Nov 20, 2020
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Transcript November 20
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference on November 20. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
Choices they make for our democracy, for our freedom. This year, we won’t be able to be joining each other in the traditional way, but virtually, we’ll come together to thank God for our blessings. As we do so though, it will be with great pain. Great pain that in our country, and this course of this year, 250,000 Americans have lost their lives to the coronavirus. Daily cases have averaged over 160,000 in this past week. Hospitalizations have set a national record for three days in a row last week and over 11 million, it’s 11.7 million and growing have been, people have been infected. Cases are set to rise. On the economic front, 20 million Americans are on unemployment, with the benefits soon to, set to expire and millions have fallen into poverty and are food insecure and face the threat eviction.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:13)
This is what is in our hearts. Sadly, a traditional, some of the things that we do regularly, but especially at Thanksgiving to minister to those who are food insecure and the rest will not actually be possible, but nonetheless, we must try. We are in a full-blown economic and health catastrophe, and it’s amazing to see the patience the GOP has for other people suffering. In another week, a few weeks, we’ll observe the eighth anniversary of Sandy Hook. Eight years ago, we saw the unspeakable horror of innocent children being gunned down at Sandy Hook. The people cried out for gun violence prevention, but the Republicans just brushed it off. This too, shall pass.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:13)
Several months ago, we all watched a murder of George Floyd. The American people poured into the streets. In fact, people all over the world poured into the streets for days and in some cases, weeks, but Republicans ignored that, refused to pass legislation. This too shall pass. Now 250,000 Americans, as I mentioned are dead. The number’s rising. Over six months ago, when we passed the Heroes Act, Leader McConnell said, “We need a pause. We need a pause.” Well, I would hope that for him, the pause can come to an end. Nearly 200,000 people have died during that pause. We’re asking him, come back to the table. A few days ago, Leader Schumer and I sent him a letter, which you’ve all seen, asking the Republicans to come back to the table, to meet the needs of the American people, which they have been willing to ignore.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:31)
We would like to extend some of the provisions of the CARES Act, which are set to expire the end of this year. We want to, again, add to that, meeting the food needs. 17 million children in America are food insecure, and we have a hard time getting to put food, addressing those food needs into legislation. We must have that. The American people want that. That’s part of our value system. Again, let’s have help with rental assistance. Okay, have a moratorium, but unless the rent is paid, people are not going to be able to stay in their homes and their landlords, they’re not going to be able to pay the bank. This helps everybody. It has become clear in the past six months that we needed more PPP to help our small businesses.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:28)
Let’s work that in, as we have tightened our belts, any number of times in our Heroes Act, and once again, a month ago to include PPP. The list goes on and on, but some of these things about unemployment insurance, food security, stopping evictions, PPP to keep our businesses, small businesses thriving, and they have refused to crush the virus. They even admitted they had no intention of controlling it, much less crashing it. It is my hope that with the vaccine now, with the vaccine, that will give a different perspective across the threshold. To say there is a light at the end of the tunnel, so that the president and the administration and the Republicans can say, “Yes, we should follow science in a shorter period of time than we’ve been through already.”
Nancy Pelosi: (05:31)
If we test, trace, treat, wear our masks, social distance, sanitation, recognizing that the hit that this is taking on to communities of color. If we do what is in the Heroes Act in this regard, we’ll be ready for the vaccine to have a big effect right from the start, and in light of the vaccine as we have in the Heroes Act, and perhaps we should do more now because the vaccine is here. It’s imminent. That we should having the resources to make sure that the vaccine is distributed immediately, equitably, so that everyone has access to it. In that regard, though, for that to happen, the president must, must, must implement the Defense Production Act, so that those companies, those entities that are used to this new technology that both Pfizer and Moderna have used, can undertake making this vaccine more available. Because we’re going to need quite a bit for ourselves and for the world, because unless everyone is safe, as I said, nobody is safe.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:55)
Let’s hope that it’s time for McConnell’s pause to end. We have been working on the Omnibus Bill, and I thought that would be a segue into this. Let’s hope that it is. Again, it is curious to see how they are trying to impede progress. In another misguided act of irresponsibility, Secretary Mnuchin has said he would end many critical emergency lending initiatives at the end of the year. Now, why would they do that? Drawing a rare rebuke from the Fed. Fed rarely speaks out. As the Fed said in its statement, it would prefer the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic to continue to serve their important role as a backstop for our still strained and vulnerable economy.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:02)
The Fed. The Fed would prefer the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic, continue to serve their important role as a backdrop for our still strained and vulnerable economy. It’s highly unusual for the fed to comment in that manner on something said by the Secretary of the Treasury. Again, why, why? Because they want to impede the ability of the next administration to have everything available to them. The situation could not be more dire. The need for action could not be more urgent. Real meaningful relief is desperately needed. No surprise to anyone, perhaps except Mitch McConnell.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:55)
The families are losing lives and livelihoods. The hospitals are overwhelmed. The frontline workers are risking their lives and losing their jobs. The parents are unable to put food on the table, keep a roof over their heads. 17 million children in America are food insecure, and we couldn’t even get the food issue into the CARES Act. We need to get it into the legislation now. Schools are unable to keep students and staff safe. That could happen. All we had to do is follow the science. We know how we can open our economy, open our schools safely, but we have to make a decision to follow science and good governance, again. This week again, Senate Leader Schumer and I wrote to McConnell, demanding that he finally comes to the table on a bi-partisan [inaudible 00:09:49] COVID relief.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:51)
We said in the letter that I referenced earlier, the dual public health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19 continue to devastate communities across the country. What is becoming clear to all Americans is that we cannot achieve real economic recovery until we address the expanding public health crisis. The time to act is upon us, like never before. The pandemic and the economic recession will not end without our help. Later today, Leader Schumer and I will be visiting President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. We’ll discussing the lame duck session, the urgency of crushing the virus and easing the pain of this economic crisis, keeping government open, as I referenced earlier, the Omnibus Bill.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:43)
We’re pleased that our Moving America Forward legislation that we passed in the summer and Build Back Better, ar Joe Biden are so compatible for creating good-paying jobs, including through investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, workforce development, clean energy, the list goes on and on. We’re very proud. Okay, now you wonder about this. You wonder about this. Did you know, did you know that House Democrat got nearly 2 million more votes than Donald Trump? I say that, because everybody said, “Well, what did?” Everybody turned out, and it was a great victory, a mandate.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:31)
The most important thing we did two years ago, was in the House. We won 40 seats, 31 of them in Trump districts, in the most gerrymandered, voter-suppressed political arena. You could name. 40 seats, 31 in Trump district. I said, then, “It’s going to be harder next time, because he’ll be on the ballot.” It was, and it was, and so we will lose some, a few of those seats. A couple in Hillary districts and a few in his district. But, imagine nearly 2 million more votes than Donald Trump. People say, “Well, the Democrats didn’t turn out.” No, we did. We turned out. In fact, more than 3 million, more than the Republican did. But as I said again, in the most gerrymandered, voter-suppressed political arena with President Trump on the ballot. I congratulate them for the seats they won. I congratulate him for the turnout that he created. He got a good vote. I didn’t have Joe Biden up here. What is he up to now? 78 million?
Speaker 2: (12:46)
Nancy Pelosi: (12:47)
79 million. 79. But I just wanted to show you how we related to these others. We need everything. We’re a family. We’re a big tent in our party. We’re proud of everyone. It’s, the turnout was across the board. We do believe that our House races in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, contributed to those Electoral College successes and across the country, to the almost 79 million votes that Joe Biden had. We’re very proud of him and Kamala Harris. We’re proud of him as a unifier for our country. We’re proud of the big vote that House Democrats contributed to that success ,because so many people were saying, “Well, this and that”, and no, no, no. We want more, and we will have more. We’ve already started that, but I want you to be sure you knew, nearly 2 million more votes than Donald Trump. Any questions? Garrett?
[inaudible 00:14:00] Speaker. Your Oversight Committee sent a letter asking for the head of the GSA to come and testify. I’m wondering if you could speak to why they decided to do that now and more broadly, what do you see as the House’s role in ensuring a smooth transition?
Nancy Pelosi: (14:12)
Well, I don’t know that they asked for her to testify. They wanted a briefing.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:16)
They asked for a briefing. Testify’s different. That’s [inaudible 00:14:19].
Okay. Pardon me.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:19)
They asked for a briefing, and that is, hopefully before Thanksgiving, that that will happen. You hope that people would have good faith in the jobs that they have. You want to give them a chance to get that done. It is totally mystifying that the GSA refuses to make the statement necessary for the transition to happen in orderly fashion. They’ve been sort of trumping in from the start from the Trump Hotel and all the rest of that way back when, so no surprise that they are following that lead, which is most unfortunate for the country. But what they’re saying is explain to us what your basis is for going down that place. Yeah. Again, everything was kind of, let’s let it, see what … let’s hope for the best. Let’s hope that there’ll be enough Republicans to say, “This is America, the people’s voices count, and that must be respected.”
Nancy Pelosi: (15:26)
To the extent, it won’t be long before we have a certification, the meeting of the Electoral College, December 14th, and then here in the House on January 6th. But again, it was not to … it was really trying to be unifying. Let’s take our time. Let’s give them a chance, and that’s why we don’t have hearing. We’re just having a briefing.
The second part of that question, I mean, do you see an expanded role for the House in trying to make sure this process goes smoothly, especially as the President continues to refuse to concede?
Nancy Pelosi: (15:59)
Do you care to elaborate?
Nancy Pelosi: (16:06)
Well, I’m not wanting to show my hand, but nonetheless, we’re ready. We’re ready. Yes, sir?
Speaker 4: (16:12)
Between the blocks against Governor Whitmer and the two guys who drove up from Virginia to Philadelphia during the counting, do you or other Democrats have concerns that the longer this goes on, in terms of Trump challenging the vote and other Republicans saying he’s [inaudible 00:16:29] these options and it’s still an open question to go on, does that raises the prospect for violence?
Nancy Pelosi: (16:36)
Well, we all have to know that the President of the United States, his words weigh a ton. They weigh a ton and people hear things in a way that could encourage some unfortunate situations, as they have done in the state of Michigan. You would think that there would be on the part of all Republicans, a rejection. Did you see the array of agenda items, the Michiganders have? Public execution. Have you seen it? Yeah. So, you know how dangerous it is. Burning down the capitol and not getting, shall we say, told that that’s not appropriate in our country, but instead having God knows how, what’s his name? Atlas. Oh my God. Did you see his statements that encourage that, coming right there from the right hand of the President of the United States, saying you got to have stirred up in the streets and the rest of that.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:53)
This is a bad behavior, but again, let’s try to be unifying. Let’s try to be respectful. There is this element in our country. I don’t think Donald Trump created it, but I think he fans the flame. I think that’s a dangerous situation. Yes, sir?
Speaker 5: (18:10)
Madame Speaker, as you mentioned, businesses are hurting out there and still there’s about 138 million that’s allocated in PPP funds that’s there, ready, available. Any possibility on releasing some of that money?
Nancy Pelosi: (18:24)
Well, that’s up to the administration and that’s why we’re saying, “What is this?” Plus, all the other money that Mr. Mnuchin has discretion over. That’s for bigger business, but nonetheless, as the Fed has said so much a part of our economy, that, that it it’s … That’s why I referenced Sandy Hook. Forget about it. That’s why I referenced George Floyd. Let’s just move on. People are suffering. If you don’t believe in governance, then it’s easy for you to say, “We don’t really have to do all of these things.” That’s what the problem is. But I’m optimistic that we will have bipartisanship to put something together, to go forward, because I do believe that many of our colleagues understand what’s happening in their districts, and who want to make a difference. There’s just one big obstacle in the way. In the Senate, it’s Mitch McConnell, but the other obstacle, because he does what President Trump says, and that’s the President Trump. Yes, Sir? Yes Sir?
Speaker 6: (19:42)
As far as those negotiations go right now, who are these active negotiations going on with? Is it House Democrats and Leader McConnell?
Nancy Pelosi: (19:50)
No. No, no. That’s not happen-
Speaker 6: (19:50)
Is the White House? When’s the last time you spoke with [inaudible 00:19:55]
Nancy Pelosi: (19:54)
Yesterday, there was a meeting of the staff of the Four Corners. That’d be House and Senate Democrat and Republican leaders. The anticipation was, that it was really about the Omnibus. Remember, we have to have an Omnibus Bill. We must keep government open. That’s a very important responsibility, during the lame duck. We don’t want another continuing resolution. I don’t think they do either. We have an expression, yesterday was for the staff to deal with what we call the ash and trash. They’re just some of the things that are not up here, but need to be resolved so that we can move forward. Then, hopefully, we would have been able to begin a path to the COVID. That didn’t happen, but hopefully it will.
Speaker 7: (20:46)
How do you need to engage with?
Nancy Pelosi: (20:48)
Speaker 7: (20:48)
Is it the White House? Is it Leader McConnell?
Nancy Pelosi: (20:50)
No. These were the four leaders. Yes, Ma’am?
Speaker 8: (20:53)
Secretary Mnuchin said this morning, that he is meeting with Leader McCarthy and Leader McConnell later today to talk about a stimulus deal for COVID relief. Do you have any plans to talk to him, upcoming?
Nancy Pelosi: (21:06)
Well, he said in his comments that they would be reaching out, but we’re asking him to, come back to this. We’ve been sitting at the table for six months plus a week, waiting for them to come back. The obstacles have been, they do not want to honor our heroes, our state and local workers, our healthcare workers, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers, our first responders, our police and fire, our transportation, sanitation, food workers who make our existence possible. They’re saying they don’t want to do that. In fact, many of those workers are laid off. They have risked their lives to save lives, and now they might lose their jobs. Many, over a million of them have. The other part of that, is that the fiscal soundness of our state and local government is important to the fiscal soundness of our country.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:02)
It doesn’t make any sense, in terms of meeting the needs of people, honoring the work of our heroes, and again, the soundness of our economy. We have to get something done. Again, they had been resistant on many of the things that we consider priorities, but everybody knows people are hungry. People are fearing eviction. People need the CARES Act provisions to be extended, that address unemployment in [inaudible 00:22:37] and the rest. I won’t go into how they comment on all of that. But the main thing that they have … The two main things, honor our heroes, so that the states and local governments can meet the needs that we talked about, hospitalizations and all the rest. It’s coronavirus-centric, as well as revenue loss because of shutdown. But this is the most mystifying to me, and the most unscientific. They will not decide to crush the virus. My hope is the vaccine will say, “Okay, there’s a path. So let’s stop the spread of it while we manufacture more and distribute more of it.”
Speaker 9: (23:24)
[crosstalk 00:23:24] Madam Speaker. [crosstalk 00:23:26].
Speaker 2: (23:26)
Thank you. Thank you all.
Speaker 10: (23:32)
Do you think you’ll hear from the Secretary before the end of the day?
Speaker 11: (23:34)
What about condemnation of the violence against Trump supporters last weekend?
male reporter: (23:37)
What about your [inaudible 00:23:41].
male reporter: (23:45)
He never calls. [crosstalk 00:23:46] Classic Ron [crosstalk 00:23:47].
male reporter: (23:45)
Who was that [inaudible 00:23:48] and Ashley Barker.
male reporter: (23:50)
Both have Pulitzer Prizes now, so I guess it worked out okay.
male reporter: (23:52)
What was that [inaudible 00:23:54], Charlie?