light rail lines since it opened.
Congressman Greg Stanton: (24:48)
And in 2015, Phoenix voters doubled down and backed an ambitious 35-year $32 billion plan to extend light rail, increase bus service and improve thousands of miles of roadways. At the time, it was the largest municipal investment of an infrastructure of its kind in our nation’s history. Then Mayor Garcetti had to go out and top it. Where’d he go? I’m still a little bitter about losing that record, Mayor Garcetti.
Congressman Greg Stanton: (25:19)
But let me tell you what that investment did for Phoenix. It helped us bounce back from the great recession better than ever, it changed the kind of jobs we have in our city, it put our economy on a new course, new corporate headquarters, new hospitals, new cancer research center, new university campuses, all because we made that investment in infrastructure. What’s happening in Phoenix, what’s happening in other major cities that have made similar investments, should be happening everywhere.
Congressman Greg Stanton: (25:47)
I want that success story for every city, every community in America, and we can make that a reality if Congress steps up to the plate to pass bold, meaningful infrastructure investment. We can be partners to help cities leverage their own investments, transform their economies and make America more competitive than ever before. And here’s the thing, smaller, rural and tribal communities, even big cities, can’t always make these investments on their own to maintain bridges, water systems, other critical infrastructure, much less get the funds together to get new projects off the ground.
Congressman Greg Stanton: (26:28)
But when we work together to make these investments, when we give local communities the tools and resources they need, we’re lifting everyone. Everyone wins. I look forward to working with the Transportation Infrastructure Committee, our colleagues in the House on both sides of the aisle, Chairman DeFazio, Speaker Pelosi, and of course, our local partners represented by these great mayors with us today, to get a bold infrastructure package passed through this Congress. Thank you, and now, I’ll pass it to my colleague and Chair of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Mayor Levar Stoney: (27:11)
Thank you very much. I’m bringing up the rear, but it’s been important for you to hear, especially from our mayors, Madam speaker, the Chairman DeFazio. I want to particularly welcome our mayors because they are the best spokespeople for what we’re trying to get through the Congress. As Chair of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, we do all the hard work before Chairman DeFazio really does what has to be done and has a full committee hearing. We are ready, and we want to make sure the Congress is ready.
Mayor Levar Stoney: (27:57)
In 116th Congress, to show you that we can get this done, if roads and bridges are not bi-partisan, that I don’t have anything to offer you, but in the 116th Congress, the House did pass what we call the Moving Forward Act and note that it had a high number, HR two, that tells you the priority it has. And it was updated to include not only bridges, transit and rail, but also it had unprecedented much needed provisions for our schools, housing and broadband. And who can say that that is not a part of infrastructure? Now that we have the House, the Senate and the presidency, come on, let’s get it finally done.
Mayor Levar Stoney: (28:54)
This is a one in a generation opportunity to finally do what we’ve been trying to do. I have been on this committee ever since coming to Congress. There weren’t many changes that had to be made. I can see that there are changes this time, but they must be done. Just let me focus on transportation and thank the president for trying to get to zero emissions by 2050. I don’t need to say enough about climate change to understand why that’s so important.
Mayor Levar Stoney: (29:27)
We’re investing not only to reduce automobile usage, but also we’re investing in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, if you really want to get at climate change. There are big bold projects, like the only federally-owned union station, which we hope to make a model for the nation. And it will do what the mayors have been discussing here as well. This bill will create thousands of union jobs.
Mayor Levar Stoney: (30:03)
Bill will create thousands of union jobs and it will unlock billions of dollars for private investment. I ask you to remember, this is not a federal bill. It involves to an even greater extent, the private sector. So we’re here today to ask for a big, bold transportation bill, like the one we passed last Congress that will transform the lives of our constituents. This time we cannot afford to miss the opportunity. It’s time for Congress to act and I think the people you’ve seen here today give you all the evidence you need. Thank you very much.
Peter DeFazio: (30:54)
We’ve got time for a few questions and we have to cede the space. Yes, go ahead.
Speaker 1: (30:57)
Yes. I have a question for Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, at the White House, Mitch McConnell, Senator McConnell said that the Republicans are not interested in reopening the 2017 tax bill and they made that clear to President Biden today. I wonder if you argued against that today and do you think you can carry out these infrastructure plans that Biden envisions them without reopening that bill?
Nancy Pelosi: (31:25)
Let me just first salute the president of the United States. You heard a word almost everyone said here, bold, for putting forth a bold package, a vision for how we build the future in a way that grows the economy by creating good paying jobs, but as a public health issue by cleaning the air and the rest, promotes commerce. It’s just spectacular and makes us credible on the world stage that we are able to lead in our own country. Excuse me. So I salute the president for the meeting that he had as well to achieve that goal. As I said earlier, the president is committed to bipartisanship.
Nancy Pelosi: (32:11)
We all have a responsibility to seek that where we can find it. And that is what we are intending to do, to find our common ground on the definition of infrastructure for this particular piece of the legislation as we go forward. I myself think that what the Republicans did on the tax scam to give 83% of the benefits to the top 1% was a big rip and hurt the working families in our country. He considers it sacrosanct. We have a different set of values. But what we did agree in the meeting is let’s agree on what we’re trying to achieve and then we can talk about how we pay for it.
Nancy Pelosi: (32:52)
Let’s not lead with the disagreement. We’ll find a way because the public knows that this is necessary. And what’s interesting listening to the mayors, the mayors who are currently mayors in the arena, still in city halls is their commitment to all of this. And listening to the mayors who are former mayors here in the Congress and bringing their experience, mayors make good members of Congress, especially when it comes to building the infrastructure of Congress. Don’t you agree? So again, big bold as soon as we can, as bipartisan as possible.
Peter DeFazio: (33:34)
There you go. That’s a good summary. Yes.
Speaker 1: (33:37)
I think I wanted to ask again for [inaudible 00:33:38]. Have you guys come to a mutual understanding of what the definition of infrastructure in a bipartisan bill will be?
Peter DeFazio: (33:47)
I think the speaker just addressed that. She said that is still an ongoing discussion with the Republicans. I do believe Republicans support broadband, wastewater. I have a bipartisan bill on wastewater. Many of the other issues that deal with climate change, schools, housing. Those are things that we’re going to need to work through with the Republicans.
Speaker 2: (34:10)
Chairman DeFazio, how would your committee support funding the highway bill? Will consider raising fuel taxes? What will be the funding options?
Peter DeFazio: (34:19)
I write a bill, I do the policy and I hand the bill, which is a bill, to the Ways and Means Committee and they figure out how to pay for it. So direct that question to Richie Neal.
Speaker 3: (34:34)
Can I ask Madam Speaker then Chairman Jeffries of the Democratic Caucus said this morning that a user fee is a tax on working class Americans and we don’t support that. Do you agree with that? Is that the position of the Democratic Caucus?
Nancy Pelosi: (34:46)
I agree with the president’s statement that he made, that people making under $400,000 a year were not going to be taxed. I agree with those who say that working families in our country should not have to subsidize the infrastructure of America while letting the wealthiest off. So I think there has to be fairness in all of this. And yes, I agree with what chairman said. Excise me. I have to have a call now about Israel, so I’m going to excuse myself.
Speaker 4: (35:18)
Real quick question. Mitch McConnell said this is our red line on this tax bill. He said, a red line. Do you have any red lines on this bill? What has to be included?
Nancy Pelosi: (35:29)
No, no. And this is not a place for any negotiation. Some of the things that we did talk about were the fact that there’s so many unpaid taxes in our country, probably the range is a trillion two, a trillion four, a trillion dollars, more than a trillion dollars that could pay for a big piece of this. Richie Neal has ideas about Build America Bonds and issues like that. But does it seem right to you that as we build the infrastructure of America, where the commerce of America is promoted, where success is garnered by big corporations in America, 50 of them didn’t pay any taxes last year, didn’t pay any taxes?
Nancy Pelosi: (36:14)
So why should working families be underwriting the infrastructure, the roads, and the bridges and the rest that that commerce travels over? I think we’ll be able to find a place on this. I myself have my own problems with their bill separate and apart from this legislation. But there could be enough money depending on what the final amount is, there could be enough other money, but I would not take anything off the table and I’m not drawing any red lines.
Speaker 4: (36:49)
You mentioned they opposed. Does electric cars need to be in the bill?
Nancy Pelosi: (36:54)
But I’m not … I think the American people want electric cars.
Peter DeFazio: (36:59)
Look, I addressed that. GM’s going all electric, okay. FedEx is going electric with semis. America’s going, the world’s going electric. Are we going to keep up with the world? Are we going to deal with climate change or not? We can’t continue. If they tell me they’re worried about sea level rise, they tell me they’re worried about severe weather events, and I said, well, don’t you want to deal with the root cause? Oh no, no, no, we don’t believe in that climate change stuff. Well, drop it. I made the business case. There’s a business case for electrification.
Peter DeFazio: (37:28)
Right now, that’s the only feasible technology. Hydrogen that has a future. We don’t have a way to transport it. We don’t have green hydrogen. We’re working on that. There will be a lot of research and future fuels potentially. Mayor Garcetti and I talked about this today for bus fleets and things in cities, but we’ve got to deal with climate change. They can’t deny it anymore. All right. Good. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.