Dec 15, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Transcript December 15
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference on December 15, 2021. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
Nancy Pelosi: (00:18)
Well, last evening we had two very sad moments of silence yesterday for 800,000 people who have died from COVID. We had a moment of silence on the floor of the House, but also on the steps of the Capitol and bipartisan House and Senate remembrance of those who lost their lives.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:42)
Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and those who have lost their livelihoods as well. But the deaths are so very, very sad. It’s so hard to comprehend 800,000 people. And the number continues to grow, but we continue to be optimistic about effectiveness of the vaccines, the awareness that some people are coming to that they need to be vaccinated. They need to be vaccinated.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:15)
And then we also had the moment of silence for those who were affected by the storms. I was very moved by Representative Comer, who represents Western Kentucky, as he spoke calling for a moment of silence about those who lost their lives. I talked to him after and he was going to be traveling with the President today. So far, they’re pleased with… Pleased, who can be pleased? But have received the federal response that is necessary. And talked to my former chairman of the [inaudible 00:01:51] Committee, Mr. Rogers. He knows what we can do. And I’m sure that if there’s more that Congress needs to do, he will inform us of that. He told me that the storm, it was a mile wide. The phenomenon was a mile wide and with such force. So very sad.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:13)
Yesterday was a busy day for us legislatively. As you know, we passed a resolution against racism in our society, establishing a special council at the Department of State to fight Islamophobia, talking about the numbers of incidents against Muslims in our country.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:39)
In terms of anti-Muslim sentiments, we also passed the Uyghurs Bill, which calls upon China to end and what they are doing there. I mean, that’s genocide. That’s genocide in China. The interest though in it across our country is about the human rights aspect of it, but also the forced labor piece of it. When President Xi brings these people into these forced labor camps and separating them from their families and taking other drastic actions, he is also engaging them in forced labor and that is something that we cannot have our businesses compete with. So from a moral standpoint, a value standpoint, the legislation was very important, and from a trade standpoint, essential as well.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:35)
The big event for us yesterday of course was the debt limit, to lift the debt limit. It’s just always so interesting to me that the Republicans vote against lifting the debt ceiling or the debt limit. It is something that threatens the financial security of our country, gambles with the personal financial security of families, and again, the health of our economy as well as its impact globally. It’s one thing to say, “Well, we’ll have a few votes against it to make a statement.” It’s another thing to say, “We shouldn’t be doing it,” and that’s what they did yesterday.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:18)
Just so people know how it affects them, of course it has a big impact, millions of jobs lost, trillions of dollars of household wealth down the drain, and again, the cost to you if you have a car loan, a credit card bill, a school loan, any interest that you’re paying on alone will be increased if in fact we did not lift the debt ceiling. As the Constitution says, the full faith and credit of the United States should not be questioned. But in addition to that, even the discussion of it a few years ago lowered the interest rate, the interest of our credit rating, the United States’ credit rating, and that was not a good thing for our economy.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:08)
We should not be flirting with danger when it comes to our economy, whether it’s our national economy, our global economy, or the personal financial wellbeing of America’s working families.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:20)
I want to commend, going back to Uyghurs for a moment, Chairman George… Excuse me, not George McGovern. He gets confused with George McGovern on the food security issues, but Jim McGovern, really a patron saint to us in terms of fighting for human rights throughout the world. And this Uyghurs Bill on forced labor was his legislation yesterday. Neglected to mention that when I talked about that.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:52)
And so now we are just trying to see how soon we can pass the Build Back Better legislation. So important. It’s fraught with meaning at this time because today, the 15th of December, would be the last Biden child tax credit check that would go out. We’re hoping that we can have this settled before Christmas because on December 31st, this expires. And so it’s essential.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:26)
What we see in terms of the child tax credit is it has been used more recently for preparing children for school. It has been used for of food, for rent. It’s essential, essential that the child tax credit has been used. 60 million children benefit, a large number of them off of coming out of poverty because of the child tax credit.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:54)
So for this and other reasons, everything to do with children, childcare, universal pre-K, making childcare affordable, I guess the best two words to use, Build Back Better, I mean, I’ve said it’s transformative and all that, but the best two words to use is it lowers cost. It lowers cost of childcare. It lowers cost of healthcare. It lowers cost of food. It lowers cost in so many ways that are essential to America’s working families, the very issues that people struggle over the kitchen table to figure out how we’re going to pay the bills, the very issues, very frightening things that people have trying to go to sleep at night, how are we going to pay the bills? Well, Build Back Better helps you to do that. We love the fact that it’s build back better with women, build back better for the children, build back better for the planet, lowering energy costs. Again, it lowers cost.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:55)
So hopefully the Senate will deal with that and send that to us. And of course, we’re also hopeful that they will send us bills to protect our democracy, that respects the sanctity of the vote, that keeps us a democracy. So we’re prepared to come back as soon as the Senate is ready to send us these bills.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:15)
And it’s pretty exciting, the enthusiasm that is out there for the President’s package, his vision for our country, building the infrastructure and a bipartisan bill to do that. Many of us are having our town meetings, our public events and in our own regions and the response has just been so optimistic about how these resources to build the infrastructure in a way that brings equity, fairness, justice to it all in a green way that protects the environment and that again creates good paying union jobs, jobs that, again, protect the planet as we promote jobs, as we move commerce, as we get people safely to and from school and work without staying in the cars a long time. So it improves the quality of life.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:22)
So that’s for the infrastructure bill, the Build Back Better enhances all of that. So we’re very eager and very proud of that work. I think that there’s an agreement that can be made and I look forward to working to pass that on the House side.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:42)
So that’s kind of what we have going here. Oh, did I talk about Steph Curry? Did I talk about Steph Curry?
Speaker 3: (09:50)
Warriors [inaudible 00:09:50]
Nancy Pelosi: (09:50)
Just in the first… Yeah, the Warriors [inaudible 00:09:53]. Just coincidentally, the first few minutes, I was not by myself. One other member, Mr. Payne and I, were in the Cloakroom with Ella and, well, the women from whom I bought a hot dog to watch a game, just the two of us there. The first few minutes, boom, settled, tied. A few minutes later, break the record with such dignity, with such poise, with such discipline, with such excellence.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:28)
And then I had to go to work and then came back to see the ending and to see Miller and Jones. I mean, see the other two leaders in that field be there with their shirts. I don’t have my phone, but I have the picture on my phone of them and then them giving Steph the shirt with his number on it. I think we’ll get to 3000 pretty soon, but no pressure, let’s just win the games.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:55)
But it was pretty exciting I have to say. And to see the enthusiasm of the crowd for that achievement. Whether the Knicks fans were excited about the game, I don’t know, but there was great enthusiasm for Steph Curry. So we’re very, very proud of him. Yeah. Any questions? Yeah, what do you got?
Speaker 4: (11:22)
Madame Speaker, Insider just completed a five month investigation finding that 49 members of Congress and 82 senior Congressional staffers have violated the STOCK Act, the insider trading law. I’m wondering if you have any reaction to that. And secondly, should members of Congress and their spouses be banned from trading individual stocks while serving in Congress?
Nancy Pelosi: (11:43)
No to the second one. We have a responsibility to report on a stock, but I’m not familiar with that five month review, but if the people aren’t reporting, they should be.
Speaker 5: (11:57)
Why should they, Madame Speaker?
Nancy Pelosi: (12:01)
Because this is a free market and we are a free market economy that should be able to participate in that. Yes, ma’am. M
Speaker 6: (12:08)
Madame Speaker, you talked about voting rights. We know Senator Warnock yesterday expressed that he would like to see the Senate stay through the holi-
Nancy Pelosi: (12:15)
I’m sorry, who did?
Speaker 6: (12:16)
Senator Warnock on the Senate side-
Nancy Pelosi: (12:18)
Yes [inaudible 00:12:18]
Speaker 6: (12:18)
Talked about voting rights yesterday, staying here through the holidays to get it done, and really pressuring the White House and Senator Manchin to push for maybe a similar carve out as we saw for the debt ceiling. Do you share that sentiment and do you think that there needs to be more sense of urgency?
Nancy Pelosi: (12:33)
Senator Warnock’s statement yesterday was, I just didn’t hear what you said, was a beautiful patriotic statement about our country. He has been an inspiration all his life and now as a member of the Senate. So I completely am inspired by and agree with what he said.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:54)
I don’t know. I’ve said I don’t participate that much in the Senate rules discussions, but I do know that there are three members of the Supreme Court whom Senator Mitch McConnell got there with a simple majority by taking exception to the filibuster. So if those three people can have a job for life affecting the lives of the American people, I don’t see why we couldn’t have legislation that stops the voter suppression, making it harder for people to vote, and also now to end the election nullification.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:33)
Probably, I mean, with stiff competition within their initiatives across the country for the worst, stiff competition for the worst, the election nullification is one that has attracted a good deal of attention, because if you’re just going to say we’ll have elections and three people that we decide who they are are going to decide what those numbers are, then you have destroyed our democracy.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:57)
So I would hope that we can make progress in a bipartisan way. I don’t know why the sanctity of the vote, the fundamental principle of our democracy is not as important to Republicans as it is to Democrats and I support what Senator Senator Warnock was suggesting.
Speaker 7: (14:20)
The Democrats of course had hoped [inaudible 00:14:21] the Build Back Better Bill when it passed months ago. Here we are 10 days before Christmas. It’s possible or very likely that [inaudible 00:14:30] to 2022. [inaudible 00:14:31] of resistance from Joe Manchin, even though he detailed where he was months in that news article he did [inaudible 00:14:38].
Nancy Pelosi: (14:39)
No, I think that this is called the legislative process and we have our rules and they have their rules. And I’m still hopeful that it will pass. I’m not going to have a postmortem on something that hasn’t died. I think we will have the legislation and it will pass. I hope the sooner, the better, especially since we had certain deadlines. And I respect the process and I respects Senator Manchin.
Speaker 8: (15:04)
Madame Speaker, good morning. Thank you. The Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, expressed concern about crimes, that it’s time for the reign of criminals to end. What do you think about some of this crime, specifically in San Francisco, smash and grabs. And also generally, is there some sort of a federal response? We’ve passed crime bills here before. Is there something looking at some of these problems?
Nancy Pelosi: (15:25)
Well, specifically to what is happening, not just in San Francisco, but in other parts to the country, in fact, the retail association of the whole country and leaders in business across the country have asked for remedy. And we do have one as we are preparing the CHIPS Bill, for lack of another… You know what I mean when I say the CHIPS Bill.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:51)
The CHIPS Bill is about chips. It’s about supply chain and it’s about research. And we’re very close to our own agreement in the House on that. Within that bill, the Energy and Commerce Committee has something called INFORM, all caps, and that is a legislation that would require who are selling online especially to establish their legitimacy as to where these products came from. Because what people do is they steal things and sell them online. They have to establish their legitimacy if they’re going to be sold online.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:29)
And then in addition to that, that’s Energy and Commerce, the Judiciary Committee has a bill, Safe Shopping, which it addresses the same problem in a little bit of a different way in terms of holding platforms accountable and those selling things accountable for the provenance of those good. And it is absolutely out of the question that people should be able to think that they can just steal things, profit from them, and not have any accountability on it.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:05)
So those two things, some combination of those two things, both of them are going to be in the bill. How they come together, we’ll be working with the Senate to pass that legislation. And that’s completely in the works.
Speaker 8: (17:20)
Do you have any problems specifically about what the Mayor said about some of the issues specific to San Francisco, some of the retailers leaving there as well?
Nancy Pelosi: (17:27)
What it is, it’s absolutely outrageous. Obviously it cannot continue, but the fact is that there is an attitude of lawlessness in our country that springs from I don’t know where, maybe you do, and we cannot have that lawlessness become the norm. And these people, they coordinate with each other and they plan traffic patterns and the rest so that they can reach their goal and depart very quickly.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:06)
And some of it is, again, high level stores as the retailers have told us, and some of it is your local Walgreens, but none of it is acceptable. And again, it has to be stopped, and again, showing that people are not being able to profit from that. This isn’t like somebody’s stealing something to go home because they don’t have the money to buy it. This is about stealing for profit. They have to prove where it came from.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:40)
It’s outrageous and I agree with the Mayor, it must be stopped. And it’s not just San Francisco, it’s in our entire country, and that’s evident by the appeals that we are receiving from across the country for the legislation. So I hope that that will be soon, and for many reasons, including the provenance of the goods. Yes, ma’am?
Speaker 9: (19:04)
Madame Speaker, Looking ahead to January 6th because we may not get an opportunity to talk to you again before then.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:12)
Well, I’ll probably be here tomorrow or next week. Are you not going to be around?
Speaker 9: (19:16)
Nancy Pelosi: (19:17)
Is this your goodbye?
Speaker 9: (19:20)
But in the event it’s not, I wanted to [inaudible 00:19:23] the Inspector General for the Capitol Police last week that a lot of the recommendations are still open to better that department. Coming up on a year since January 6th, how do you feel about the level of change at that agency, the security here at the Capitol and the security of your members as they hope to spend their holidays at home?
Nancy Pelosi: (19:44)
Well, I thank you for the question. It is my hope that this is not our last meeting. We still have to deal with the sanctity of the vote and protecting our democracy. We still have to lower costs for the American people by passing BBB. And so hopefully we’ll see you next week.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:05)
But in terms of that, I [inaudible 00:20:07] this Capitol is much safer than it was a year ago. We will have a report as we prepare for January 6th in terms of the different categories, the strength and morale of the police force, the physical structure coming from the architect of the Capitol.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:26)
And so much of what is happening here is not so much about security as it’s about COVID. And so we want to be able to open the Capitol. Of course, we can’t do that without the consent of the Capitol physician and he knows of our interest and how he thinks we could do that soon.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:47)
So the fact that we don’t have as many tours and all the rest is not necessarily a security issue, it’s a COVID issue, but this is a horizon. We are always working to do better with security. And we those conversations are ongoing and we’ll have some accounting of it before the January 6th date.
Speaker 10: (21:12)
Speaker 11: (21:13)
If Democrats don’t get Built Back Better finished soon, would you consider a standalone piece of legislation just for the child tax credit? Because you have a deadline where the IRS won’t be able to send out January’s payment on time this month.
Nancy Pelosi: (21:28)
Well, it’s going to be going out today, this month.
Speaker 11: (21:31)
Nancy Pelosi: (21:33)
Oh, you said this month.
Speaker 11: (21:36)
They have said that they need it done by the 28th in order to make the payment.
Nancy Pelosi: (21:39)
Well, it’s just a question of what… Of course we could pass that in the House. Whether we could pass it in the Senate remains to be seen. But I don’t want to let anybody off the hook on the BBB to say, “Well, we covered that one thing, so now the pressure is off.” I think that that is really important leverage in a discussion on BBB, that the children and their families will suffer without that payment. Not everybody gets it on a monthly basis, but those who need it the most do.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:08)
And so we’re just still optimistic about BBB passing. And perhaps even if it were after the first of the year, which I hope it is not, that it could be retroactive if it’s early enough in the first of it.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:25)
Thank you all very much. As I said to my colleagues last night, I hope I see you next week, but if I don’t, merry everything. Merry Christmas. Happy belated Hanukah. Merry everything. Happy New Year, happy holidays, but we really are hoping very much to be back here next week. And by then, Steph will be close to 3000. 3000. I have to say when I announced it to my colleagues, some were very excited and others were like, “The Knicks lost.” Lighten up, Knicks. Thank you all. Bye-bye.