Feb 11, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Transcript February 11
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference on February 11, 2021. She discussed the COVID relief bill and announced plans to honor Capitol Police with the Congressional Gold Medal. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:01)
Quite a week. I’m so proud of our members who are busy at work, especially our chairmen, organizing their committees, to get ready for our bill that we anticipate will become law as soon as possible, the American Rescue Plan put forth by President Biden as a part of how we meet the needs of the American people. The pandemic and the economic crisis that go with it continues to be devastating to the American people. This legislation is necessary but don’t take my word for it. Yesterday the chairman of the Federal Reserve stated that the real unemployment rate is 10%, matching the worst point in the Great Recession. In his speech he said for recovery, fiscal policy is an essential tool for this situation. He referenced that monetary policy would not be enough.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:10)
Chairman Powell played down the fears of inflation during the pandemic and noted that in his words, inflation has been much lower and more stable over the past three decades than in earlier times and that he did not expect it to accelerate in a sustained way coming out of the pandemic. As Chairman Powell said, “Given the number of people who have lost their jobs, the likelihood that some will struggle to find work in the pandemic economy and the post-pandemic economy, achieving a sustaining maximum employment will require more than supportive monetary policy. It will require a society-wide commitment.” Hence the legislation that our members are working on this week. We hope to finish our markups and committee this week and then send it to the Budget Committee next week for them to work their will on it then to the Rules Committee and then to the floor and we hope to have this all done by the end of February on the president’s desk in time to offset the March 14 deadline where some unemployment benefits will expire.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:35)
I’m particularly interested in how women are affected by the pandemic but also by this legislation. Over 2.3 million women have been forced to leave the workforce entirely, including one million moms. That’s why this bill is so important because it has a firm commitment to child care so that parents, moms and dads, are able to go to work. It has a strong commitment to getting our kids back to school, another path to the workforce for moms. Last month, January, nearly 80% of workers who left the workforce were women and in December, it was 90% of those who had left the workforce were women. The women’s labor force participation rate is now just about 57%, the lowest level in 33 years. For women of color, the situation is even worse. Again that is about the livelihood of the American people, about the lives of the American people. I talked about 10% unemployment as quoted by the chairman of the Fed, Chairman Powell. Another number that is just so sobering is 470,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus. 470,000. Again, this legislation that we’re passing now so addresses the needs of the American people when it comes to the coronavirus, about the lives and the livelihood of the American people.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:25)
We’re proud again of our committee chairs who are moving ahead expeditiously with nine committees working on marking up legislation for the American Rescue Plan this week. They’re moving forward to crush the virus. The funding there for virus production, distribution, for testing et cetera, for other fundings in terms of access to healthcare. Again the goal is to put vaccines in people’s arms, children back in school, workers back in their jobs, and money in people’s pockets. The money in people’s pockets, we’re very proud in the legislation. We in the House, the Education and Labor Committee marked up its bill on Tuesday until 4:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. Big part of money in people’s pockets in the Education and Labor Committee in addition to making our schools safe for our children to go back to school. In the bill, it gradually raises the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour, in doing so increases paychecks for 27 million workers and pulling nearly a million people out of poverty. Well over 50% but closer to two-thirds or 70% of people making the minimum wage are women, many of them women of color.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:55)
Again it secures the child tax credits helping nearly one in three adults having trouble paying for household expenses and 12 million children from going hungry, so in the legislation, we have the child tax credit. This is quite remarkable, $3,000.00 for a child and then if they’re six years and under it is $3,600.00. This is pulling these children out of poverty. The bill also addresses those who are food-insecure, rent-insecure and the rest so it’s a very important piece of legislation. It is what this country needs and I salute not only the president and the vice president for their leadership in recognizing that in this important work, but also to do so in a way that is robust, meets the needs of the American people, but also meets the needs of the strength of our economy. We plan as I said to work on it this week, next week and have it passed by the end of February so we can send it to the president’s desk before the unemployment benefits expire.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:11)
This week as you know we have seen … It’s been such a sad time for us, but as we see what is being presented, we also see the extraordinary valor of Capitol Police who risked and gave their lives to save our Capitol, our democracy, our lives. They are martyrs for our democracy. Martyrs for our democracy, those who lost their lives. That is why I am putting forth a resolution introducing legislation to pay tribute to the Capitol Police and other law enforcement personnel who protected the Capitol by giving them a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor that Congress can bestow. The service of the Capitol Police Force that day brings honor to our democracy. Their accepting this award brings luster to this medal. We must always remember their sacrifice and stay vigilant against what I’ve said before, about what Abraham Lincoln said, the silent artillery of time. We will never forget. We were so moved by having the family give us the honor of honoring Brian Sicknick. Also the Livingood family and the Smith family, we share their grief and we want to recognize the valor of that, and then also of course Officer Goodman for his valor.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:50)
But these are demonstrations of much more bravery throughout the Capitol on that sad day so we want to honor them in the best way that we possibly can and we will continue to do so beyond a medal but in our hearts. So again, as the Senate is dealing with its business at hand, I’m so proud of our … Just overwhelmingly proud of our managers led by Jamie Raskin but at the same time we’re getting our work done to meet the needs of the American people, to crush the virus, put our children back in school, money in people’s pockets, again, people back to work. The lives and the livelihood of the American people are our responsibility, 470,000 people have died and we have to call a halt to that. Any questions? [inaudible 00:09:57]
Speaker 2: (09:56)
Will the bill that you send to the Senate have a $15.00 minimum wage in it?
Nancy Pelosi: (09:58)
Yes it will.
Speaker 2: (09:58)
Nancy Pelosi: (10:03)
It will. Yes. We’re very proud of that. As I said, 27 million people will get a raise. 70% of them women and we will be sending that. Yes sir. Yes, what do you got?
Speaker 3: (10:28)
We want to thank you for the obviously compelling presentation yesterday, the video, heart-wrenching [inaudible 00:10:28] –
Nancy Pelosi: (10:28)
The managers, before you spend any more time … I have not said anything. You haven’t heard me talk about impeachment in the past weeks leading up to this. They are making the case. I am not going to be responding to what happened yesterday or what might happen today except to salute them for the excellence of what they have presented and how proud we are of them. So I won’t be answering any questions.
Speaker 3: (10:49)
Can I try something slightly different? [inaudible 00:10:50] you don’t want to talk about it.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:49)
Let’s hear it yeah.
Speaker 3: (10:49)
But if that doesn’t convince Republican senators, 67, what does that say?
Nancy Pelosi: (11:01)
Again, let’s let the presentation work its way out. The American people, we’re in a court of the Senate right now. We’re also in the court of public opinion. We’re in the court of our families. We’ll make judgments about us and we’re in the court of history. Yes sir.
Speaker 4: (11:24)
In your estimation, why was the Capitol not better prepared for the potential of violence on January 6? Why was the National Guard called in ahead of time and who [inaudible 00:11:32] responsibility –
Nancy Pelosi: (11:32)
Are you familiar with what’s on the internet now about what the Secretary of Defense said in response to the request for the National Guard? This morning I was briefed again by General [Honore 00:11:46] and we’re so honored and blessed by his service and another general, General [Singh 00:11:54], who is working with him on making some recommendations to us about how we go forward and that will be part of the commission to review the command and control, the interagency cooperation or lack thereof.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:12)
One important thing, it would be really good if the state, if Washington D.C., if the District of Columbia, could operate as a state. As any governor can do is to call out the National Guard without getting the permission of the federal government. It shouldn’t have to happen that way and if you see the letter, December … Excuse me, January 4 letter from the Secretary of Defense saying what he wasn’t going to do, it’s most unfortunate but I think everything has to be subjected to the harshest review to make sure this doesn’t come again. We couldn’t be in better hands than General Honore who has such experience and commands so much respect in this regard and then further to that, to pursue a longer term. What General Honore is recommending to us is the here and now but a larger look at how we got here, where we go from here. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 5: (13:09)
Madam Speaker, a couple weeks ago, you said that the enemy is within the House of Representatives. Given that, do you feel comfortable –
Nancy Pelosi: (13:15)
I said the enemy is within.
Speaker 5: (13:16)
Nancy Pelosi: (13:19)
Within. Within. I didn’t say –
Speaker 5: (13:20)
Do you feel uncomfortable inviting President Biden to give his joint address? Can you explain the holdup? Is it due to COVID precautions or is it largely because of these violations of the floor that we’ve been seeing [inaudible 00:13:32]?
Nancy Pelosi: (13:34)
It will be up to … Again, everything that we do in this regard in terms of security et cetera relating to COVID and relating to security security is in the hands of the sergeant-at-arms and the Capitol Police and the Capitol physician and so they’ll make a recommendation about how we’re able to do that specially. I mean how many people … When we swore in members on opening day only the freshmen member, the brand new freshmen members were able to have a guest, a child … Not even a child of a certain age, older child or parent there. Only the new members. I as Speaker of the House couldn’t have any family member there to see me sworn in as speaker. They decide what that number is and what the criteria are for it and same thing will hold for the president coming to make a State of the Union address but we won’t be doing any of that until we pass our COVID bill. That’s the first order of business. Yes sir.
Speaker 6: (14:41)
Madam Speaker, with so many Republican senators indicating that they are prepared to vote for acquittal, what other avenues of accountability do you think there will be and would you like to see for former president Trump?
Nancy Pelosi: (14:54)
As I say, this pursuit of justice and truth is in the hands of our managers and I’m not … I will have some things to say maybe next week, but not this week. Let’s just see how … What the case is and what their response is to it but I’m not acting upon something that hasn’t happened yet.
Speaker 6: (15:23)
You have mentioned a commission in the past. Can you update on that?
Nancy Pelosi: (15:23)
The commission for sure. That has nothing to do with President Trump. That has to do with what you asked about us about the security, how did this happen, where do we go from here, and it also will talk about white supremacy because there are many instances leading up to this that could have been indicative that this could happen. Acts of violence around the country springing from that. That’s not to say this is only about anti-Semitism and white supremacy, it could be about some other things. We’ll see, and how that was provoked. But in terms of the commission, we’re listening to folks about what answers we need in that regard, particularly listening to General Honore about what would be the most useful to protect us as we go forward, but next week I may have some comments to make but I’m not … I haven’t said anything. Most of our members have not. We’ve just respected the path of our managers. We couldn’t be prouder of their presentation and we don’t want any static from any of the rest of us. Yes sir.
Speaker 7: (16:39)
Madam Speaker, can you address the one argument that many of the Republican senators are already making and that is that it’s not valid to even have this trial because you’re dealing with somebody who is a former president and yet you in the House impeached him before while he was still president, this act occurred while he was still president, but the trial shifted till after he left the White House. What do you think about that argument of an impeachment occurring at one point but now people saying you can’t try him because the actual trial didn’t take place till afterwards?
Nancy Pelosi: (17:09)
Actually, again this is not into the guts of the trial but we passed the article of impeachment and then we were prepared, actually lined up to take it over to the Senate. We were told early in the day that the Senate, even though they were not in session, could receive the article and the managers were prepared to take it over. As they were preparing for that, we got word from the Senate that if it’s not in session you cannot bring it over and so we had to wait until Mitch McConnell decides the Senate will be in session which put it off until later, until the 19th and then they decided, “Well let’s do this or that and then wait two weeks in order to have the trial.”
Nancy Pelosi: (18:12)
So we were ready. They said no. In fact one of them even said if you bring it over here and just leave it with the secretary of the Senate it could be destroyed. I don’t know if that’s true, they could just ignore it and say we weren’t here, we never got it, but it’s a little disingenuous to say that. But separate and apart from that, what I just told you is totally unnecessary because the fact is that the Senate voted and the Constitution allows for someone to be tried after they are no longer in office or else as Jamie said you have a January exception. You’ve got a get out of jail free card, do whatever you want as long as the Senate is an accomplice in terms of putting it off, you’re saved.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:08)
In any event, all that I said about when we were going and all is interesting, but it’s not dispositive of the interest of the issue because the Constitution is dispositive of that. Okay? All right, well thank you all very much. Thank you.