Nov 18, 2020
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Transcript November 18
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference with the House Democrat leadership team on November 18. Pelosi was re-elected as Speaker of the House. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Hakeem Jeffries: (00:01)
The first half of our organizational meeting. I want to thank Speaker Pelosi and her team as well as Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren and her team for working closely with the caucus to be able to pull off that organizational meeting entirely virtually given the dynamics of the pandemic and the extreme public health crisis that we continue to confront. But we were able to convene with full participation from every single member of the House Democratic Caucus and the incoming members-elect. We are unified in our sense of purpose to go out, to work closely with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to fight for the people. To make life better, for working families, middle class folks, senior citizens, young people, veterans. Those who aspire to be part of the middle class, the poor, the sick, the afflicted, [inaudible 00:01:04] and the left behind. That’s what House Democrats do.
Hakeem Jeffries: (01:08)
The House Democratic Caucus elected Nancy Pelosi as our Speaker Designee for the 117th Congress, Steny Hoyer as our Majority Leader for the 117th Congress, Jim Clyburn as our Majority Whip for the 117th Congress and Katherine Clark as our assistant speaker for the 117th Congress. Additional leadership elections will take place tomorrow. It is now my distinct honor and privilege to introduce Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a voice for the voiceless, a defender of the disenfranchised, a legendary legislator, a notorious negotiator and a powerful profound, prophetic, principled public servant, Speaker Nancy Pelosi. [inaudible 00:02:10]
Nancy Pelosi: (02:09)
Thank you so much Mr. Chairman for your kind words. I always accept any compliments on behalf of the House Democratic Caucus because they enable any of what we do to be possible by their courage, their integrity and their just beautiful vision for a better America. I want to congratulate you Mr. Chairman on your election, re-election as chair. I want to congratulate Steny Hoyer on his re-election and Mr. Clyburn as House Democratic Leader, House Democratic Whip, Mr. Clyburn, and a new membership of the leadership, the newest member of … She’s been a member of the leadership as vice chair of the caucus, now she is assistant speaker, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts. It was a beautifully contested race, a good … I think members were pleased and that’s what I want to talk about.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:08)
I wish that you could have seen the nominations and acceptance speeches because then you could have seen the common thread, the unity of our caucus. The values and vision, the knowledge of our subjects, the strategic thinking, you hear me talk about that all the time, but all of it connected to the hopes and aspirations of America’s working families. That is what unifies us. So I’m very honored, I’m actually, I was kind of emotional earlier because of some of the things that were said in nomination but also listening to the other nominations as well as to not only the vision but the depth of commitment, the values of our caucus. So I’m thrilled, I’m excited, and I can’t wait to be working with a new President of the United States, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I’m sure we all share that view and now I’m pleased to yield to the distinguished House Democratic Leader, Mr. Hoyer.
Steny Hoyer: (04:21)
Thank you very much Madam Speaker and congratulations to you on your overwhelming renomination to be the Speaker of the House by the Democratic Caucus which was based upon your performance over the years and leading us so effectively. I am very honored of course to be re-elected as Majority Leader of the Democratic Party, Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. 117th Congress will have the leadership you see in front of you on our side of the aisle as well as some others to be elected next week. Excuse me, tomorrow. It will be a leadership team that I think will be as successful frankly as I think the leadership team in the 116th Congress was. We had a very, very successful term in the 116th Congress as leadership. The product that we produced did not pass the Senate for the most part and that’s to the detriment of the American people. To their healthcare, to their jobs, their wages and the assistance they needed in confronting COVID-19 whether it was on the health side or on the economic side.
Steny Hoyer: (05:41)
We’re not through the 116th Congress yet however and I am very hopeful, with the Speaker’s leadership, and hopefully with the cooperation of Senator McConnell and others that we will pass a COVID-19 relief bill prior to December 11. I am very hopeful that we will pass an omnibus that will appropriate for all of the government to stay in operation without any kind of pause, with any kind of shutdown. So I am honored to have been re-elected as Majority Leader. I am honored to serve with two people that I’ve known for a very, very long time. I mentioned in my opening speech that Nancy and I worked in Senator Brewster’s office together in 1964 and seeing how each one of us has now obtained the age of 52, that’s an extraordinary experience. And I’ve known Jim Clyburn since the early sixties when we were active not only in the Civil Rights Movement, Jim much more than I, but also in the Young Democrats together. So we’ve worked together for a very long time. Hakeem Jeffries is a younger member but a dynamic member. One of the best speakers in the country and a person who has brought great unity to our caucus and a great work ethic to our caucus.
Steny Hoyer: (07:11)
Interpreted means he overworks us but he keeps us focused and Katherine Clark as the speaker indicated, she has been in the leadership. She’s got a different hat on but she’s going to be in the room, in the leadership raising the kinds of issues that are critical to the American people. Katherine, congratulations to you on your election. So I am pleased to look to the 117th Congress but I am focused on the 116th Congress. We need to get work done for the American people. They need right now and now I want to yield the person who counts the votes, but much more than that, he gives us inspiration as a caucus. He gives us experience, he gives us history, he gives us a sense of purpose and of vision. The Majority Whip in this Congress, the Majority Whip in the next Congress, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.
Jim Clyburn: (08:11)
Thank you very much Mr. Leader, Madam Speaker, thank you so much for your leadership and your continued service to this great country. Katherine, welcome to this particular table and thank you for your leadership, Mr. Chairman. I often talk about the [inaudible 00:08:31] that I have with myself over issues like running things and I used to always say that the terms efficient and effective are always at war with each other. The more efficiency you have, sometimes the less effectiveness, the more effectiveness, less efficiency. That’s a rule. I want to say to [inaudible 00:09:00], your leading this morning was an exception to that rule. I don’t think I’ve ever seen efficiency and effectiveness so closely aligned with each other and congratulations for that.
Jim Clyburn: (09:15)
Steny, thank you for your continued friendship as you mentioned. With us it goes back a long, long time and I’ve enjoyed working here with you to being a whip and have the benefit of the experience of a speaker who once served as whip, a leader who once served as whip, they go to bed praying for me pretty often and I thank them for their prayer.
Jim Clyburn: (09:46)
I said when I accepted this re-election this morning that Lyndon Johnson, he started his career as a public school teacher in a little Mexican-American school down in Texas. Talked about starting before classroom and watching the children [inaudible 00:10:18] have an uncertain future. That’s the way I started my career and I cannot tell you what it does to you to stand before a classroom and see a kid that you know that’s not had breakfast, trying to learn. That’s the kind of challenge that we have today and COVID-19 has exposed how serious that challenge is. We must in this Congress respond to the dreams and aspirations of the children and their families and I am hopeful that we can work together within our caucus and reaching out across the aisle to get done what needs to be done for the American people. This is a very important … Let’s just say journey towards a more perfect union and I’m pleased to be a part of this leadership and I’m looking forward to us getting some things done for the American people, it is my great pleasure. Now I yield to the assistant speaker for the 117th Congress, Katherine Clark.
Katherine Clark: (11:49)
Thank you so much Mr. Whip and to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Just so grateful to your leadership, your mentorship and your friendship and to Steny Hoyer, our Majority Leader, an incredible inspiration, someone who keeps our caucus so together. To you Mr. Clyburn, we owe you our democratic republic and we are so grateful for everything you do for this caucus and to my partner, Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, it has been a pleasure to serve with you as your vice chair and I am honored and humbled by the election today and to join the leadership team in this new role as assistant speaker and I can tell you this about our caucus. We are the guardians of people’s hopes and aspirations and we are going to be the unified engine for change. We are going to see and help the American people with the pain they’re suffering, through the loss of life and livelihood from this pandemic and the racial and economic injustices that they are facing. This caucus is ready to serve, ready to lead and I am humbled and grateful for everyone on this leadership team and to the caucus for my election to it. Thank you, and I yield back to our chairman.
Hakeem Jeffries: (13:25)
Thank you Madam Assistant Speaker. Any questions, we have time for a question or two.
Speaker 6: (13:32)
I wanted to ask the speaker, can you talk a little bit about how you plan to unify the caucus after the election in which you lost seats and there’s going to be a narrower majority now. How do you plan to govern moving forward? How can you ensure that you can pass meaningful legislation with just a few vote margin?
Nancy Pelosi: (13:52)
Let me first thank you for your question but thank our colleagues for their leadership and their remarks. One thing that we all agree on in our caucus and in this leadership and those who will be elected tomorrow is that elections are about the future. It’s about the future, we can talk about our founders and the inspiration they are, we honor them. We can talk about our relationships and how they serve us well in our leadership roles, but the fact is it’s all looking forward, looking to the future and our caucus is unified in that respect. Looking to the future for America’s working families. For the people we will lower healthcare costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, preserving the pre-existing condition, benefit [inaudible 00:14:44] for the people we will increase paychecks by building infrastructure in a green resilient way and for the people we will have cleaner government.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:53)
So we have had a tremendous amount of unity. The fact is we have fewer members but the White House, but the White House is a source of … We’re sad to have lost the members we have, we’re ready to go again, we’re preparing for that, we have been preparing for that. Some of our colleagues are ready to go again, some are thinking about it. So we just see the next election right on the horizon. But I want to remind, because I tried to win the House when I wasn’t in the leadership and then when I was, when the Republicans had a six or seven vote majority. People forget that, like four or … You look at … Do we have [inaudible 00:15:36] known to you. So they make it look like this is historic. No, they had a smaller majority, now we don’t know what our outcome will be. We’re still in New York … New York, Iowa and California so we’ll see what that comes out to but having the majority, having the [inaudible 00:15:55], holding the House and winning the White House is time, it is opportunity for us to work together with the president and having a president is a unifying … Has a unifying impact as well, especially when he’s a unifier like Joe Biden.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:17)
So I’m excited about the prospect and sometimes when there’s a smaller number, people see the urgency of listening to each other, respecting each others’ voice, because we all have to go down the path mostly together.
Speaker 7: (16:32)
[inaudible 00:16:32] Thank you. Madam Speaker, my question’s for you. At the start of this –
Nancy Pelosi: (16:39)
Excuse me, unless any of our other colleagues want to address [inaudible 00:16:41]
Steny Hoyer: (16:43)
Nancy, I would simply add. We have been united. We are united and we’ll be united going forward. [inaudible 00:16:54]
Nancy Pelosi: (16:53)
That’s good. I’m excited about it, yeah.
Speaker 7: (16:57)
At the start of this Congress there was a lot of discussion about possibly putting in place some kind of term limits for this leadership team. I’m curious if you anticipate that this coming Congress would be your last as Speaker.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:09)
Well let me just say that when that conversation took place there was a move to put limits on the leadership and the chairs of committees. They said they were going to do it, they didn’t do it, but I said then … What I said then is whether it passes or not, I will abide by those limits that are there.
Speaker 7: (17:33)
So that is a sort of Shermanesque kind of statement here? I mean do you anticipate –
Nancy Pelosi: (17:40)
No it’s not. It’s a statement that I made. It’s a statement that I made and we are … Listen. If my husband is listening, don’t let me have to be more specific than that because we never expected to have another term now. I consider this a gift and I can’t wait to be working with Joe Biden and preparing us for our transition into the future. I don’t want to undermine any leverage I may have but I made the statement. Mr. Leader, Mr. Chairman, anybody [inaudible 00:18:15]. You’re presiding so I didn’t want to call on people [inaudible 00:18:18].
Hakeem Jeffries: (18:19)
Okay. Let me just simply say we’re focused on the future and all that needs to happen and the speaker was elected with unbridled enthusiasm.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:30)
It was great.
Hakeem Jeffries: (18:31)
From the House Democratic Conference.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:34)
[inaudible 00:18:34]. Without any of those people who voted for me saying is this your last term, but nonetheless –
Hakeem Jeffries: (18:43)
Nancy Pelosi: (18:44)
Speaker 8: (18:45)
Sorry, I know that Leader Hoyer touched on that you guys do have a lot to get done before the end of the 116th Congress. I wanted to know, when you guys are looking at a potential COVID relief bill, government funding, could you put those two things together or do you anticipate that your talks with Secretary Mnuchin and Leader McConnell will start –
Nancy Pelosi: (19:03)
Well let me just say this because I appreciate your question. I see in one of the local metropolitan journals that we postponed doing a bill until after the election. Not at all. Our bill passed in the middle of May. Since then people have died because the Republicans in the House and Senate would not sign up to crush the virus, would not honor our heroes, would not respect the needs of America’s working families. So we have been there since the middle of … Middle of November now, for a long time now. So when they said, “Oh they were just trying to wait until after the election,” no we weren’t, because every day, people are dying and we need this to happen. So we’re hoping, Chuck Schumer and I, you probably saw our letter that we sent to McConnell to say we’ve got to get this done and this article said I should have settled for a smaller deal.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:02)
Not a … It was a smaller deal, it was a deal that did not have crushing the virus, adequately honoring our heroes, adequately addressing the needs of America’s working families, it wasn’t a question of dollars, it wasn’t a question of what it would be spent on. While they hesitated to do anything for earned income tax credit, child tax credit to prevent poverty, they didn’t hesitate to give $150 billion in tax breaks to the richest people in America. So we have our difference of opinion but you would think that now [inaudible 00:20:39] a quarter of a million people die, over 11 million infected, that at least now with the prospect, the promise of a vaccine, they might want to implement some of the things that take us down that path.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:53)
I don’t know whether any of it would be part of … We will pass an omnibus, we don’t want a CR, we are on a good path to do that. I would hope that they would want to do something similar with the coronavirus. Thank you.
Hakeem Jeffries: (21:09)
Thank you everyone. Thank you.
Speaker 9: (21:12)
Have you heard back from McConnell on your letter?
Speaker 10: (21:15)
Are you concerned about coronavirus in the Capitol?
Speaker 11: (21:19)
We all are. Yeah.