Apr 1, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Transcript April 1
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference on April 2, 2021. She discussed Biden’s infrastructure plan. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
… initiative called of the Interstate Highway System, and he based it on the national security of our country so that we would be united as a country, and that is a security issue. Actually, Al Gore’s father, then a Senator from Tennessee, had initiated that legislation. So it was bi-partisan at that time. Hopefully, we’ll be bi-partisan again. So we’re very excited about what he did, and as I said to some of my colleagues on a call yesterday, my partisan call with the administration, that infrastructure is renewal. So it’s good that we’re talking about it in the season of renewal.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:43)
At the same time, we’re still very much insistent that everyone understand what is in the Rescue Package and how they can readily avail themselves of the benefits. Sometimes people just don’t know if they qualify for a low income tax credit or a child tax credit that is refundable. And so next week we are having a teach in. Members have had great opportunities in their districts already to do some spreading of the information, and that is part of what we will take advantage of as we put forth more information and how community groups can be helpful in making sure that everyone who is eligible for a benefit knows that. So, again, at the time when we passed it, we said, “It’s about vaccinations in the arms. It’s about money in the pockets. It’s about children safely in the schools. It’s about people safely back to work.” But in order for that to happen, there are many provisions in the bill that relate to childcare and the rest that we want to make sure people know how to avail themselves of it.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:01)
So we’re very excited about that. As you know, more than 100 million vaccines have already occurred, taken place, have doses in the first 100 days. The President said 100 doses in the first 100 days. It’ll be closer to 200 million doses in the first 100 days. By April 19th, 90% of adults will be eligible for the vaccine and have access within five miles of their homes, and that is important. And on the economic front, well over 100 million checks have been distributed and more are on the way. I’m very proud of the fact, because I feel so proprietary about the Affordable Care Act, that under the Rescue Plan, new ACA benefits will now be available, which will dramatically lower healthcare costs for millions of more people. And so, again, the President has extended the enrollment period and the rest. This is, again, people have to know. How many times have you heard me say, “President Lincoln said public sentiment is everything. With it, you can accomplish almost anything. Without it, practically nothing.”
Nancy Pelosi: (03:16)
But in order for public sentiment to prevail, people have to know, and that is what we are engaged in, making sure people know what their opportunity is. And, again, I repeat, next Wednesday, April 7th, is we’ll be holding our teach in as part of our day of action to lift up how the package saves lives and livelihoods in our communities. I’m so proud of House Democrats for the courage that they have had to go forward with it, the COVID package. And that was rescue, this is now into recovery about jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. And, again, the President said in the campaign, help is on the way. Now, we can proudly say help is here. And by the way, more to come. Any questions?
Drew Hammill: (04:04)
If you would like to be added to the queue to ask a question, please select the raise hand option under the reactions tab at the bottom of your screen. One moment while we wait for reporters to join the queue.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:16)
Okay. So with all of these vaccinations, it’s important for people to still remember to wear masks, because we want everyone to be as healthy as possible so we can truly, truly crush this virus. We now have the tools at our disposal. As we wait for our member of the press to queue up, oh, I see a lot of hands raised now.
Drew Hammill: (04:46)
Our first question will go to Emily Cochrane with the New York Times.
Emily Cochrane: (04:50)
Hi, Madam Speaker. Thank you for doing this.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:52)
Emily Cochrane: (04:52)
I wanted to ask, given the allegations against Matt Gaetz, do you think he should still remain a member of Congress? Should he step down? And if anything, should he be removed from Judiciary?
Nancy Pelosi: (05:08)
Well, we have so much going on in our country that hopefully we will get back to, and I think it’s an important issue, the integrity of the Congress. Not to minimize that, it just surprised me that, that was the first question. And I’m rarely surprised. If in fact these allegations are true, of course, being removed from the Judiciary Committee is the least that could be done. But, again, I think from what we’ve heard so far, this would be a matter for the Ethics Committee.
Drew Hammill: (05:45)
All right. Our next question will be Jake Sherman with Punchbowl News.
Jake Sherman: (05:50)
How are you?
Nancy Pelosi: (05:51)
Jake Sherman: (05:52)
I’m curious what you think of Gottheimer and his crew saying they won’t vote for anything with changes to the tax code without the SALT caps undone. I’m curious what you think of that and how you see that playing into the package.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:09)
Well, I’m a big supporter of their position, as you probably know. It was devastating to the state of California for the members, the Republican members, for California to vote against our state. And by the way, without any consultation with the Finance Director of the state as to what impact it would have on our meeting the needs of the people of California. They had the same view, I’m sure, in New Jersey, New York, other states that had been affected by this and it was a political action on the part of other Republicans in a tax bill that gave 83% of the benefits to the top 1%, the injustice of it all. So I’m sympathetic to their position. I would say that I would withhold any comment about whether you’re going to vote for a bill or not until you see what the bill is.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:03)
But, again, I share their exuberance about the subject of the SALT tax. It was mean-spirited to begin with, politically targeted. It had no place in that. Well, that was a tax scam to begin with so it was a mess all around. But hopefully, we can get it into the bill. I never give up hope for something like that. It means so much to the American people.
Drew Hammill: (07:31)
Our next question will be Lindsey McPherson with Roll Call.
Lindsey McPherson: (07:37)
Hi, Madam Speaker. Thanks for doing this call today.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:39)
Lindsey McPherson: (07:40)
I wanted to ask, we’ve been in for a while now, if you are going to invite President Biden to do a joint session of Congress sometime soon?
Nancy Pelosi: (07:51)
Yes, Lindsey, of course, we will. This part of the decision in that regard is in the hands of the Capitol Physician, as well as the Sergeant at Arms. So, in terms of how we can do that and how many people can be in the room and this or that will be hopefully the more people who get vaccinated, the more people we can have in the room. Some people have objections to vaccinations, which I hope that they can overcome in the very near future. While I say that, I want to acknowledge that we have a new Sergeant at Arms, General, oh my gosh, he is so remarkable, and General Walker is the first African American Sergeant at Arms. This is historic and he is going to be absolutely spectacular. He has formerly been the head of the National Guard of the district of Columbia, so he knows the territory and, again, we’ll wait.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:58)
The advice of the Capitol Physician, the Sergeants at Arms about how many people can be accommodated, but whatever the number, we’ll be ready whenever the President is ready to come. We’ll extend that invitation, which is the tradition. It’s a collaboration. We don’t pick a date and they don’t pick a date. We do it together, especially in time of COVID, which this is. I mean, this is the first COVID. We had the State of the Union last year, as you may recall, right before COVID. That was when I tore up the speech. The pack of lies, remember that? But this is now, this year. So it will be soon. I hope participated in as safely possible.
Drew Hammill: (09:51)
Nancy Pelosi: (09:54)
… conversation about when that would be. Thank you.
Drew Hammill: (09:58)
Our next question comes from Ella Nilsen with Vox.
Ella Nilsen: (10:03)
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for holding the call. I had a question, I know that the Biden administration is expected to release a second part of its package dealing with childcare and healthcare. I wanted to ask you if you know yet, similar to the American Rescue Plan, if the actual drafting of the bill will start in the House, and if you have any timeline for that yet on when you think there will be a draft of the bill ready to go?
Nancy Pelosi: (10:34)
Well, first, we want to see what the administration is proposing. Many of the initiatives that are in this infrastructure package and are in the Rescue Package were in the Heroes Act. We didn’t have the vaccine piece last May, Middle of may when we initially passed it, but much of what we had in there was either in the December legislation that passed and that had some elements of vaccine in that. And now this Rescue Package, again, has the benefit of much more availability of vaccine and still with testing, tracing, and treatment, et cetera, to crush the virus. So, again, the initiative, the priorities that the administration put forth, were important to us, but they were shared values. As in this infrastructure bill, it looks a lot like what we did in the summer, which was our Moving America Forward legislation of that had many of these same elements, but refreshed and expanded by this administration to recognize more fully how you cannot build the infrastructure physically without building the infrastructure personally, so that many more people can participate and more communities can benefit.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:54)
So we’ll see what the presentation is from the administration, but I’m certain we’ll have shared values. How it is prioritized and to the amount of funding remains to be seen. Yes, we will. If it’s a spending bill, it begins in the House of Representatives. Yes, that would be the case. But right now, we are, again, making sure people understand how they can benefit from the Rescue Package. We are building upon what we did in Moving America Forward to blend with Build Back Better that the President proposed just yesterday. And we eagerly await, and I think it’s going to be very good news for America’s families, because it will reflect the President’s priorities and his values, which we share. But we’ll wait to see what they present.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:47)
We’re waiting for the budget, which will be soon, which is eminent. The top line budget sometimes called skinny, but it’s really the top line budget. It ain’t that skinny. It’s just more top line, and then the full budget to come. So all of this is the work that we are engaged in to the extent that we can until we see what the White House proposes. But remember, House appropriations bills, spending bills, begin in the House of Representatives.
Drew Hammill: (13:23)
Our next question comes from Jonathan Nicholson with MarketWatch.
Jonathan Nicholson: (13:28)
Thank you, Speaker, for doing this. Yeah, I had a similar timelines question, which maybe you can be specific on. You’re [inaudible 00:13:38] reconciliation to ease this idea’s passage. Do you have a timeline for when you guys want to do the FY22 budget resolution? And do you have an ending timeline? Labor Day or the July 4th or the August break for wrapping up the infrastructure bill?
Nancy Pelosi: (14:01)
Well, let me just say that the needs of the American people are great. The infrastructure needs are self-evident. The American Society of Civil Engineers has demonstrated that we’re trillions of dollars behind. There is no more expensive maintenance than no maintenance for our infrastructure, and it’s a safety issue when it comes to bridges, as the President indicated yesterday. Having said that, we will prepare the bills and bring them to the floor when we are ready. Not one day sooner, not one day later. And, again, we look forward to writing a bill, maybe much of it in the first week of May for the infrastructure piece of it, and we’ll see when the Senate then will act upon those proposals. And then we’d go either to conference or just amending each other’s product. But, again, I’m not one who set dates, because then you use that as a measure. No. When we’re ready and we have the best possible bill, that’s when we’ll go forward.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:09)
But we understand that people need these jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. And as I’ve said earlier in my comments, this is about addressing saving the lives and the livelihood of the American people, and that’s what this legislation will help to do as we address long neglected infrastructure needs. We talked history before. Some of the water systems in our country are over 100 years old, made of wood and brick. They definitely need to be upgraded. Many of them have water supplies that are full of lead, not good for children or other living things. And the President spoke so clearly about riding water of lead for the children. There are so many things that are of urgent matter that we’d like to get the bill done soon. A couple of weeks ago, I called upon our chairman to reach across the aisle to see how we can work in a bipartisan way in order to pass infrastructure legislation, because it’s almost always been bipartisan, nonpartisan.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:24)
It meets the needs of communities. And, again, whether we’re talking about additional needs like infrastructure for broadband, for distanced learning and telemedicine, and so many other reasons that you’re well aware of how people communicate with each other and what a disadvantage it is to rural America or inner city deserts who are not wired or prepared for all of this. And as the President said, “It’s not just about broadband infrastructure, it’s about the system that we have to replace.” So that there’s a lot to be done. The sooner we can get the legislation done, the sooner we can allocate the resources, the sooner we can reach across America as we have been saying, “In every zip code,” to make sure that everyone participates fully. And, again, when we’re ready, we’ll go to the floor. I don’t set a date because we’re not in a position to do so until we see the breadth of the legislation, the work between the House and Senate, and the hope that we have for bipartisanship to get the job done as soon as possible.
Drew Hammill: (17:43)
And our last question comes from Chad Pergram with Fox News.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:47)
Okay, Chad, so I’ve been watching the Final Four. I think I’ve seen a piece of every game. We’re glad UCLA is going to Final Four. USC, I was hoping, but they would be playing against each other. Stanford Women are going. That’s a California piece. I myself, we’re a Hoya family. We were glad Hoyas won the Big East and that they were able to participate in the March Madness. But for some of us, there was some March sadness like the Maryland Women’s. He brings that up every call that we’re on. So between March Madness and the deep sadness of the George Floyd trial, it has been quite a time. And, of course, we have to stay focused on the day job. But Chad and I have a conversation going about sports. What do you got, Chad?
Chad Pergram: (18:41)
Well, I was thinking UCLA because Mick Cronin used to be the Head Coach at the University of Cincinnati, just down the road.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:47)
That’s where they got him. You’re right, that’s where they got him.
Chad Pergram: (18:51)
Absolutely. Now, I have a question, we hear a lot about the infrastructure bill and talking about green energy and green jobs and things like that. And in your remarks earlier, you said that sometimes when people hear the word green that frightens people, and sometimes that’s going to be the resistance to this piece of legislation. Why in your mind, when they hear that word green, why does that frightened people? And how could that potentially undercut this bill?
Nancy Pelosi: (19:15)
Well, the people I was referring to are the people who are in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry in the Congress of the United States. They know that we have to go forward with resilience and sustainability as we build our infrastructure. We would be a delinquent in our duties, derelict in our duties, if we started to build infrastructure, ala 20, 30, 40 years ago. We’re about the future. So the people I were referencing are the members of Congress who, again, defy science and governance. Science says that we need to address the climate crisis. Governance gives us some paths to do that. If you don’t believe in science and you don’t believe in governance and you’re in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry, that’s where you are. And you might call that fear. I call it lack of courage too.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:12)
And, again, in terms of those who may have some concerns about what will happen to their jobs, that’s the beauty of what President Biden is putting forth. This is about everybody going forward together. This is not a zero sum game. If one industry succeeds, another fails. It’s about all of America’s workers being equipped to go into the future with good paying jobs, not another job, but much less paid. That’s why I’m so pleased that we’ll probably be able to have Davis Bacon Prevailing Wage legislation as part of it. So for those in the community who may have some concern about what saving the planet might mean to their livelihood, we’re all in this together and we’re not going forward without them. It is a path forward that is for our entire country. And that’s what’s so great about President Biden. He’s a unifier. He’s a unifier, not a divider. Any other questions? Okay. Thank you all very much. Happy Easter. Happy Passover. Happy Ramadan, whatever you observe or don’t, have joy of springtime. Enliven in your spirits in this time of renewal and time of reconstruction. Thank you all very much.