Aug 26, 2020
Nancy Pelosi & Chuck Schumer Healthcare Briefing Transcript August 26
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer held a briefing on healthcare on August 26. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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TJ Ducklo: (00:08)
Thank you Chris. Good afternoon everyone. I know everyone has been working overtime to fact check what we’ve witnessed the past two nights, but here are a few facts that you won’t have to check. Nearly 5.8 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19. Nearly 180,000 have died from it and 16 million Americans are out of work, but you wouldn’t know it if you watch the republican convention the last two nights. Nearly every speaker delivered an address with no remorse for what families across the country are grappling with and no discussion of what president Trump is going to do about it. President Trump and the Republicans are living in a delusion as if the virus doesn’t exist. As if Americans aren’t dying and getting sick and as if people aren’t out of work. Larry Kudlow, the president’s chief economic adviser, spoke about the virus entirely in the past tense.
TJ Ducklo: (01:02)
They want us to live in their delusion too because every person wearing a mask, every appropriate precaution to socially distant, every simple expression of compassion for what Americans are going through, is another reminder of just how badly President Trump has screwed this up. Four years ago Donald Trump said at the RNC I alone can fix it. This year, he is content to ignore the historic challenges facing working families. Instead of plans and a vision, there were threats of a dark future if Trump is not re-elected, imaginary accomplishments from Trump’s first term and lies about Joe Biden’s record that have been roundly disproven and debunked. Unoriginal, yet thoroughly unsurprising. I’ll stop there, but as far as this press conference goes, the best is yet to come. I will turn it over to speaker Pelosi. Madam speaker.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:56)
Thank you very much. Thank you, TJ and thank you Chris for hosting us this afternoon on this very important subject, the health and wellbeing of America’s families.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:06)
The chaos, as Chris said earlier, the chaos presidency of Donald Trump has brought further crisis to America’s families in the midst of a pandemic. The chaos that he brought forth with calling it a hoax, the denial, the delay, the distortion, have resulted in what TJ just referenced, the 180,000 people have died, have died in our country and millions have been infected. In fact, since 104 days, something like that, since we passed the Heroes Act and Mitch McConnell pressed the pause button and said we should pause, the virus didn’t pause. Nothing else paused, the hardship didn’t pause. Since then, the number of people who have died has doubled and the number of people who have been infected has increased by nearly 4 million people. This is so tragic, but it also happens instead of the president crushing the virus and the chaos he has brought to that with his ridiculous claims and delay and denial, instead of crushing the virus, he’s trying to crush the Affordable Care Act.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:23)
In the tradition of the Republicans in the Congress, who more than 60 times tried to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act, this president is trying to crush it in the courts. November 10th will be the day when we put forth the oral arguments to fight his efforts to crush the Affordable Care Act. Central to the Affordable Care Act is that 20 million more people have access to healthcare. In addition to that, over 150 million families have essential benefits increased and again, among them, the ever essential preexisting condition benefit. The president engaged in falsehoods in and saying, I’m there to protect the preexisting condition. He is not. He is crushing it and this makes all the difference in the world if you have 130 million of families in our country, which had someone with a preexisting condition.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:18)
Child born with preexisting condition, has it for life. People with disabilities in our country, depend on that benefit. They also been depend on Medicaid, which the president is trying to undermine and is not encouraging states to expand Medicaid. In fact, he wants to eliminate what the Affordable Care Act has done to expand Medicaid and Medicare as well, but in terms of Medicaid, this is essential to the 55 million families with people with disabilities in them. Many of them are veterans as well. Medicaid is very important and Medicaid is central to the Affordable Care Act. We’re there from day one with our freshmen leading the way, on the day one of this new Congress, in the majority, our freshman class went down there and put forth a resolution that said we were going to fight this in court and we are indeed doing that.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:24)
Today, purple and white for suffragettes, so this is an important issue for women that’s for sure. Martin Luther King said of all of the inequalities, the one that is horrible and inhuman was the inequality in healthcare because people could die. That’s why we passed under president Obama and vice president Biden’s leadership, the Affordable Care Act. That’s why when we win again and under president Biden and vice-president Harris, we will be expanding and strengthening it. Let me just set another date for this week and that is yesterday, August 25th. In different years, but on that same date, we lost two of our heroes. Ted Kennedy, who was not only an inspiration, but also a leader in establishing the Affordable Care Act. He died 11 years ago yesterday and two years ago yesterday, John McCain left us. A hero in saving the Affordable Care Act. People have acted with brilliance, with courage and the rest for the good of the American people.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:34)
The president is acting with chaos, catering to pharma, catering to the insurance companies and the rest and not telling the truth about it. He’s about chaos. We’re about science. We’ll have more to say about this as we go forward about science, science, science, instead of the president’s notion mongering about different cures and the rest of which he knows nothing about, his chaos and how he’s treating the Affordable Care Act. His chaos in how he’s treating the FDA and how instead of science dominating the approval process, his politics doing so. For these and other reasons and I know this conversation will continue, I’m very pleased to yell for a champion on fighting for the Affordable Care Act and really expanding access to quality affordable care for all Americans. Senate leader, Chuck Schumer.
Chuck Schumer: (07:29)
Well, thank you speaker and thanks for the great job you do. Thank you to the Biden campaign, the DNC for holding this call and just two great senators. One Democrat, one Republican, who you mentioned. Essential in expanding healthcare. John McCain was essential when the republican senate tried to undo it, to helping us stop it. Let’s not forget them. They’re great.
Chuck Schumer: (07:55)
Now, Donald Trump has made his name in reality TV, but this week at the Republican National Convention, the Trump…
Chuck Schumer: (08:03)
At the Republican national convention, the Trump campaign is producing [inaudible 00:08:06] reality TV. The US leads the world in the number of COVID-19 cases by far. Close to 180,000, as has been mentioned, have died, every one of them leaving friends and family with broken hearts. And Republicans pretend like Donald Trump has a handle on the virus. Republicans have spent their convention trying to paper mache over reality to cover up the fact that Donald Trump has failed to contain COVID-19. Let’s be clear. President Trump ignored the advice of experts, downplayed the virus and refused to take Swift action to contain the spread of the virus. Every other Western country just about, every other Asian country and developed countries have done a far better job than us because they had leadership and we didn’t. We had chaos. And as a result, the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19 has been an international embarrassment, and we are experiencing the greatest health crisis this country has seen in over a hundred years.
Chuck Schumer: (09:13)
Of course, the truth is ever since Donald Trump became president, he’s been relentless in attacking Americans health care as the speaker mentioned. The affordable CARE act, a lifeline to millions has … especially during this pandemic. And yet Trump and the Republicans in Congress right now, they go home and do commercials how they want to protect preexisting conditions and yet they’re suing. They’re suing right now in court to gut the ACA and eliminate protections for people with preexisting conditions. What hypocrisy? The same lawsuit could cause many people to be denied coverage when they need it most here during COVID resulting in even more chaos, more chaos in these already very challenging times. You won’t hear any mention of the lawsuit at the Republican convention, oh no. President Trump actually started off on Monday saying he’d defend protections for Americans with preexisting conditions.
Chuck Schumer: (10:14)
He actually said that, while the administration is in court right now suing to take away these protections, you can’t make this stuff up. So reality. That’s what it is. Dishonesty, lying. For this and so many other reasons we need to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The American people can’t afford, just can’t afford four more years of this dangerous and chaotic leadership. And I want to make one more point. The Trump administration’s healthcare sabotage and weak inadequate Coronavirus response has been aided and abetted by congressional Republicans. And no one, no one, no one is more guilty than the Senate majority leader. The self appointed grim reaper of the legislative graveyard, Mitch McConnell. McConnell and the Republicans have refused over and over again to take action to protect Americans healthcare, to address the Coronavirus. 380 house passed bills that McConnell and Senate Republicans refuse to even bring up a vote.
Chuck Schumer: (11:20)
80% of which had bipartisan support under the speaker’s leadership in the house. And many that would help strengthen healthcare for millions and millions of American families who desperately need it. America, we can do better than this. This November, Americans have a chance to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. They have a chance to send Mitch McConnell packing and to secure democratic leadership in the Senate. Americans are really ready and waiting for leaders who will fight to ensure that more Americans have quality affordable health care. We need to build the country back better. We need to strengthen healthcare coverage and we need a comprehensive approach to this global pandemic. We need to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Thank you.
Thank you, Leader Schumer humor. This time we’ll have time for a couple of questions, if in the app you would please raise your hand and we’ll get those queued up. As that’s going on, a reminder, in your inbox right now from the war room, you have a fact sheet about healthcare and crisis going through the terrible things that the Trump administration has done to mess with the healthcare of Americans. And with that, why don’t we start with Tommy Christopher. Tommy, are you on the line?
Tommy Christopher: (12:44)
Yeah, I’m here. Hi. Can you hear me?
Tommy Christopher: (12:47)
Okay. My question is for Speaker Pelosi, but Leader Schumer and TJ, you can chime in too. I wanted to know if you are open to or planning any sort of oversight investigations hearings on the potential hatch act violations that are occurring at the RNC and also on the issue of the CDC, the new testing guidelines, and whether there was political pressure applied to reduce the number of cases being reported.
Speaker Pelosi: (13:17)
Let me take the second part first. The CDC guidelines that they had put forth are scary and dangerous. It really is very sad and just reinforces the lack of attention and understanding that we have to have in order to crush this virus. Scientists tell us, and they have told us over and over again over the past months, that we must be testing more, that we should be testing 3 million people a day. The administration has resisted that. President said testing is what? Overrated. I think he was talking about himself. Every time he says something like that it’s like a projection of himself, overrated. And then in our conversations with his staff and representatives, they’re tracing, I don’t know why we should do that. Well, testing, tracing, treating, isolating, mask wearing, sanitation, this is what scientists tell us is necessary to stop the growth, the flow of this virus and to help to eliminate it.
Speaker Pelosi: (14:26)
They won’t do that. So now they’re having the CDC … shame on them. As I say, shame on the commissioner of the FDA the other day for his misrepresentations. This all is being politicized and yes, we will be investigating. The energy and commerce committee is already looking into this and our select committee on the Coronavirus crisis under Mr. Clyburn’s leadership will be looking into it. This is very, very essential. As Leader Schumer said, this is what other countries have done and they’ve had success. You have success from science, you have crisis from chaos. And that’s what this president is about. And in terms of the first part of it, these people are so unethical. So whether it’s legal, illegal, we think that it is illegal. [inaudible 00:15:19] gave … the state department got a warning that they should not be engaged in politics and then he himself was engaged in it.
Speaker Pelosi: (15:29)
But you know what? The American people really, they know these people are unethical, and illegal and doing things outside the law. What they want to know is what we’re going to be doing for them. And we’d rather have our focus be very much on how we are going to protect their healthcare, how we’re going to create good paying jobs, how we’re going to take our country in a forward direction and [inaudible 00:07:51]. Bigger jobs, lower healthcare costs, bigger paychecks, lower healthcare costs and cleaner government as we protect our planet, which they’re in denial. Again, another example of their-
Speaker Pelosi: (16:03)
… our planet, which they’re in denial again. Another example of their anti-science. So the committees will make their decisions about how they go forward on Pompeo. We also have an issue with Pompeo for not giving us documents, and you’ll be hearing from the Foreign Affairs Committee, Chairman Engel, probably later today on that score. So they’ve been in violation on many scores. This is really pathetic, but nonetheless no surprise at their unethical behavior. I just though want to add to, in terms of the CDC, that this has to be resisted because this is just again ignoring science and letting the virus have its way with our people. It really must, must be addressed. I don’t know if Leader Schumer wants to say anything about the CDC, or the FDA, or any of the rest of it.
Chuck Schumer: (17:01)
Donald Trump thinks by ignoring the truth, by lying about the truth, he can make things happen, and it only makes things worse. He called it a hoax. It wasn’t a hoax. He said when it gets warmer it’ll go away. It didn’t go away. But it’s not just that he lies about it. He doesn’t do what’s needed to fight it because he lives in his own little dream world, and he thinks by ignoring the facts, and misstating the facts, and lying about the facts, that will become the truth, and that’s just not how this works.
Chuck Schumer: (17:32)
So by not knowing how many people are hospitalized, how many people are dying, by trying to understate those facts, he will make things worse. More people will die. More people will get sick. The economy will stay in bad shape longer as long as they deny the truth. But Trump has this amazing ability in his own brain to think if he says it it’s going to become true, and that is one of the main reasons other countries are doing much better than we are. As for the first point, you know this is what we can expect in a second Trump Administration, which praise God, thank God, and I believe will not happen.
Chuck Schumer: (18:11)
All the rules, norms, values, that have made this country great, Donald Trump will destroy them. He doesn’t care. He only cares about himself. The rules are, you shouldn’t sit in the White House and give a speech at a convention. Donald Trump says, “I want to do it,” so they do it. Well, that’s nothing compared to the things they might do if, God forbid, they get a second term. So America watch out. This convention was just an example of the destruction of the values, the norms, the honor, and honesty, and fact-based nature of this republic that has made our republic great that Donald Trump undoes every day a bit more.
Speaker 1: (18:56)
Great. Can we go to Sarah from CNN next?
Speaker Pelosi: (19:01)
Chuck Schumer: (19:03)
Speaker 1: (19:04)
Sarah. Hi there.
Sarah Mucha: (19:06)
Hi. Yeah. Can you hear me?
Speaker 1: (19:08)
Sarah Mucha: (19:09)
Hey. I have a question about Kenosha specifically, but I guess it can be applied more broadly. The unrest and the riots are an issue the Trump campaign is especially now capitalizing on what this law and order message to appeal to suburban voters. I know you all released a statement from Symone last night condemning the violent protests. And I know Biden has addressed it before, but I’m curious how the vice president intends to address this issue himself going forward, and I’m curious, do you guys believe that this is a messaging war that you need to win at all?
TJ Ducklo: (19:47)
Well Sarah, I can address that at the top and then Speaker Pelosi or Leader Schumer if you all have anything to add. I think earlier this week you saw Vice President Biden call for accountability and an immediate, full, and transparent investigation into this shooting. You know, he called those seven shots Sunday night, he said that they pierced the soul of the nation. And he has said before that protesting such brutality is right and necessary. I believe he said after the George Floyd murder that it was an utterly American response.
TJ Ducklo: (20:19)
But he has also said that burning down communities and needless violence is not, that violence that endangers the lives of families and small businesses is not. So I think you’ll continue to see him be out in front and show leadership on this issue. I think the Biden-Harris Administration will be an administration that will actually address some of the systemic racism and inequities in our country in a way that this president has not, and this president has completely failed to lead on. So I think you will absolutely see more from us on that. I’m not sure, Speaker Pelosi or Leader Schumer, if you had anything more to add on that front.
Speaker Pelosi: (20:54)
I think that Vice President Biden, well then President Biden and Vice President Harris, will be leaders who will calm the waters. What we saw in Kenosha it breaks your heart. It does pierce the soul as was said. But the encouragement that the president, the acquiescence, if not more than that, that it gives to vigilantes coming in to make matters worse in these situations is something that the president should be quelling rather than encouraging. I do think that it was beautiful to hear Mrs. Blake speak, the mom. I don’t know if you heard her speech but she said, “This isn’t what we’re about. We’re not about riots, and destroying of property, and the rest. That’s not the statement that we want associated it with this.”
Speaker Pelosi: (21:48)
I thought when she spoke from the heart as a mom about this, about her family and their loss in terms of hopefully, maybe science will be advanced and he will be able to walk. But the statement that she made I think she spoke for most people in our country. We all respect peaceful demonstrations. We don’t want them to be exploited by outside groups, be they vigilantes and the rest, to stir it on. So I feel that we in our country have enough empathy for those who have lost their lives, or their ability to walk, or whatever it is, that we want to have everyone be able to speak out on it, but we don’t want it to be used for a purpose that is counterproductive.
Speaker Pelosi: (22:42)
Just want to get back to Tommy’s question for a moment on healthcare. I have said this and I truly believe it. I believe that President Trump is asking his supporters, who seem to be able to accept almost anything that he does, he’s asking them to choose him over their children and over their families, the health and wellbeing of their families, especially now as it comes to going back to school. He wants to give the resources largely to the schools that will actually open as opposed to those who are making their judgements that it’s in the safety, the interest of safety of children, not to go down that path. So he’s saying to them, “It’s Donald Trump or your children.” Think about it. Mr. Schumer?
Chuck Schumer: (23:35)
Well, just one quick point because I think TJ and Nancy have done it well. But a broader point. Our convention showed unity, bringing people together, ending the divisiveness together, and coming together for a common purpose on healthcare, on opening up the schools, on so many things. What their convention is showing is disunity and divisiveness. The American people want unity. They want someone who will bring us together, not someone who will try-
Chuck Schumer: (24:03)
… One who will bring us together, not someone who will try to tear us apart. I think that message will be very strong and resonate well in November, and then afterwards with President Biden and Vice President Harris.
Thank you. Maureen from USA Today. Maureen you there?
Maureen Groppe: (24:28)
Yep, just unmuted thanks for taking my question. Since Vice President Pence is the top speaker tonight, can you address how he fits into the indictment that you’re making?
Chuck Schumer: (24:42)
Go ahead Speaker Pelosi.
Speaker Pelosi: (24:43)
Well, I would just say that what we’re learning about Vice President Pence is that he’s pulled his punch on the fight against the virus. That they were slow in anticipation and not only that reacting to what was happening out there, in terms of the spread of the virus. He became a I don’t know what, just a figure in the background for a while, and then I don’t think he ever emerged maybe until tonight. But the fact is there’s nothing for him to be proud of in terms of his role in fighting this virus. In fact, there’s evidence to support the fact that he was very slow on the draw, pulled his punch when he should have been leading with it. He’s part of the indictment on the coronavirus. Again, I don’t know what role he played in the healthcare debate, but he certainly is an accomplice to the president’s assault on the Affordable Care Act. I just want to say, I talked about Ted Kennedy and I talked about John McCain, coincidentally dying at the same date, not the same year, but the same date. I mentioned that because it was about bipartisanship, and it’s about what Mr. Schumer was talking about, about bringing people together. We have our differences on how we would proceed even within our own parties, but we respect other points of view.
Speaker Pelosi: (26:12)
As we go forward that’s what Joe Biden has been so famous for, about respecting other people’s point of view. Having empathy for the concerns of the American people, and finding a path that is sustainable to address them. Whether it’s about job security, whether it’s about health security, whether it’s about preserving the planet. How do we do that in the most bipartisan way? The way Ted Kennedy and John McCain in their way, in their time both advanced and saved the Affordable Care Act.
Chuck Schumer: (26:48)
I’ll just make one more point about the vice president. Two points here. First, he’s head of the coronavirus task force. I wouldn’t be proud of that if I were him, look how poorly we’ve done. Clearly the response of the administration and if Pence was leading it, it’s a severe indictment of him that will be a stain on his record forever, no matter what he does afterwards.
Chuck Schumer: (27:13)
Second, when Trump just lies and misstates things to the detriment of the country, Pence is quiet as a little mouse. That’s another indictment of him. A real leader would have first gone to the president and say, “You can’t say these mistruths, and if you keep saying them for the good of the country, I’m going to have to contradict you.” He has not done that. He has shown no leadership. He has just been a total acolyte of President Trump’s bad policies, misdeeds, and frankly lying.
Well, thank you everyone for joining today. This was a great call. Thank you to our speakers. Tomorrow our final call of the week will be at 11:00 AM with mayor Pete Buttigieg, so I look forward to that. Have a great day.
Speaker Pelosi: (28:09)
Thank you Chris.
Chuck Schumer: (28:09)
Thank you, thanks everybody.
Speaker Pelosi: (28:09)