Dec 4, 2020
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Transcript December 4
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference on December 4. She discussed coronavirus relief and said she sees “momentum” for a solution to be reached soon. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
… that included Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, now chair of the Appropriations Committee, following in the footsteps of the first woman to serve in that capacity, Nita Lowey, paving the way. All three candidates were women for chair of Appropriations. The chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Greg Meeks of New York, he … did I say Rosa is of Connecticut? Greg Meeks of New York, following in the footsteps of another New Yorker, Eliot Engle. And the chair of the Ag Committee, David Scott from Georgia, the first African-American ever chosen to be the chair of the Agriculture Committee, pretty exciting, following in the footsteps, the great leadership of Colin Peterson. Greg Meeks, also African-American, so it was pretty historic, a woman and two African-Americans in the contested races. But throughout our leadership, half the leadership are either women or people of color in the chairs of the committee. There are more chairs to be announced, but these were the ones that related to rules and budget, related to the Steering and Policy Committee. So those were two of the speakers announcements that I made. There are others that will follow.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:18)
But as I said to the members then, the gavels, we held the House, we’ll hold the gavels. 132 of them starting with the 18 that were chosen yesterday. But I’m excited about it because when they made their presentations over several days this week, it was a demonstration of values, of knowledge, of commitment to America’s working families in every one of our committees and the beautiful diversity of those committees as well. So it was a cause for celebration.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:53)
Let me do this right … it hurts, but it may stay up. We are in the lame duck session. We have important work to do here. We spent a good deal of first part of lame duck on the National Defense Authorization legislation. I want to salute our chairman, Adam Smith, and Mr. Thornberry, the ranking member for the great bipartisan legislation they put together. This is the national security oath we take to protect and defend our constitution, our country and I’m very, very proud of the work that went into it and now will come to the floor next week.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:43)
Our leader, Mr. Hoyer will be talking about scheduling there, but I want to reference some of what Adam Smith and Mac Thornberry said about the bill and their statement or the conference report. Among the provisions we are most proud of, and we joined them in this, the authorization of hazardous duty pay for our service men and women and members in harms way. Improvements in military housing and programs for military families and children with special needs. The quality of life for our military families is very essential to our national security. Addressing the shortest of military childcare, authorizing $8.4 billion in military construction projects to fortify critical infrastructure and base realignment and closure clean up, very essential. Important new tools to deter China and Russia. Reforms to make the Pentagon more efficient, innovative, and cost effective. Significant bipartisan provisions on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity and provisions that strengthen our alliance with Israel.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:50)
I especially want to acknowledge how pleased we are with the leadership also of Congressmen Anthony Brown, a member of the committee, a veteran of our services, a decorated member of the military, who now serves in the House, Anthony Brown. We included the process of changing the names of military bases, purposefully named for white supremacists. How could that have been? They just decided to name the basis for white supremacists. I’m so happy personally, because I have four brothers who served in the Army and they served in many of those bases around the country. And we would always just say, “Why is that?” Now, it isn’t. But it also provides long overdue benefits to veteran area veterans, who were impacted by Agent Orange. This was really important to many of us. This issue was long overdue when we passed it, now it needed to be improved and they do so in the bill.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:01)
And again, get back to the bases. It reflects our highest ideals as Americans. We urge the president to sign the NDA, which has been passed on a bipartisan basis for 59 years, this will be 60. So again, this is very, shall we say intensive in terms of the attention it requires our members. We’re constantly working on it. And that’s why I wanted to take the time and to take the pride in this legislation. As you know, we are engaged in the talks on the omnibus bill. When I spoke to Leader McConnell yesterday, we talked about the possibility of putting a COVID package on the omnibus bill, but he and I being appropriators know that if you’re going to do that, you have to have an omnibus bill. And so we have to work through all of the provisions that are still unresolved there.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:05)
We’re making progress. Madam chair, Nita Lowey, and chair Richard Shelby on the Senate side have come to great agreement on the 302Bs. That’s more appropriations talk and how they would proceed. They’ve made great progress, more needs to be done. And at the same time, simultaneous with that, we’re working on a COVID package. And on Wednesday was our deadliest day. Every day that anyone dies is a complete tragedy for our country. 2,800 hundred Americans lost.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:46)
We believe that one of the saddest parts of it is the neglect that this administration has paid delay, denial, distortion, hoax. And now finally, we have a new dynamic, a new president in a little more than a month, committed to crushing the virus. A new dynamic, a vaccine, a successful vaccine, more than one successful vaccines, to make all the difference a world. That is imminent. Until the inauguration and the emergence of the vaccine, which will be soon, but not for everyone just because of the quantity needed and the money needed to go from vaccine from the lab to vaccination to the arm.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:42)
And that is going to require more than we’re talking about now, but what Joe Biden has been talking about. Leader Schumer and I believe that the framework, the bipartisan framework unveiled by the senators in a bipartisan way with the support of House members, Josh Gottheimer and a house from our side on both sides of the aisle could be the basis for real bicameral negotiations. That’s not text yet, it’s a framework. So as they work on the text, we hope it’ll take us very close to something we can put into the omnibus, which is at the same time being written. President-elect Biden has said that this package would be at best, just a start. And that’s how we see it as well. It’s less money, but over a shorter period of time. And we need to do it to save lives and livelihood with the hope that much more help is on the way.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:51)
Again, this vaccine has had such high 95%, was the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccine give us great hope. But again, we have to have the resources to exercise our options that we have to buy the vaccine. We would hope that the president would immediately call upon the Defense Production Act to produce the vaccine. That’s what it is going to require to have the amount that we need. And then have the logistics, the money there for the states too. And that further highlights the need for funding for state and local government. Because we can pay for the vaccine, we can pay for its delivery, but it’s ministration of it by healthcare professionals and others still needs to be funded as well. So that’s good news that help is on the way from Joe Biden who sees the need. We had some not so good news on the job front that further necessitates our taking action to crush the virus, to open up the economy, to open up our schools, but in order to do so, we must do so safely.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:16)
Science-based in our approach on all of it. You probably did see the jobs report this morning, which is further indicative of the need for us to have crush the virus so the economy can get going. So all of that is to come to this place to say, there is momentum. There is momentum with the action that the Senators and House members in a bipartisan way have taken with them. It could provide meaning relief for millions who are suffering, economically, personally health-wise. And so I’m pleased that the tone of our conversations is one that is indicative of the decision to get the job done. With that, I’ll take any questions you may have.
Speaker 2: (11:08)
[crosstalk 00:11:08] Thank you so much. I heard what you said about momentum. Realistically, how soon do you and Leader McConnell need to cut a deal in order to have a package to vote on before the holidays?
Nancy Pelosi: (11:26)
Well, we had the time to do it. Again, we won’t have it on the omnibus. You had to have an omnibus, and we’re hoping that that will accelerate the discussions on the omnibus. We are going to keep government open. We’re not going to have a continuing resolution, but we need to take the time to do that. And then as I said, we saw a framework, now they have to turn it into text. So we’ll take the time we need and we must get it done and we must get it done before we leave. We cannot leave without it.
Speaker 3: (12:07)
So does that mean you have about a week to negotiate?
Nancy Pelosi: (12:07)
It doesn’t matter. We will take the time that we need. And the question is when will the text be ready so that we can combine it into the … the omnibus is not finished yet, we have a number of what we call ash and trash. It’s a lot of other issues that need to be resolved. And they’re in the course of doing that. And I don’t want to in any way, undermine the great bipartisan negotiations that are going on between the Democrats and Republicans. Senator Shelby, as the chair of the Appropriations Committee in the Senate, Nita Lowey as the chair in the House, their staff working together. So don’t worry about a date. It will be in sufficient time for us to get it done. The sooner, the better, but not at the expense of the initiatives that we need to address in the bills.
Speaker 4: (13:14)
Thank you. So just to be clear, when you said no continuing resolution.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:17)
Speaker 4: (13:19)
I understand that. But if you are on the precipice of getting a coronavirus deal done and if you are on the-
Nancy Pelosi: (13:26)
It won’t be long before that.
Speaker 4: (13:29)
Okay, but what shifted in your opinion, when the problem solvers caucus and a much larger bill a few months ago you did not like that [inaudible 00:13:38]. What has shifted that when they’re onboard with this piece, [inaudible 00:13:41]?
Nancy Pelosi: (13:42)
Perhaps you missed what I said earlier. Joe Biden committed to ending and crushing the virus and having a build a better America of initiative, big, back, better. A vaccine, the answer to our prayers, an answer to our prayers of 95% effectiveness in terms of Pfizer and Moderna. And there may be others coming forward. That is a total game changer, a new president and a vaccine. So, what was it then before was not more of this. This has simplicity. It’s what we’ve had in our bills. It’s for a shorter period of time, but that’s okay now, because we have a new president. A president who recognizes that we need to depend on science to stop the virus. A president who understands that America’s working families need to have money, their pockets in a way that takes them into the future, without any of the contraptions of any of the other bills that the administration was associating itself with before. We feel very excited about the prospect that the there’s a bipartisan deal, because I told members I’m not bringing any more bills that are not bipartisan.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:13)
We wanted to show what needs to be done in the interest of negotiation. They’re negotiating. It’s a good product. It’s not everything we want, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want the Republicans to think that this is a dream come true. It is not, but it is a path forward. Yeah.
Speaker 5: (15:38)
[inaudible 00:15:38] months ago, when you said I would not accept that below-
Nancy Pelosi: (15:40)
I’m going to tell you something. Don’t characterize what we did before as a mistake as a preface to your question, if you want an answer. That was not a mistake, it was a decision. And it has taken us to a place where we can do the right thing without other, shall we say considerations in the legislation that we don’t want. Now that is it. Now, the fact is I’m very proud of where we are.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:06)
My chairs have worked very hard on all of this. They were not even happy with a proposal that we made the other day before we saw this proposal. They thought we had come back to too small. So it’s not about an … it’s about how we address the needs of the American people. And we have to do it in a scientific way, and we’d have to do it in a way that recognizes people need food on the table. They need to get their rent paid. They need money in their pockets. They need their unemployment insurance to be there. They do not need a whole cacophony of other things that are on the agenda that had nothing to do with meeting their needs. So we’re very pleased at where it is. And as I say, with a Democratic president, committed to a scientific solution for this, with the idea that we will have a vaccine, it’s a complete game changer from them.
Speaker 6: (17:10)
The petition that-
Nancy Pelosi: (17:12)
Speaker 7: (17:13)
Thank you. Joe Biden said that on his first day in office, you’ll use Title IX to give transgender students access to sports bathrooms and locker rooms in accordance that their gender identity in all federally funded schools, does he have the power to unilaterally do this? And do you agree with that?
Nancy Pelosi: (17:28)
Yes. And I think he does. Yes, ma’am?
Speaker 6: (17:31)
Speaker Pelosi. The petition that Rita Hart is going to file soon as far as her race is concerned over in Iowa. How is the House going to prevent a situation that was seen in 1985, between McCloskey and his Republican opponent? And would you encourage the loser of the New York 22 race could do the same thing if their recount, is in a very slim margin?
Nancy Pelosi: (18:01)
The issue relating to Iowa is that an issue for the House Administration Committee. It is my understanding that Rita Hart, an excellent candidate for Congress, will be asking the House to take this up. But for further information about the technicalities of that, that becomes a House, not a political, but a House administration matter. House decides who it will seat. We don’t have any idea … New York is a completely different situation.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:35)
New York’s a completely different situation. New York, there could be 1500, 5,000 votes not counted yet. So that is going into the court. I think Monday is the day in the court. And that is what is … we’ll see what happens in the court. And that may end up in the counts. I don’t know. But the court will decide which votes will be counted, but that’s like down to 12 volts. It’s interesting, people should know, everyone should know his or her vote counts. Six votes or what the spread is at the moment in Iowa. 12 votes. Now this is on the basis of hundreds of thousands of votes cast, of hundreds of thousands of votes cast. So, it is one of those matters that time will tell, we’ll see what the court says. We’ll see what the House administration options are and what they decide to do as they go forward. Here.
Speaker 8: (19:39)
I just want to get a clarification as it relates to your conversations with Leader McConnell. So is this now a situation we were expecting an omnibus and any sort of relief to be mashed in the one piece of legislation?
Nancy Pelosi: (19:54)
That would be our hope because that is the vehicle leaving the station. And I was pleased that he wanted to do it that way, because that’s what we thought would be the best way to do. The vehicle’s leaving the station, in other words, you see a bill come to the floor, you don’t see the whole underpinnings or the orchestration of what it takes to get to a place. So if there’s a vehicle and we can add this language, once we see the text, that is what we would be doing.
Speaker 8: (20:27)
Would you need an agreement on both components to bring something to the floor?
Nancy Pelosi: (20:31)
Yeah. Yep, yep. That’s what we’re working on. Yes, because we would want a big strong vote as we will have getting back to our earlier, on the National Defense Bill. We’re very proud of the bipartisanship that has gone into that. The quality of life issues there for military families, also the system to change the names of the bases that were named for white supremacists, in some cases, by design named for former members of the Confederacy, well after the Civil War. So again, there are many things in there about our practical responsibility of protecting and defend, but also about our values. For us, that was not a provision or an issue, it was an ethic. It was a value. Thank you all very much.