Jul 28, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Transcript July 28
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference on July 28, 2021. She discussed the January 6 Committee. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (00:02)
… the truth of January 6th, they saw what we knew that our Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police of Washington DC were our heroes. They risked their lives to save the Capitol, our democracy, and to honor the Constitution, the Constitution which called for us on January 6th to count the vote, receive the, call it the electoral college votes, to count them and to certify the president of the United States. There was an assault on that particular day, it wasn’t just any day of the week, to make sure that we did not honor the Constitution and that we would disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. Those law enforcement officers were heroes. They risked their lives to honor the oath they take to uphold the Constitution. Their testimony was powerful. We thank these patriotism’s for their heroism and the valor of that dark day. And we thank them for their courage to present their harrowing testimony of what happened that day.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (01:28)
We have a duty to the constitution and to the country to find the truth, to follow the facts where they take us and to honor the trust that the American people have placed in us. We must ensure that the American people have confidence in the truth that emerges. We thank our heroes, more than just the four who testified, but the story they told.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (01:57)
I have quoted President Lincoln many occasions, and I did most recently yesterday morning to the house democratic caucus. And this is what he said during the Civil War. “We cannot escape history. This Congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves, no personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us.” He then went on to say, Lincoln did, “We bear the responsibility to find the truth and to ensure,” again, this is my words now, this attempt to overthrow the government never happens again.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (02:39)
This is called patriotism. It is about the Constitution. It is about the life and future of our American democracy. There is no room for politics or partisanship. I salute chairman Thompson and the entire committee for the solemnity and patriotism. They brought to the proceeding. I’m very proud of all of them, but all of us are most proud of the law enforcement officers who testified.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (03:07)
As the select committee pursues the truth, the House continues to work for the people. Right now, we have the appropriations bills on the floor that meet the needs of America’s working families. I’m always taking pride in the appropriations committee, being an appropriator for many years myself. It’s a place where we always strive for bi-partisan, we always try to find common ground.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (03:33)
The president said that help is on the way. Well, we can say with these bills that help is here with the investments in jobs, opportunity, and again, working families. That is what unites us as Democrats, our commitment to America’s working families, despite whatever differences we may have. And in this legislation, we’re benefiting Americans, working families with investments in health, education, and financial security as we advance justice, rebuilding the infrastructure as we take America into a clean energy future to fight the climate crisis. We’re helping workers by creating jobs, thousands of good paying jobs that this legislation will engender. We’re fighting future pandemics and advancing America’s preeminence in science, science, science, science, and science. I don’t really have a duty to veterans and keeping America safe.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (04:32)
At last, the Senate has… Again, I go to another subject. On the subject of the supplemental that we sent over two months ago to the Senate, I’m very pleased that we’re hearing that they may be taking up that legislation. Finally, today, it’s not what we sent. It’s certainly not what we need, but it is a good step forward. We are eager to see what does transpire we understand it will happen today.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (05:03)
There are certain things that we had wanted to have a bonus for our workers here that are not in… Well, when we see what they actually passed, we can talk about what we need to do along the way. But it’s long overdue, months overdue, hundreds of billions of dollars under funded, but nonetheless, I think the actions yesterday by our law enforcement officers and their appeal to get something done as soon as possible has perhaps even jarred the Senate to move in a bipartisan way to pass this legislation. So we look forward to seeing what they do and hopefully taking up that legislation this week. It doesn’t mean that we’re finished, but it does mean that we can’t wait another day until we strengthen our Capitol Police force, strengthen the Capitol, the actual physical Capitol. So as soon as we can, we can come to a time when families and children can come and learn about the Congress. Legislators can do their job. You all can do yours, covering it all and we can return to some normalcy. And that I guess is about it for now. Any questions? Yeah?
To clarify something from earlier, is Kevin McCarthy a moron? And if so, why?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (06:33)
I said earlier in my comments, science, science, science, and science. On almost every subject that you can name, science is the answer, whether it’s the climate crisis, whether it’s a health crisis, whether it’s our preeminence in the world, in technology, science, science, science, science. To say that wearing a mask is not based on science, I think, is not wise. And that was my comment. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Yes, sir? Yes, sir?
On the January 6th committee, what steps would you like to see them take next? And how soon should they take them? You’re about to go out on a seven week recess.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (07:15)
Well, the committee is its own functioning self. I made the appointments. We understood what our purpose was. We passed the legislation to establish it, but they will make their determination in terms of a time, place and circumstances, as we heard from the officers yesterday. That’s how you make a judgment. And so they will make those decisions. I’m not involved in those decisions at all.
You did take some political backlash for the idea of how long this might go, the idea that it would bleed into next year. Would you like to see them move expeditiously?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (07:56)
Well, what you may call political backlash is welcome to my world. That’s every day on every subject. I barely know notice. But no, they will take the time that they need. I’ve said that because we were very late in getting to this because we were striving for the bipartisan commission, which we thought was very possible. It was something that we yielded on every score in terms of makeup, who’s on it, process, who can subpoena and timing. And we wanted it by the end of March, they wanted end of December. Fine. And that was even a source of questioning the Senate, they wanted clarity about when that would be.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (08:44)
But now a few months have gone by since all of this discussion happened, they will take the time they need, follow the facts where they take them and do so in a way that is worthy of our Constitution as we protect and defend it. So it’s not about wanting to make it last long. No, it will take as long as they decide in terms of the need of time to follow the facts. But I’m not in that. They made the decision and I salute them. They weren’t right out. Perhaps you were there when they went out and said we’re going to have our first hearing and we’re going to focus on the law enforcement officers. That was their decision and it was a very wise one. Yes ma’am?
Speaker, yes. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is doing a number of radio ads in the coming days in Kentucky to promote getting vaccinated in his state. What do you make of this effort? And has he done enough to call out specifically some on the right who spreading vaccine misinformation?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (09:51)
Well, I’m glad that he’s doing those ads. Long overdue. This was so self evident and so obvious. I don’t know, maybe they were getting, to use your term, political backlash for not doing it as they now sadly see people suffering, and in some cases with longterm COVID. So certainly the Republican party has been delinquent in embracing the science that people need to be vaccinated. And that’s why when we talk about the masking policy in the House following the guidance, we always just follow the guidance of the Capitol physician. There is no discussion about, should we do it, should we not for one reason or another. It’s the decision of the Capitol physician who was following the guidance of the CDC about the mask. Well, the people have known for a long time that we need to do the vaccinations.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (10:57)
I know a lot about viruses because I, for 30 years, have been working on HIV and AIDS. My very first words on the floor of the house were about HIV and AIDS. And what I can tell you is if they, if I thought that 30 some years ago when I took the oath that day and spoke about AIDS, then in the next minutes after that, in a special election it was, a special swearing in, if I had thought then that we would not have a cure for AIDS 30 years some later, I would not have possibly believes that. We have quality of life, we have good therapies, we have good care, we have good prevention, but these viruses are very resourceful. They just mutate as they see fit. And in terms of what that means now, the mutations are engendered by transmittal. So more people who are vaccinated, the less transmission, the less mutation, the less challenge for how do we deal with this new variant.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (12:06)
So long overdue, but always welcome in terms of, as a leader, taking out ads. I’m so happy for the people who will be getting that message, who for some reason or other may have thought that that politicians know more about science than scientists.
Madam Speaker, select committee for a moment.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (12:31)
[inaudible 00:12:33] a number of members of Congress identified as potential witnesses. Those members are called and they refused to testify. What message would that send? And what steps would the majority take to compel that testimony, perhaps fines or something like that?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (12:48)
Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough. This is the work of the select committee. They will make determinations as to where the facts will take them. They have said everything is on the table, I’ve seen in their public statements. That’s how I know that. I saw it in their public statements. So I would not be party to any of those decisions. So I could not tell you what they might decide should members not participate. But-
[crosstalk 00:13:20] that members being called for proceeding to testify that they should observe those obligations?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (13:28)
Well, the question is about the power of subpoena and they do have the power of subpoena. But let’s just see where they go, rather than speculate on a place they may or may not go. I don’t know. And then we’ll go from there. But thank you for your… Yes?
There’s been a lot of back and forth between the administration and Democrats here on Capitol Hill about student loans and canceling students loans. [inaudible 00:13:54] said, “Well, the president can do this by executive order.” The president who said, “Oh, let’s do it by legislation.” Can you explain why the administration and Democrats in Congress are fighting this out? It would seem there’s not the votes to pass the bill. Is that in fact the case? Is that why Congress is-
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (14:12)
No. Well, thank you for your question. It’s so refreshing to get a question on substance and process, but not responding to whatever. Here’s the thing. People think that the president of the United States… Is this more on the subject than you ever want to know? Well, you’ll let me know. People think that the president of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not. He can postpone. He can delay. But he does not have that power. That has to be an act of Congress. I don’t even like to call it forgiveness because that implies a transgression. It’s not to be forgiven, just freeing people from those obligations.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (15:03)
So the question of who gets forgiven, to use the term that is out there, is a debate. Do we use the whatever money there is for the broadest base of support of more people with even less debt or fewer people with more debt? That’s a policy discussion. But the difference between the president, president can’t do it. So that’s not even a discussion. Not everybody realizes that, but the president can only postpone, delay, but not forgive.
And that’s [inaudible 00:15:43]. What would be the parameter and what would be fair to those who have incurred major debts, repaid that are still working to do so, and then if say something were to go through and say, “Okay, this group had to pay and this group”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (15:55)
There you are. You’ve described it very well. I do think that what the president is putting forth in build back better in terms of opportunity for all Americans, whether they go to college or not, they may not even aspire to that. And that’s fine. And that’s fine. But we do want to give them vocational training or other opportunity so they can reach their fulfillment as well. So this is a broader discussion, but it’s not one that we’re going to solve right here and now. That would be an attitude that people would have.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (16:35)
But even take it on top of that, suppose your child just decided they want to, at this time, not want to go to college, but you’re paying taxes to forgive somebody else’s obligations. You may not be happy about that. But you know what? We want all of our kids to reach their fulfillment. To the extent that they want to go to college, we do not want them to be prohibited from doing that for financial reasons. I’ve had high school students come in here and say with their grades, they’re able to be accepted in the Ivy league here and there, but their family’s economic situation does not enable that to happen because they have to stay close to home to work, to be part of the family situation.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (17:19)
So what we’d like to do is have an economy that is fair, that gives opportunity and does not hold anybody back because of financial reasons. And again, how some people may view the relieving people of this obligation has to be viewed in a fair way where we have something that gives opportunity, that’s the big word, opportunity, to all of America’s families. [crosstalk 00:17:47] Yes, yes?
On infrastructure, there’s talk in the Senate that there’s a bipartisan deal, which you’ve reached with the White House. Would you commit to approving a bill unchanged, the Senate bill unchanged? Assuming it passed the Senate, would it be unchanged in the house?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (18:01)
You’d change it?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (18:03)
No. I mean, the point is we have to see it. Have you seen it?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (18:07)
We haven’t seen it. So you’re asking me to commit to something that none of us has seen. We are rooting for it. We’re hoping for the best. That’s just good news just as we came in that it broke that they thought they were even closer. We’ve heard that before. But no, we very much want it to pass. Our chairman of our committee of jurisdiction is saying that we’d like to see it, and perhaps we may have to have some discussion about it. But I can’t commit to passing something that I don’t even know what it is yet, but I’m hoping for the best.
But you still won’t put that on the floor until reconciliation has passed the Senate?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (18:46)
Yes. Still. Thank you for your question.
Madam Speaker? Madam Speaker?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (18:51)
She’s saying that was the last question. When Drew says it’s the last question, [inaudible 00:18:56].
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (18:56)
Should the Giants trade for Max Scherzer?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (19:02)
Oh, here we go. Here we… Sports. If you think I’m in a mood, I’ve been staying up all night, watching the Olympics, the reruns, the this, the that. I just love watching it and the drama of it all too. But God bless our athletes. We admire them for their skill and their discipline and their focus and their talent. And we admire them as athletes, but we admire them as people for having the strength to walk away from all of that. Thank you all.
Thank you, Madam Speaker. [inaudible 00:19:52]