Nov 13, 2020
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Transcript November 13
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on November 13. She said she is already working with President-elect Joe Biden and addressed Republicans’ claims of voter fraud, saying, “They are doing serious damage to our American democracy.” Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
Good morning. Good morning, everyone. Another happy day. Joe Biden, President-Elect. This week, our nation pauses for the sacred observance of Veterans Day. Every day, we honor our veterans, but one day is specially set aside. Just as the military leaves no soldier on the field in battle, when they come home, our commitment is to leave no veteran behind.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:45)
This morning, it was my honor to be joined by the chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, Chairman Mark Takano, as we enrolled, signed the Veterans Compact Act, critical legislation to prevent veteran suicide. As our nation confronts the accelerating coronavirus crisis, which it’s important to note that this has affected tens of thousands of veterans and VA workers, it is imperative that we secure even more funding to support the VA and care for our veterans and their families.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:22)
I also had the privilege of participating in the work of Elizabeth Dole for the observance that she had on Veterans Day this year. It was in cars at The Kennedy Center, and some of us were virtual. But Secretary, Senator Elizabeth Dole has been an angel for our veterans, and I was honored to be asked by her to join Senator John McCain and others to be part of the initiative to honor our hidden heroes, the families that care for our veterans. Thank you, Elizabeth Dole, for all of that.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:04)
Again, as we honor the needs of veterans in every area, we must recognize that it’s not just the VA that meets their needs. It’s the role that veteran small businesses play, and we want more opportunity for that. Many of our veterans rely on Medicaid. They constantly come to us and say that the Medicaid piece is important to their lives. Food stamps and housing assistance. So many of the things that we have actually in the coronavirus bill, the HEROES bill, affect our veterans.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:42)
Associated with this, yesterday, as you are probably aware, Leader Schumer and I had a call with President-Elect Joe Biden. We’ll stay in close touch in the coming days. We spoke about the intensifying pandemic and the economic crisis accompanying it and about the urgent need for Congress to pass a bipartisan bill in the lame-duck session that provides resources to fight the pandemic and relief for working families and small businesses, support for state and local governments to keep the frontline workers on the payroll, and expanded unemployment insurance and affordable healthcare for families, the healthcare piece, of course, being essential.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:30)
At the same time, as you know, earlier in the week, the administration was, instead of crushing the virus, trying to crush the Affordable Care Act. And, of course, we are very pleased at the presentations that were made in support of the Affordable Care Act in the courts. But on our call, back to our call, that wasn’t on our call, we also discussed the need for bipartisan solutions to create millions of good-paying jobs, including through investments and infrastructure, manufacturing, research and development and clean energy.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:06)
Infrastructure legislation has largely not been a partisan issue. We believe this is a good place where we can find common ground, but that is something we can work on now as we go into the new Congress. But for now, the two areas of the coronavirus and also to pass an omnibus bill in a bipartisan way, I’m optimistic that that will happen. I’m an appropriator, so I have a good rapport with the appropriators. And I think that, left to their own devices, they can get this done, as I said before, and Chairman Shelby and I had this conversation, assuring each other that we want to have a bill.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:54)
Again, our focus in the Congress now in this a lame-duck continues to be on COVID relief. This is a red alert, all hands on deck. As Leader Schumer and I discussed yesterday, this is an emergency of the highest magnitude. And yet our Republican colleagues want to focus elsewhere instead of recognizing this as a health emergency, which science is giving us a path to crush.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:31)
Just let’s again, we have worse numbers than even yesterday. Numbers speak very eloquently. 160,000 infections were reported, a horrifying number, following more than a week of over 100,000 infections a day. These levels are two times higher than the summer peak. More than 67,000 Americans are hospitalized with COVID, a new record threatening overwhelming our hospitals and our hospitals in our rural areas too. Over 10 million people have been infected. Over 10 million people. 240,000 Americans have died because of this pandemic.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:24)
According to a news report this morning, which I am sure you have all seen, it was reported that more than 130 secret service agents are infected or are quarantining in the wake of Trump’s reckless campaign schedule. 130 secret service agents. Meanwhile, on the economic front, over 20 million Americans are on unemployment. America has a million fewer teachers and education jobs compared to a year ago, and that has an impact on our children’s education. Eight million people have fallen into poverty. 17 million children are food insecure.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:08)
There is no time to waste. We must save lives and livelihoods. And yet Republicans in Congress continue their tactics of delay, distort and deny, which has led to deaths, has led to deaths. And now, they’re trying to distract and divide the country as they refuse to accept the election results. The election is over. Joe Biden is the President-Elect, elected with a mandate of over 78 million votes.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:42)
But don’t take it from me. The Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees said in their joint statement, “This November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. There is no evidence that any voting systems deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” It went on to say, “While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation in the process of our elections, we can assure you that we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too.”
Nancy Pelosi: (08:30)
The Republicans shamefully are pretending otherwise. They are doing serious damage to our American democracy, here and as it is viewed throughout the world, and making it even harder to address the massive health and economic crises facing America right now. The longer the Republicans keep up the charade, the further out of control the COVID crisis will spiral and more in danger Americans will be. I urge our Republicans to accept the facts, acknowledge the crisis, and immediately come to the table to work on COVID relief.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:10)
Again, this takes place at a time where there is a vaccine on the horizon, giving people hope, but that should also give them encouragement to listen to science on the way to the vaccine. Testing, tracing, treatment, mask-wearing, isolation, separation, sanitation, all of those things. Because the sooner we do that and the sooner we have a vaccine, the sooner we crush the virus. I hope it would be an incentive for people to follow science all the way to the vaccine.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:54)
And in that score, in our COVID bill, we do have sufficient funding, a great deal of funding, for the vaccine. The development, as I said yesterday, should be taken up under the defense bill. I just don’t know why the president is not doing that. And then also, we want to make sure that when the vaccine occurs, there will be sufficient funding and sufficient vaccine to reach everyone in our country, as well as in the world. Because as we all know, unless we’re all secure, none of us is. Any questions? Yes, ma’am.
Reporter 1: (10:41)
Speaker Pelosi, a record number of women, Republican women, have been elected to the Congress this year. Republicans are saying it’s the year of the Republican women. Is it?
Nancy Pelosi: (10:52)
Well, I’m excited that we have more women in Congress. That doesn’t mean we have shared views, but hopefully we can find common ground on some issues related to domestic violence, as far as how the women’s caucus in a bipartisan way came together in the beginning. Issues that relate to teen pregnancy have been a bipartisan focus over time, reducing that. So let’s see. Let’s be optimistic, and let us see. But I congratulate and welcome each and every one of them. Of course, we have 90. We have, I think, nine or 10 new women coming into our caucus this time. We’re sadly leaving Nita Lowey, Susan Davis, a few of the women in the Congress. But we’re happy to have all these new members, and they’re beautifully diverse. Yeah. Chad?
Reporter 2: (11:50)
Thank you. Good morning. So obviously, you’re going to have a narrow majority here. You always talk about, know your power. [inaudible 00:11:55] What is your power right now?
Nancy Pelosi: (11:58)
Oh, know your power, yeah.
Reporter 2: (12:00)
What is, know your power? What is your power right now with a smaller majority, pressures inside the caucus and your route to the speakership since you lost votes last time?
Nancy Pelosi: (12:10)
Well, let me just say on that score, and we are still very much involved in these races. We have a number that just haven’t been counted. When we were impatiently waiting for the count on the presidential, it seemed like an eternity. And now it’s another week later. So we’re still involved in that.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:29)
But listen, we had a very deep victory two years ago. I don’t think that people are quite understanding. Of the 40 seats that we won, 31 were in Trump districts. He wasn’t on the ballot. And right away, we said, “He’s going to be on the ballot. That’s a steeper climb in these districts.” And with the actions that were taken, we saved most of those seats. So we’re very proud of that.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:59)
We now have a president of our party in the White House, Joe Biden. We have a majority in the house, albeit smaller, but nonetheless a majority. 132 gavels, chairs of committees, subcommittees, and the rest, the beautiful diversity of our caucus. And we see it as a tremendous opportunity as we go forward. Because we have to address, the fact is that President Trump, to his credit, turned out a big vote. And in some of these districts, which people wondered how we won them before, they were so Trumpy, and now with him on the ballot, bringing in a bigger vote.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:45)
But we are getting ready already for the next time. A number of our candidates have already said they are going to run again. I’m not going to make any announcements for anybody, but a number of them have told me that they are ready. They loved being in Congress. They were proud to have won, and they were proud of the campaign that they made.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:04)
After Joe Biden was declared the winner on Saturday, I spent most of the weekend listening to those who did not win the election. They succeeded in their campaign in terms of putting forth their views, but will not be coming to Congress right now. I have pages, in fact books, of notes about how they saw what happened in their districts and how they see how we go forward. And it is clear that a number of the people who … There are certain issues that may have worked one place or another.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:39)
But we have to have a deep dive. We have to really have the data. And so all of them gave me their view for the moment and said, “When we get more data, we’ll have a clearer picture.”
Reporter 2: (14:59)
But is there an [inaudible 00:15:00] in any way by having a smaller majority and what that means for both the caucus, control of the House and for your speakership?
Nancy Pelosi: (14:59)
May I remind you that we have a President of the United States. We have a President of the United States. That is so very important. And whether you’re in the minority or majority, if the president is of your party, you have more power. And I think that that’s what Mitch McConnell is going to find out now, that whether he’s in the majority or the minority, not having Donald Trump in the White House is going to change his leverage and that dynamic.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:30)
But I am very proud. I am very proud. I knew it was hard in terms of what we did. I never said that we were going to pick up … All these pollsters did, and that’s another question about the polling and the rest and the over estimation of what could be there. But the fact is President Trump got out his vote, and in those districts, some of them, he made a difference. And every majority is fragile, but we’re well on our way to the next election. As we are counting still for this, have a running start with some of these same candidates saying that they will run and others who are waiting because of their own personal decisions to run next time.
Reporter 3: (16:12)
Thank you, Madam Speaker. And the president continues, as you noted, to falsely claim that he won the election in one form or another. His allies are making unfounded claims about irregularities with voting machines. We’ve seen the social media companies be forced to step in and crack down. I’m curious. From your perspective, have you seen big tech do enough, specifically a website like Facebook, to correct the president’s lies?
Nancy Pelosi: (16:36)
I’m not a big fan of Facebook. I don’t know what they have been doing, but I know they’ve been part of the problem all along. And I just refer back to the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees and what they said. The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. There is no evidence that any voting system was deleted or lost votes, changed votes or were in any away compromised.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:04)
And this is so important because we’ve had resistance from the other side in protecting the critical infrastructure of our elections. It’s the mechanics of it. And this is a good report back, that things were going well. Two, to your point, what is happening in the social media that is so poisonous to our system, and how do we have a remedy for that? It is social media. The technology is a blessing, but it’s a double-edged sword in terms of communication, democratizing the spread of information. So I would hope that they would have some sense of responsibility because they were very much a part of causing this problem to begin with.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:57)
But I do also want to say that with the president, it’s not just another branch of government. The White House, it is the bully pulpit. Joe Biden knows why he’s there. He has a plan to be effective for America’s working families, and again, he will have the stage. So it’s not as if we’re trying to get a distinction made here and presses engaged in equivalence, which I think was unfair. But nonetheless, in terms of having the bully pulpit, it’s not just a branch of government. It’s not just having the White House, not just a branch of government, not just appointments to jobs and a cabinet. It’s the connection with the American people.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:53)
President Lincoln, public sentiment is everything. With it you can accomplish almost anything. Without it, practically nothing. And it leapfrogs over so many other misrepresentations. I hope that everybody will give Joe Biden the chance to have his message out there. What I saw during the Trump administration is he could say anything, and it would be two days’ worth of news, whether it had any value or not. Let’s hope that everyone will give Joe Biden the chance. He is the president, 78 million votes and still counting. A mandate, a mandate in our country.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:33)
So my confidence and my hope springs from the public. The American people are so good. They’re very clear about meeting their needs. And one of the messages for us in all of this is the clarity that behooves us to say, some of the fears that they have, automation, globalization, diversity, climate issues, and the rest, we want them to know that what we’re talking about is we’re all going down this path together. This is not a zero sum game. If one person wins, another person loses. No. And there is a place in the future for every person in our country and how we use the automation, the globalization, and those issues in a way to give them that assurance and those jobs.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:30)
I said yesterday, it’s a four-letter word. I say it all the time. A four letter word, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, which contribute not only to the economic health of families, but the health and well-being of America’s families. Yes, sir.
Reporter 4: (20:43)
How does the smaller majority, how does that affect your legislative approach? Are you going to have to compromise more? Are there bills that you’re not going to be able to put on the floor?
Nancy Pelosi: (20:53)
No, not at all. We have a president of the United States. Remember, we’ve got to have the opportunity to have bills signed into law. I’m very proud of our caucus because we’re beautifully diverse. As I always say, our diversity is our strength. Our unity is our power, and our unity springs from our commitment to America’s working families. And that is what we’ll be talking about. As I mentioned, putting together a jobs bill that involves building infrastructure of America in a resilient and green way, doing so in a bipartisan way, doing so so that everybody in our country benefits, both with jobs, with workforce development and with services, schools, et cetera, housing in their areas. So it won’t have that much effect at all. No. Excuse me, dear.
Reporter 5: (21:49)
It’s going to require some buy-in from Republicans in the Senate, especially if they keep the majority. So how do you shift your approach on coronavirus-
Nancy Pelosi: (21:57)
I think you’re making more of … As I said, we had a very big win in the last election. It is smaller now. We still have the power of the majority, but on top of that, our leverage and our power is greatly enhanced by having a Democratic president in the White House, especially Joe Biden, who is the man. He is the one who will put forth an agenda, and we’ll work together on that as we have done, as we did with President Obama and Joe Biden as vice-president of the United States. I don’t see that as any challenge at all. I see it as an opportunity. Yeah. [crosstalk 00:22:49]
Reporter 6: (22:52)
Thank you, Madam Speaker. On what you said about Leader McConnell, can you expand on that? You said he’s going to find out. What do you mean?
Nancy Pelosi: (23:00)
Well, he’s been known to come to my office and say, “I’m not doing anything Donald Trump doesn’t want.” So to me, that was like an abdication of your first branch of government responsibilities. You’re just going to do whatever the president wants? No. This is a separation of power, something very, very important, the genius of our constitution, the separation of power. And if we’re just saying whatever the president wants, and we’re not having the input or the, shall we say, scrutiny as to what the best way to go is, listening to the beautiful diversity of our caucuses, then we are disserving the American people.
Nancy Pelosi: (23:48)
So look, there’s no question when you’re president and the president is a president of your party, your leverage and your power is greatly increased. You must know that. You must know that. So again, for the good of the country, I am so overjoyed that Joe Biden is President of the United States. His decency, his vision, his values, his authenticity and his connection with America’s working families.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:23)
So I couldn’t be more thrilled, but I also know that he respects the legislative branch and that it is a collaboration, and we’ll work together to put legislation together that will be hopefully bi-partisan and signed into law. But again, the big partner in all of this is the public, the American people. They want access to healthcare, especially during a pandemic. They want good-paying jobs. They want clean government.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:58)
That was our agenda in 2018. It continues to be. For the people, lower healthcare costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, preserving the pre-existing condition. For the people, bigger paychecks by building the infrastructure of America in a green, resilient way. For the people, cleaner government, HR-1, which will this time be HR-1 again, to end rolling the big dark money in politics and also will end a lot of the voter suppression that is out there.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:31)
So we couldn’t be more thrilled. We are sad to have lost some of our members. As I say, many of them are ready to come right on back. Some want to be in the Biden administration, all of them proud of their campaigns and, I think, universally thrilled that Joe Biden is President of the United States. Thank you all.
Reporter 7: (25:57)
Do you accept any responsibility for the loss of House seats?
Nancy Pelosi: (26:18)
I take credit for winning a majority and holding it. [crosstalk 00:26:18]