Apr 15, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Transcript April 15
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference on April 15, 2021. She said she does not support Jerry Nadler’s bill to expand the Supreme Court. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (03:53)
Good morning, everyone.
Speaker 1: (03:54)
Nancy Pelosi: (03:55)
Welcome back. I’m very, very proud of the House Democrats for how they presented the rescue plan to their constituents over this period of the Easter, Passover break, but also our committee work period in the past few weeks. This plan is, as it’s described by its title, a rescue, but it can only rescue if people know how it meets their needs. So we had nearly a hundred teach-ins last week across the country, so that people could see how they could avail themselves of the benefits of the rescue plan, and that continues. I, myself, participated in Chinatown where I went to the North East Medical Services place, where I saw culturally appropriate, linguistically clear providing of vaccines to many in the beautiful, diverse community of San Francisco are the real model to the rest of the country. Participated in many zooms on how you can avail yourself of the benefits of the plan.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:18)
Now, some of it is easier than others. As you probably know, that 175 million Americans have already received at least one dose of the vaccination, about 160 million Americans have received their checks from this legislation. Again, those checks are part of nearly a trillion dollars in the pockets of the American workers. We said our purpose in the plan was that vaccines, and the ARM money in the pockets, children’s safety in school, workers’ safely back at work, and that is what is happening now. And so we’re very proud of that, but we have more to do. First of all, more to do to make sure people know how they can benefit, but more to do as we go forward. That was the rescue.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:20)
Next is the recovery, and the recovery is the American Jobs Plan. I think that this is not an opportunity of a generation, but of a century. I call this the promise land for America’s workers. The legislation that is being put together now, again, to build the infrastructure of America, roads, bridges, water systems, broadband, mass transit, high-speed rail, education of schools, housing, et cetera. But in order to do that, you have to have the human infrastructure to go with it, and that is workforce development, that is very much a part of all this, women being able to participate fully in how we build back better. But as women are helping to build back better, that means we have to have adequate childcare, or care for whomever women or men are caring for in their families, but that they can confidently be part of the workforce knowing that their children or loved ones are cared for. So we’re very excited about it, and that is in the works.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:45)
In March, before the break, I tasked the chairs to reach across the aisle to see where they could find their common ground on all of this. I reported that to you before we left. Since then, they’ve come back with what they think the possibilities are-
Nancy Pelosi: (08:03)
… they’ve come back with what they think the possibilities are. They will have hearings now, start to write the bill. We hope by the end of May to at least have the substantial part from Mr. DeFazio from the Transportation and Infrastructure committee. And we hope it will be as bi-partisan as possible as it is in the country. When you talk to people about building the roads, bridges, broadband, these are safety issues, water supplier, et cetera, and health issues as well. It’s vastly popular in a bipartisan way, so we hope to continue that as we meet the needs of the American people. Again, I hope it will be bi-partisan and that is what we are striving for now. It has always been in the past bi-partisan and hopefully it will continue to be at this time.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:59)
One piece of legislation that’s on the floor today about Building Back Better with women, is the Paycheck Fairness Act, and I salute Rosa DeLauro who’s been on this case for a very long time. How can you say to your mother, your sister, your wife, your daughter, that they should not receive the same, yourself, the same pay for the same job? We’re really hoping that we’ll be able to pass this in the Senate as well. You know the figures, 82 cents for every dollar a man made. If you happen to be a woman of color, much bigger disparity in all of that.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:39)
See, our work here is about meeting the needs of the American people, their economic security is essential to the security of our country. Our national security, in terms of the decision the president made this week is very important. Central actually, because we take an oath to protect and defend.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:02)
And this week, the Biden administration announced a timeline for a safe, strategic and orderly departure of American troops from Afghanistan. It’s an important and welcomed development. The safety of our troops and the security of the American people must be our priority. We remain committed to advancing peace and security in Afghanistan. I think I’ve been to Afghanistan at least nine times. On every trip and an in-between I’ve always talked about the status of women and girls in Afghanistan. It’s important to women and girls. It’s important to the whole country. It is indicative of whether they will have security, fairness, and again, we do not want to erase the advances that were made over a period of time for women and girls. And in my travels, of course, I’ve met with women in Kabul and professional women and that, and that’s interesting, I’m happy to see their advances, but we’ve also gone out to the hinterlands to see the poorest of the poor women, as well as to schools, to see little girls now in school and the rest. And just to see so much of the progress that was made to be reversed is something that we have to keep a bright light on.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:31)
I was privileged to be part of honoring Laura Bush for her work for Afghan women. This has been completely nonpartisan, in fact, if you want to say bi-partisan, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, Democratic and Republican senators, Democratic and Republican women in the House and across the country. So an event, I think that’s sort of a bellwether of how things are there and how things will be for women and girls.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:05)
Nonetheless, again, I salute the president. I’ve said this to my colleagues, we could not be better served than by this president making this decision at this time. A former vice president, a chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, a person who every time he speaks, at the end he said, “God bless our troops.” He cares about our troops. He cares about our security. He understands strategic thinking about our mission on how we protect the American people and how we prioritize all of that. So I’m very prayerful as I say, how proud we are of the action that he had the courage to take, and I thank him all for that.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:56)
And speaking of courage, I just want to say, as I was coming over here, every time I see the Capitol police, we want to thank them, thank them, thank them. And of course, I’m very indebted to my own security detail for the security they provide to me. We were very sad this week to have the service for Officer Billy Evans in the Rotunda of the Capitol where his family came, enabled us to pay tribute to him, to thank him. But in thanking him, to thank all of the Capitol police for saving our lives on that horrible day, January 6th. And again, for being a force to protect our Capitol.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:40)
We’ll be moving forward with a supplemental, I’m just waiting for the latest… I think we just got it as we were leaving here, from the Appropriations Committee to have the prioritizing of what we need to do as soon as possible to harden the Capitol, to increase the Capitol police force and its training to, shall we say, compensate other entities that expended resources on that day and since then, again, to bring it all to justice. Again, so I thank Billy Evans’ family. Of course, it always reminds us of Brian Sicknick, Mr. Liebengood, Mr. Smith, Mr. Chestnut, and Mr. Gibbons. We never want to forget any of them who had the courage to protect the Capitol, our temple of democracy. Any questions? Yes, sir?
Speaker 2: (14:45)
[inaudible 00:14:45] two questions, on the security supplemental this month. [Crosstalk 00:14:49]. And then could you give a sense of how large it’s going to be?
Nancy Pelosi: (14:54)
I’ll go back and review it. It’s about, again, expended that day, there were actual expenditures that day. And it’s about what the architect of the Capitol wants to do to harden the windows, the doors, and the rest, that’s a big ticket item. It’s how we compensate some of the reserves, in that, how do we go to that place? It’s how we expand the police force to fill in the vacancies that are there, or perhaps expand beyond that, as well as the training. So it’s about the physical structure and the human resources as we go forward, as well as bills that need to be paid from January 6th.
Speaker 2: (15:45)
And then [crosstalk 00:15:47].
Nancy Pelosi: (15:48)
I’ll take a look and we’ll see, we want to bring it as soon as possible because we want to get going. Others have informed me that it’s very hard to make a decision about, do you have a temporary fence, a rollout…
Nancy Pelosi: (16:03)
Do you have a temporary sense, a rollout sense into the… Unless you have some idea how much it’s going to cost, and you can find that out unless you take steps forward. So that’s been controversial. I don’t think anybody wants a fence around the Capitol, a permanent fence around the Capitol. But we do want to protect the Capitol and we want to protect those who protect the Capitol. But we do see this, as soon as we can, to have it be again the… To call it the temple of democracy that it is, that people can come and feel safe.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:39)
Most of the restrictions right now though, are because of COVID. And that’s not to be confused about why we can’t have this meeting or that meeting. It’s largely because of COVID. So the two, and so some of the expenses from the bill will relate to COVID as well. But we’ll have it soon.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:57)
Speaker 3: (16:58)
Thank you, madam speaker. Do you support Jerry Nadler’s bill to expand the Supreme Court by four seats? And would you commit to bringing that bill to the floor?
Nancy Pelosi: (17:07)
No. I support the president’s commission to study such a proposal, but frankly I’m not… Right now, we’re back. Our members, our committees are working. We’re putting together the infrastructure bill and the rest. I don’t know that’s a good idea or bad idea. I think it’s an idea that should be considered. And I think the president is taking the right approach to have a commission to study such a thing. It’s a big step. It’s not out of the question. It has been done before in the history of our country, a long time ago. And the growth of our country, the size of our country, the growth of our challenges in terms of the economy, et cetera, might necessitate such a thing. But in answer to your question, I have no plans to bring it to the floor, no.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:04)
Speaker 4: (18:05)
Given the potential flexibility the Senate parliamentarian has offered the other chamber on more reconciliation bills, can you give us any insight into your thinking about how you’ll approach the jobs plan in terms of, do you think you might do multiple bills, single bill? I mean, have any of those decisions been made yet and kind of, how are you looking at that strategically?
Nancy Pelosi: (18:26)
Well, right now, we’re waiting any guidance from the Senate as to what that actually means. As I’ve said to you before, I don’t get involved in their rules and they don’t get involved in our rules. However, for us to proceed, we just need to know how we meet the needs of the American people, what our goals are, what the needs are. And we prioritize that spending, how it will fit. I hope it wouldn’t need a reconciliation bill, but we’ll be ready if it does.
Speaker 4: (19:01)
Can I ask that a different way? I mean, given that also that you’ve got smaller majority to work with now, too, does it make it easier for you to split this package up into more pieces? Or are you [crosstalk 00:19:11]?
Nancy Pelosi: (19:11)
No. I’m not in… Frankly, the policy will determine the process. The process will not determine the policy. So when we go forward with what the president has put forward, as a guidance, not a bill, it’s a recommend… 24 pages or whatever, of priorities. We’ll work with the Senate, work across the aisle, hopefully, work across the Capitol, work down Pennsylvania Avenue. And I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time on, “Is it one bill? Is it two bills?” It is the legislation that we’ll need as we proceed.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:52)
But the conversation, not to take away from the conversation, is about these are priorities of importance to the American people. Air their children breathe, the job opportunities and building the infrastructure, but not only building it, the commerce that will flow from it. The broadband that we are in desperate need of, either in rural America, yes, but in urban deserts as well. So that’s where our conversation is, how we process it, we’ll see. It’s not important.
Speaker 5: (20:32)
Speaker 6: (20:33)
Nancy Pelosi: (20:34)
Speaker 6: (20:34)
A number of lawmakers on the Republican side have been going to the border, have been going to a lot of border facilities, and have been calling on you, as well as inviting Vice President Harris to make these same trips. What’s your response to that?
Nancy Pelosi: (20:47)
My schedule is not determined by the Republicans and the Congress of the United States, it never has been, nor is their schedule determined by me. I’ve been to the border many times. I’ve been to the Northern Triangle, right up until, close to the time of the COVID descending upon us.
Nancy Pelosi: (21:04)
But I’m glad you brought up the border because I do think that… And I commend my colleagues, as well as the president for being solution-oriented there. The fact is that the Trump administration made a mess because they did not share the values of any respect for any of the people there. I’ve talked about the three R’s; go to the root cause. Go to the Northern Triangle, as the vice president is going to do. Go to the root cause, see what is there. When I was there, with the delegation, what we saw, of course confirmed what we suspected about violence, about corruption. What I didn’t suspect, until I got there, was the impact of the climate crisis on ducks and the food, and agriculture, and occupations related to that, that were a source of migration to our country.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:07)
Many of these people are coming here because they are hungry. And so, we have to help there. And it didn’t help that the administration, the previous administration, cutoff the resources that were there for that region, to meet the needs of people so that they could stay home. This is our hemisphere. Since we’re neighbors, let’s be friends, Mr. Rogers. And we could have done… For them to cut off those resources, I think Mr… We had a… [Cordell 00:22:47], there, one that cut it off. But in any event, that is now… USAID has resumed an initiative to be helpful there, so that people stay home. That’s root causes.
Nancy Pelosi: (23:02)
The second R, reconstruct how we deal with this at the border. Again, the Trump people had it wrong. And in order to reconstruct, you have to deconstruct. You have to take down some of the things that they have done. And that means that we want to facilitate the accommodating, whether it’s children coming in, so that they are not in the hands of the… As well-intentioned as the boarder control is, that’s not what they’re equipped to do. They can move quickly to OOR, which is the Health and Human Services auspices, under which those children would come forth. And most people are being sent back. But you have to have a plan and you have to have one that will work. And that’s what is in the process.
Nancy Pelosi: (23:57)
And then, the third part; root causes, reconstruct. The third is refugee…
Nancy Pelosi: (24:03)
… is reconstruct.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:03)
The third is refugees.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:05)
We have a moral responsibility in the world as every other country does too, to receive refugees who have a well-founded fear of persecution or harm to return to their own country.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:18)
As I’ve told you before, and I’ll tell you again, when we had a hearing when the former president did the Muslim ban four years ago, a month ago, we had a hearing. We were not the majority, it had to be an informal hearing. And the people who came to that hearing were our national security advisors, military people came and said, “You have to respect refugees. We make promises to people in other countries that if we help them, that we will have keep them safe so they don’t pay a price for helping us.” That’s going to be useful in terms of Afghanistan, in fact.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:07)
But in terms of the border. So secondly, the diplomats, as you may recall, 1,000 diplomats signed a letter objecting to what the president had done because it would affect so many refugees.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:20)
And, this is my closer, the American Association of Evangelicals, they spoke out about refugees and they said, “The United States resettlement program of refugees is the crown jewel of American humanitarianism.” So we have to recognize our moral responsibility as we see other countries take in refugees and the rest. I think right now we have, well it’s a very few thousand and we have to increase that number. But again, with a well sounded purpose, a well-founded fear, not to be abused, but to be valued.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:09)
So again, I think that people should feel confident that there is a path. If you attack the root causes, if you reconstruct how you deal with it, and you have a value system to respect what our moral responsibility as a country. And we don’t have time for me to go into Ronald Reagan and all that he said about the value of newcomers to America.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:35)
I think we have time for one more question?
Speaker 7: (26:39)
Back to January 6th.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:40)
Speaker 7: (26:41)
In a recent interview, you suggested you may consider a select committee instead.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:47)
Speaker 7: (26:48)
Have you given up on the 9/11 stuff?
Nancy Pelosi: (26:50)
No, no, no. [crosstalk 00:26:51] I said that that was among the possibilities.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:54)
I would rather have a 9/11 type commission. I as many of you’ve heard me say before was the author of the commission at 9/11, I won in committee. I lost on the floor. It wasn’t until Tim Roemer, our colleague, brought it up again with the help of the families of 9/11, that it passed the Congress and it was established.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:23)
The challenge that we have is what is the scope? The scope, what we want, is one thing, the truth. What happened on 9/11? How we can prevent it from happening again? It’s not about reviewing the elections. It’s not about examining Black Lives Matter. It’s about what happened on January 6th and how we can prevent it from happening again? So if we can agree on scope, I think that we can agree on a commission.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:54)
The size, timing, all the rest of that, those are negotiable and that’s not the main part of it. That’s what they like to say to hide from the fact that scope is a part of the difference that we have had.
Nancy Pelosi: (28:09)
But I’m optimistic because quite frankly, we have to have a commission in my view. We have to find the truth and whatever compromise we have to make to get to that place as you weigh the equities, the truth must prevail. So no, again, if we can’t come to that, or even if we do, we still may want a Select Committee to review it because when we did 9/11…
Nancy Pelosi: (28:43)
You wouldn’t recall you’re all too young, but at that time we also had a Joint Committee, House and Senate. I was a Co-Chair of it. It was Senator Bob Graham, and Senator Specter in the Senate, Porter Goss, Chair. We were split. I mean, the Democrats had the Senate, the Republicans had the House. So Bob Graham was the Chair in the Senate Intelligence Committee. Porter Goss was the Chair in the House, but we were four Co-Chairs of that committee. And we did extensive work that was useful to the Commission when it took place. A, when it was formed, and B, the committees will always continue to do their work in terms of their responsibilities.
Nancy Pelosi: (29:37)
Whether it’s the security of this building or whether it is the fact of domestic terrorists in our country who are a threat to this building, this democracy. And that particular day, which was a day to ascertain who would be the President of the United States.
Nancy Pelosi: (29:59)
Thank you all very much. To be continued.
Speaker 8: (30:03)
Speaker 9: (30:04)
Madam [crosstalk 00:30:04] do you think that President Biden resign the Presidential Determination on Refugees?