Mar 4, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Transcript March 4
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference on March 4, 2021. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
Good morning, everyone.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:08)
We are so pleased with the actions taken by the House of Representatives last night. Last night, we made just a giant step for democracy. Some of you heard us talk about it on the steps of the Capitol led by John Sarbanes and Zoe Lofgren, who are the masters of putting H.R. 1 together and also other members speaking, including Terri Sewell, who is the author of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Act. We waved flags in honor of our democracy [inaudible 00:00:44] this legislation is there to protect the right to vote, to remove obstacles of participation. H.R. 1, for the people, for the people, the first 300 pages were written by John Lewis, to remove voter suppression tactics from our political system. Some of the rest of it was written to protect the integrity of our electoral system, the physical infrastructure of our elections.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:22)
Important in the legislation is to stop foreign interference in our election, to reduce the role of big, dark, special interest money, again, to have a redistricting done by commission and not by a partisan redistricting, to have voters choose their elected officials rather than elected officials choose their voters, to honor small donors by having matching funds in that regard, and again, removing the role of big, dark, special interest money in our electoral process and our governmental process. What’s exciting about it is that it restores confidence that people have that their vote and their voice is as important as anyone’s, that yes, we can address the climate crisis if big, dark, special interest money is not suffocating the airwaves with misinformation about how we protect the planet, that we, yes, can have a background checks passed in the whole Congress of the United States to protect our children. If big, dark, special interests, gun lobbying money is not suffocating the airways. And yes, we can have lower cost of prescription drugs. The list goes on and on. We can build back better for the people in every zip code as we said in our caucus yesterday, build back better for the people, advancing justice, opportunity, and prosperity in every zip code.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:04)
Also last night, we put forward the bill that we were going to bring to the floor this morning for a vote. We had a short schedule today because the Republicans are going to their Issues Conference. We had ours virtually here, but they’re going to theirs. So this was only going to be other votes in the morning on that one bill, the debate and votes on that bill. And we decided to do that last night. And that was the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act. It was pretty exciting to have a big, strong Democratic vote for that. We had wished it would be bipartisan. It is something that we all take great pride in.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:52)
Millions of the people worldwide marched came out peacefully demonstrated, just said enough, enough when they saw George Floyd lynched before their very eyes for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Congress has [inaudible 00:04:19] we passed the bill last year, we passed it again this year. We feel very optimistic that there must be some bipartisanship here in the Senate. Karen Bass was the master of this and she is in negotiation on the Senate side on this legislation, but nonetheless, we took great pride in the fact that we were able to pass it last night on the floor of the House. Members quoting him, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” or calling for his mother, calling for his mother. Now this bill will not bring him back or Breonna Taylor, say her name, Breonna Taylor, bring them back, but hopefully it will prevent…
Nancy Pelosi: (05:04)
And I say that as one raised in a political family, where we were taught as we grew up to honor the men, it was a long time ago, the men in blue, be true to the men in blue. Now we would say the men and women in blue, we respect what our first responders do for us to protect us. They leave home sometimes not knowing if they’re coming home because of any danger they may be in protecting the rest of us. On many occasions we’re present at the annual event to [inaudible 00:05:42] those whose lives are lost. So this is not without respect for those that are in blue who protect us, but it is that respect should not be a path to apathy in regard to those who are not honoring their profession and who are unduly doing violence to so many of our young people, especially in the Black community.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:11)
And here we are, the Senate has received our rescue package earlier this week on Monday and now they are acting upon it. We’re very excited about the prospect at the end of this week or the beginning of next, I don’t know their schedule. It depends on how many bills and amendments some of the Republicans want to be read, but I don’t know so much about, shall we say, the wisdom of that or the value of the time of some of the people who are proposing that. But nonetheless, we will, in a matter of several days, be sending back to the House and then we’ll send to the president, the American Rescue Plan, the Biden American Rescue Plan, which we’re very, very proud of, which, as we say, puts vaccines in the arms of the American people, money in the pockets of the American people, children in school safely, and workers back into their jobs, among other things. We’re very proud of the legislation. We wish the Senate well in its deliberations. This is Congress working it’s will. We sent our product, they’ll act upon it. Apparently, there’ll be some changes. So it will come back to the house. We’ll review it and send it to the president. Do you have any questions? Yes, sir.
Speaker 3: (07:48)
Speaker Pelosi, I was just wondering what role the security threat played in moving the votes from this morning to last night and then also if it did play a role, does that send the wrong message?
Nancy Pelosi: (08:02)
No, I don’t think so. As I said earlier, we were going to be out by noon because we promised that to the Republicans, we would not prolong anything because they are going to their Issues Conference. We had ours virtually this week, as you may be aware, I hope you are. And there’s was starting around now, in another hour, at the latest, we would be adjourning so they can go in there. So it was really just as a convenience. And frankly, there are a lot of us. There’s senators in and they should be [inaudible 00:08:43]. We’re at least four times more people and therefore, all that that implies in terms of numbers of people in the Capital, if in fact, if there’s any troublemakers around and it made sense. I don’t think anybody should take any encouragement that because some troublemakers might show up that we changed our whole schedule. No, we just moved it a few hours and it largely will accommodate the Republican’s going to their own session.
Speaker 4: (09:18)
Nancy Pelosi: (09:18)
Yes [inaudible 00:09:19].
Speaker 4: (09:19)
There were reports that the Capitol Police have asked the National Guard to stay for two addition months [inaudible 00:09:25] how long they’ve been here. Do you think that need exists and you agree, you want them to continue to stay here?
Nancy Pelosi: (09:33)
Well, that’s a question for them. The decisions about security are made by the security leadership here and we’ll see what that ask is. Right now we have some drafts that have been put together, a draft that has been put together by General Honore, he’s briefing the leadership of committees in a bipartisan way, leadership of the Congress, and hopefully next week we’ll be able to have presentations to the fuller membership. The issue about the National Guard is one that will be made bu the Capitol Police and the police board and the rest, but I’m not in a position to respond to that. But we should have them here as long as they are needed. And the silliness of this being Inauguration Day and that in May, the president will be inaugurated falls into the realm of let’s not waste our time on it. But in terms of that, we have to have what we need when we need it and in the numbers that we need it, but that’s a security decision. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 5: (10:53)
Thank you, madam Speaker, about the Rescue Plan, [inaudible 00:10:57] including Senator Mitch McConnell this week said, “The expansion of Obamacare insurance subsidies will disproportionately benefit wealthier people,” and they argued that the Rescue Plan could [inaudible 00:11:07] subsidies to help [inaudible 00:11:07] $300,000 or more and also discouraging people from going to work.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:15)
Are you talking about the Affordable Care Act?
Speaker 5: (11:17)
Yes, expansion in the Rescue Plan.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:20)
No, this is a two year extension, an improvement on the Affordable Care Act so that the subsidies would be available to the next tier of income people. It’s not about wealth. If they want to talk about wealth, they should look at their own tax scam that they’ve passed in the dark of night in the speed of light that gave 83% of the benefits to the top 1%, forcing nearly $2 trillion of debt on our children to pay in the future in order to give tax breaks to the high end. They ought not to be complaining about some people making a little more money, getting a subsidy. Yes, sir. Back there.
Speaker 6: (12:04)
You mentioned [inaudible 00:12:07] possibly late because of an amendment reading on the Rescue Plan-
Nancy Pelosi: (12:12)
Late? I don’t know if I said late. You mean late at night?
Speaker 6: (12:17)
Nancy Pelosi: (12:18)
Oh, I don’t know how late they stay. I don’t know [inaudible 00:12:20] about their [inaudible 00:12:20]. Staying longer, yeah.
Speaker 6: (12:22)
Staying longer, [inaudible 00:12:24]. At the beginning of the year, there was also a kerfuffle over the organizing resolution. There are still nominations that are making their way through the process. I’m wondering, do you think that the Republicans are intentionally trying to delay as much action on Democratic priorities as possible because they think that you guys will lose the House next year?
Nancy Pelosi: (12:45)
I don’t know. You’d have to ask the Republicans about that. It would be curious to think that the Republicans in the Senate are enthusiastic about reading the bills and all the amendments and in fact, that characterization of what happened on January 6th, which was posed by that very same Senator who wants to read all of that. So I can’t speak to their motivation. You have to ask them.
Speaker 7: (13:16)
Madam Speaker, Madam Speaker-
Nancy Pelosi: (13:21)
Speaker 7: (13:21)
Madam Speaker, with respect to the-
Speaker 8: (13:21)
Thank you, madam Speaker-
Nancy Pelosi: (13:22)
Speaker 8: (13:22)
There are some bipartisan talks about another War Powers Resolution and I was wondering if there’s any discussion within the caucus and would they have your support?
Nancy Pelosi: (13:32)
Well, in the committees of jurisdiction, of course, there’s always talk about the AUMF. That’s an ongoing conversation that we have had and of course, that relates to the War Powers Resolution. But as a caucus, we spent the last few days on our economic agenda for how we go forward, also how we respect people in our communities in terms of communities of color, immigrant communities and the rest. So it was more of a domestic. We did have Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State, speak about some national security issues. He was fabulous. It was a beautiful values-based, visionary presentation. But in terms of the committees of jurisdiction, that would be the armed services committee, others on the appropriations committee that apply to that. Yeah, I’m sure we’ll be having those conversations. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 9: (14:39)
[inaudible 00:14:39] questions.
Speaker 7: (14:39)
Madam Speaker, with respect to the Honore review, some details that we’ve got as far as adding more than a thousand Capitol Police officers, having retractable fencing and also having a quick reaction force, do you support those findings?
Nancy Pelosi: (14:54)
Well, the fact that there are some… It’s a draft, it’s a draft. And so we’re seeing the draft and we’ll review the draft and then hear what our security folks have to say about the draft as well. I’m not here to talk about any particulars of it, but I have enormous respect for General Honore. I think it is a blessing to us that he was willing to take the responsibility to engage so many others who are with law enforcement and national security expertise to look at the situation here about what happened from a security standpoint and how we could have prevented it and how we prevent it in the future. Perhaps next week, we will be presenting to the fuller body and at some point, have decisions made about what is feasible. It will have to have supplemental, it’s going to take more money to protect the Capital in a way that enables people to come here, children to come and see our democracy in action, all of you to cover what happens here safely, members to be comfortable that they are safe when they are here and not be concerned about what happened last time. That just doesn’t have a place in a democracy.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:33)
And that’s why today, again, it has not impeded us because we only had a small agenda for this morning. Big in terms of George Floyd Bill, but the rule had been passed earlier in the week. So it was just the hour of debate and then the vote on the bill, which we could easily accommodate last night. But between COVID, where we need to have vaccinations more broadly in the Capitol, so that many more people can come here and do their jobs and the threat of all the president’s men out there, we have to ensure with our security that we are safe enough to do our job, but not impeding. I mean, I live in San Francisco, so people said, well, if you want to be totally protected from earthquakes, you just live like an iron igloo and then you’re completely safe. Well, who wants to do that? So how do we make the judgments of what is needed to protect ourselves from, what has been described by the director of the FBI, as domestic terrorist? How we protect ourselves against that makes COVID look almost doable because it is just a matter of money and vaccine, et cetera.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:08)
So in any event, we’re ready for the task. We have expert guidance and intellectual resources available to us and we will make decisions and prioritize. It’s about prioritizing how we go forward. But it’s going to be a great day as the Senate proceeds with the legislation. We’re thrilled with what we were able to accomplish last night and it’ll be a cause for celebration when we pass the Rescue Package. And at the same time, we are already moving forward with the recovery package. So it’s an exciting time. I hope you felt safe coming in today. We’re way ahead of where we were last time because we had fences and we had National Guard and the rest, but nonetheless, we don’t want to have all of that. We want to have our Capitol be respected by everyone in our country so that as Lincoln did during the Civil War, he said, “We’re going to build the dome so that people know that we are proceeding,” and that’s really what our spirit is. Thank you all very much.