Feb 4, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Transcript February 4
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference on February 4, 2021. She discussed Trump’s impeachment and Biden’s COVID relief plan. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
Busy time in the Capitol. This week, we are doing the budget. Yesterday, I was very proud of the vote that we had on the floor of the house. You’ve heard me say again and again, that our budget is a statement of our national values. What is important to us as a nation should be prioritized in our budget. I commend the chair of the budget committee, Mr. Yarmuth, and the members of the committee for the great work that they did bringing it to the floor. And Mr. Don Beyer, the chair of the joint economic committee for his work in the debate yesterday as well. I was very proud of the vote. And remember, what we do here is always to honor our oath of office, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. And that constitution has as its preamble, our guidance for a budget. “We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and for our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution.”
Nancy Pelosi: (01:15)
So it’s about the constitution and the liberties and the form of government that it contains. But it’s also our value statement. So I’m very pleased that it passed a budget resolution. We passed a budget resolution that paves the way for the passage of landmark coronavirus legislation that will save lives and livelihoods. We hope that the Republicans would join us in support of. We would prefer that, but we need to have the leverage to proceed whether they do or not. We need to act now because it’s urgent and Americans cannot afford any further delay. Our committees now will continue to work on the bill context. That will be all .. well as soon as the Senate finishes their work, and then we pass on what they did. So hopefully that’s in the next 48 hours. Then we can signal that we’re ready to mark up the bills. We can file the bills.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:18)
Our committee will work on the text, as I said, so that the Biden relief package will put money, we’re putting money in people’s pockets, vaccinations in people’s arms, children in school, workers to work. And speaking of back to work, also this week I’m very pleased with the legislation, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021. We’ll be debating that and voting on it tomorrow. But that is very important legislation for us to have training for the workforce development piece of anything we do is very important. And if we prepare to go beyond this rescue package, which is what this bill, the bill I’m talking about now, and then to the recovery bill. Recovery bill will be about many other things, including infrastructure and workforce development is very important there. In preparation for that, this apprenticeship legislation is very important. So I command Bobby Scott, the chair of the education and labor committee, for his ongoing work. We passed this last year and it had bipartisan support. We hope it will again, tomorrow.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:41)
As you know sadly this week, the Congress recognized the service and sacrifice of Brian Sicknick, who died following the terrorist mob insurrection on January 6th. He passed on the seventh, the next day. We had that lying in ceremony in the Capitol. And what was so important about it, of course, we paid our respects and sympathies to his family who spoke so lovingly and beautifully about him. But also to see the connection among our Capitol Police and how they mourned the loss of their colleague. Indeed officer Sicknick is a martyr for democracy. That was martyrdom that he suffered, as well as the other who passed, Officer Liebengood and Smith. And we will be honoring them appropriately at some point when it is sometime soon.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:50)
But right now, when it came to danger in the Capitol, Officer Sicknick and the Capitol Police whom we are enormously grateful, enormously grateful, put themselves between us and the violence, saving lives and defending democracy. Indeed Officer Sicknick was again a martyr for democracy. His service and that of other heroes in uniform, some of them of the Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia, bring luster to our constitution as I said yesterday, and to our democracy. So very, very sad. To do the people’s work, it is essential to keep the people safe and to keep this house safe for our members, our staff, the custodians, the custodial staff who make all of this possible. For those of you who cover it in the press, for our visitors, hopefully soon we’ll have some again after COVID.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:55)
And I want to salute the general honorary for his work in reviewing the security here. I was honored that he accepted the charge to study how we keep members safe here as they do their jobs in Washington, in the Capitol, as they do their jobs in their districts and their travel to and fro. Again, the security posture of the Capital path complex, and that includes the house office buildings, this will run until March 15th. One of the proposals that he made that we’ve already have had some good news on, is that it was clear that many, that the Capitol Police had been severely affected by COVID, separate and apart from everything else that’s going on. Like the rest of the country, they had been severely affected by COVID and he recommended that we vaccinate the Capitol Police. And now with the cooperation of the Biden administration, we were able to do that, and I thank the acting police chief for her statement that she put out this morning.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:12)
Again, we had the threat from within, as you are all well aware. Some members refuse to comply with security protocols to keep members, staff, police officers, everyone including all of you, safe. Which is why we are passing a rule mandating fines for non-compliance in that regard. You’re aware of that, I’m sure. Also, in terms of acknowledging the threat, I remain profoundly concerned about house Republicans’ leadership acceptance of extreme conspiracy theorist, particularly to serve as their eagerness to reward a QAnon adherent, a 9/11 truther, a harasser of child survivors of school shootings, and a value, to give them valued committee positions, including who could imagine they would put such a person on the education committee.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:07)
Today the house will vote to remove, Representative Greene from her seat on education and labor and the budget committees. It’s just so unfortunate. You would think that the Republican leadership in the Congress would have some sense of responsibility to this institution, as they did when they did not seat Representative King of Iowa two years ago. For some reason, they have chosen not to go down that path, even though we gave, Mr. Hoyer gave the leader McCarthy, sufficient notice that this was a path we would follow. Again, on legislating on terms of the budget, in terms of the apprenticeship program, in terms of putting together our legislation for a commission similar to 9/11 commission, I’m very pleased that others and I commend Debbie Wasserman Schultz for taking a lead on honoring our oath of office to uphold, protect the constitution. But not only that, to uphold a standard for the House of Representatives that respects the institution in which we serve and does no harm to it institutionally or to our members, staff, visitors personally. With that, I’d be pleased to take any questions. Let me see. Let me see. All right, you go.
Speaker 2: (09:38)
Thank you, Madame Speaker. I have a question and I also have a question from one of the pole reporters who’s unable to be here today. So if I could, they do go together. First, just looking ahead to the impeachment trial-
Nancy Pelosi: (09:51)
Is that an announcement that you’re going to have two questions?
Speaker 2: (09:51)
Nancy Pelosi: (09:54)
Is that all right with all the rest of you?
Speaker 2: (09:54)
Just for another pole reporter.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:56)
On impeachment, go ahead.
Speaker 2: (09:58)
Thank you ma’am. Looking ahead to the impeachment trial next week, it will be one month since the attack on the Capitol.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:04)
Speaker 2: (10:05)
The former president is long gone. There are plenty of people who say, “Why bother? Why go through this entire exercise?” What do you say to them?
Nancy Pelosi: (10:12)
Well, I appreciate that question because it seems to me that the answer is self-evident. Again, we’re here to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. The world witnessed the incitement that the president caused to incite a insurrection against our government, against our Capitol, against members of Congress with a use of force and violence. So for us to why bother? Why bother? Ask our founders, why bother? Ask those who wrote the constitution, ask Abraham Lincoln. Ask anyone who cares about our democracy, why we are bothering. You cannot go forward until you have justice. And what did we say about the preamble to the constitution? Didn’t we say it started out with justice? “We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union establish justice.” You’ve heard me say again and again, Pope Paul the sixth said, “If you want peace, work for justice.” Martin Luther King, “Peace is not just the absence of dissension, it is the presence of justice.” So we will honor the constitution by establishing justice.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:43)
And again, we can do a couple of things at once. We are moving with our legislation to pass the Biden administration, Biden-Harris administration COVID package. The people, the whole world were witnesses to this, as I said before. So we’ll see. I have no idea how the managers will proceed. I saw their brief when you saw their brief. I’m so proud of the dignity with which they have brought to enabling us to honor our constitution. If we were not to follow up with this, we might as well remove any penalty from the constitution of impeachment, just take it out. But our founders they knew about two things and we keep hearing this again and again. They were fearful of a demagogue and they were fearful of a demagogue and a mob, and that’s exactly what descended. The effect of that is exactly what descended on the constitution.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:47)
But I want the public to know that there is no opportunity cost in our defending the constitution. In fact, it is an enhancement for us to do our work in a way that is respectful of the institutions in which we serve the constitution, which we take an oath to protect and defend. Your other question?
Speaker 2: (13:09)
Yes ma’am. Our colleague from the LA Times had asked that the house managers are walking into a trial where all signs point to acquittal.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:20)
They don’t know that. They don’t know that.
Speaker 2: (13:21)
Nancy Pelosi: (13:21)
They don’t know that. They haven’t heard the case. They don’t have the case. And the court of the Senate, they will make their case. In the court of public opinion, they will make their case and for history and posterity, as our founder said to ourselves and our posterity, they will make the case. But I have great confidence in them and we’ll see. We’ll see if it’s going to be a Senate of courage or cowardice.
Speaker 2: (13:55)
She asked what does a victory look like?
Nancy Pelosi: (13:56)
You know what? Why don’t we just wait and let them make their case? I don’t want … They have been very, shall we say, silent, hardworking, brilliant in terms of what we saw in the brief. Not only wise, but you might appreciate well-written. I know spelling mistakes of the United States. So again, I’m not here to talk about that because they are going to be there to present the case, and we don’t have to defend why it is necessary, and we don’t have to talk about who’s going to be there or not because we just don’t know. They know, and they will present it when they do. Yes, sir?
Speaker 3: (14:42)
I was wondering what you thought of the Republican senators plan? They went to the White House this week to meet with the president, and how much … The plan is at 1.9, Joe Biden has indicated he wants it to stay there. Is that where you think it’ll end up?
Nancy Pelosi: (14:56)
Well, Joe Biden has presented a plan that meets the needs of the American people. This is very important because we have been, let me see. I’m going to read this to you because I think this is very important for people to know. We’ll get around 450,000 people who have died, before you know it’s sad to say, and hopefully we don’t achieve it. But we’re on a path to a half a million people dying from COVID, and that is because of a complete failure on the part of the Trump administration. But don’t take it from me. This is what the GAO in our 346 page government accountability document has said. It said, “Almost 90%, 27 of 31 of the GAO’s recommendations from June, September, and November remain unimplemented as of January 15th, less than a week before Trump left office. GOP remains deeply troubled that the agencies have not acted on recommendations to more fully address official gaps in the medical supply chain.” And the list goes on.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:15)
We want to save lives and save livelihoods. It’s going to cost some money to do so, but it is a good investment. And don’t take it from us, whether you’re talking about the chairman of the fed, the secretary of the treasury, Mark Zandi. Other economists have said, even the governor of West Virginia has said go big, rather than go small. And that’s what we have to do. It is a reasonable plan. It meets the needs. It is not excessive. It is coronavirus centric. It is in a timely fashion, and that’s where we have to go, if we are going to again, put vaccin…
Speaker 4: (17:25)
How are you doing?
Speaker 5: (17:25)
Good, how are you doing today?
Speaker 4: (18:06)
Speaker 4: (18:06)
Nancy Pelosi: (18:06)
So for the Republican senators to come in at $600 billion, one third, well, what is it? Are we going to feed fewer children? Are we going to inoculate fewer people? Are we going to … how do you put that? I think they have not respected our heroes by supporting state and local government. These are the people who are on the first line, whether it’s healthcare workers, police and fire, first responders of any kind, sanitation, transportation, food workers, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers, our schools. We have to invest in safely returning our children to school. So again, I just don’t see how you have to make those choices about who you cut out when you decide to cut the funding in the package. Yes, sir in the back?
Speaker 6: (18:58)
Yes Madame Speaker. Given some of the events in Russia and Burma this week, curious if you believe that the house will move forward with any response, sanctions, anything like that?
Nancy Pelosi: (19:09)
Well, we look to the leadership of our new president on that score. I myself have been a supporter of sanctions of Burma at the time, going way back. Still call it Burma, as a matter of fact. And then, and of course, to really enforce the sanctions on Russia in a way that really reaches, shall we say, enablers of Putin. But again, we’ll take our lead from the president because he’s made his voice clear to Putin. And he said and made a statement about Myanmar. And so in Myanmar they said they were arresting her for importing illegal radios. And in Russia, they arrested for not reporting to his probation officer or something like that. So again, it’s an interesting time to see demagoguery around the world, and we have to prevent it from happening in our country. Yes, sir?
Speaker 7: (20:10)
Good morning Madame Speaker, thank you. On the budget reconciliation package-
Nancy Pelosi: (20:12)
Speaker 7: (20:13)
… for the coronavirus. Obviously there are lots of democratic policy priorities that they’d like to put in this. There’s a hearing going on right now about the minimum wage with Marty Walsh. If some of those things, like the minimum wage, don’t wind up in the bill because you have to work through this process. You have to get the vote. What’s the message to folks who are saying, “This was our chance to get these things done.” What would you say to those who are pushing for it?
Nancy Pelosi: (20:38)
It doesn’t mean it won’t happen, just because they won’t happen there. As you know, in many ways, we’re at the mercy of the Senate in terms of the Byrd rule. And again, the parliamentarian of the Senate is going to make some determinations. We had hoped she would make them by now. But until we have our bill, which we now have, we don’t have those determinations from her. But there’s so much in the package that has to be done right now and we’ll do the best we can.
Speaker 7: (21:11)
Do you have concerns on the some who said, “Okay, the Democrats are going to have the house. They’re going to have the Senate. They’re going to have the White House.” And you say, just with inside of this bill it doesn’t mean it doesn’t get done, that they will be disappointed. And how do you respond to them and say, “Look we’re thinking that”-
Nancy Pelosi: (21:25)
We already are introducing the minimum wage. That’s a very high priority for us, and we hope that we can get it in reconciliation. I’m a veteran of reconciliation bills over time. And I know the, shall we say, the struggle that it frequently is to have everything comply in a way that meets the standards of the Senate in terms of the Byrd rule. We in the house, think of it of a house of lords attitude. Why don’t we just pass what we can pass without having it being determined by one person as to what can be contained in there. Just put it on there, vote it up or vote it down. But in any event, we’re very proud of the legislation. And again, it’s not the last bill we’ll pass. This is the rescue package. This is the rescue package. We must pass this bill to crush the virus, to save the lives and livelihoods of the American people, to put children back in school and people back to work. That is its purpose.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:39)
We want to do it in a way that is fair, that addresses the disparities that have existed. Do you know in the Native American community, two times as many people, percentage-wise, have died than whites? The disparity in the African-American community and in the Hispanic community is sinful. So as we do this bill, we want to do so in a way that is fair and equitable and continue to do testing, et cetera. Distribution of the virus, but keeping a record of how this has been distributed. Then hopefully we can get to a place where this bill will be a force for fairness, rather than ossifying some of the unfairness that has gone before. Then we have the next bill will be, this is rescue, that’s recovery. And we’re already working with some of the provisions that we would have in a recovery act.
Nancy Pelosi: (23:49)
We’re legislators, that’s why we’re here. That’s what we do. And so we’re always getting ready for the next legislation. Build back better for the people. These were some of what we talked about. Joe Biden said help is on the way, and the recovery package with lower healthcare costs and bigger paychecks for the people is what we need to do. So just because something might not be in one bill and we don’t accept that yet, but if it isn’t, we have other places to do it. In fact, I wish we were talking about a living wage, but $15 an hour is an important improvement over that. I just have time for one more question.
Speaker 8: (24:35)
Speaker Pelosi, I’m just curious, as far as the impeachment trial is concerned, Senator Graham said that if the Democrats call any witness, that they’ll be prepared. The Republicans will be prepared to call in the FBI and quote, “Tell us about people who pre-planned this attack and what happened with the security footprint at the Capitol.” What’s your response to that?
Nancy Pelosi: (24:56)
Your question is a waste of time. Yes sir?
Speaker 9: (24:58)
Speaker Pelosi, are you worried at all about the precedent that it would set?
Nancy Pelosi: (25:02)
None, not at all.
Speaker 9: (25:03)
Removing a president-
Nancy Pelosi: (25:03)
Not at all. If any of our members threatened the safety of others members, we’d be the first ones to take them off of the committee. That’s it, thank you.
Speaker 10: (25:10)
Are you willing to compromise on the eligibility for stimulus payment?