May 14, 2020
Nancy Pelosi Weekly News Conference Transcript May 14
Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on Thursday, May 14. Read her full speech transcript here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:01)
Turn of phrase. And now it is a question. How are you? If you’re well, come here for Friday. If you’re not, stay home. Thanks for not sharing.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:11)
This is really quite an exciting time for us because we have a monumental need for our country at this sad time. You know the figures, the 85,000 people tragically dead. Nearly 1.4 million people infected. More than 36 million people have lost their jobs and filing for unemployment. Yesterday, Chairman of the Fed, Chairman Powell, he stated the need for Congress to act immediately and pass further economic relief. In his words, he said additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it if it helps avoid longterm economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery. That’s our hope. This trade off is one for our elected representatives who wield powers of taxation and spending. Chairman Powell of the Federal Reserve Bank.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:19)
Also, representatives calling for urgent action are the representative of the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank, the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:32)
And this morning, you probably have seen Dr. Rick Bright testified the health subcommittee on… Energy and Commerce Committee, warning that next winter will be the darkest winter in modern history, unless we do more to fight the coronavirus. So the challenge is a clear one, and we are very proud of the Heroes Act, which addresses the urgent needs and the actions we want to take to meet those needs.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:03)
The House will vote on the Heroes Act tomorrow, and it has three pillars. The first pillar is to, again, open the economy, open the economy by science, which calls… And health experts who call for testing, tracing, treatment, and isolation. Do that. And in the package put together by largely the Energy and Commerce Committee with the Mr. Chairman, Frank Pallone, assistance to hospitals, all that goes into that, it has a strategic plan. A strategic plan for testing, tracing, treating, and isolating. It’s what this country needs to defeat the COVID-19 virus.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:55)
Secondly, honor our heroes. That’s the title of our bill. The Heroes Act. The healthcare workers, the first responders, police, fire, emergency services, sanitation, food workers, our teachers, transportation workers, and the rest. The list goes on. Many of them risk their lives to save lives. And now they may lose their jobs because of the coronavirus and the cost that it is to their communities.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:26)
Third… first, open the economy, test, test, test. Two, we want to honor our heroes by helping state and local entities. And three, we want to put money in the pockets of the American people. We’re doing that with direct payments to American families, with unemployment insurance, with child tax credit, low income tax credit, employment retention tax credit, number of different ways. And until it is not necessary anymore, this is the path that we have to be on.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:08)
All of the things that I have just mentioned have their origin, their provenance, they have been voted upon by the Congress in one or the other of the four coronavirus pieces of legislation. So there’s nothing really new in what I had to say. The size and the strategy of it more emphasized, but not anything that we haven’t voted on before.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:37)
In addition to that, we want to help the postal service. We want to have a strong OSHA provision to protect our workers and to protect our employers. And we want to have more money for our election vote by mail initiatives. And one other piece that is sort of old and new again is the assistance that we want to have for our renters and for the homeowners who are seriously finding themselves at the mercy of, so we want forbearance for mortgages.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:13)
So that’s essentially what the bill is, in that way. And let me just characterize it for you. Because people said, “Oh, it’s just partisan.” Wait a minute. The first Cares Act was written by the Senate Republicans, the majority leader of the Senate. He introduced the bill, we acted upon it. We came up with a bipartisan bill, the Cares Act.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:41)
The second, the interim bill for the PPP was written by the Senate Republican leader. He introduced it. We had suggestions, we negotiated, we acted upon it. And we had a bipartisan bill. So it’s no different, when the leader in the House, a Democrat, writes a bill and says, here’s many of the issues, more than 80% of the bill we have already passed in one way, shape, or form. We have a few more things… More than, well over 80%. So now we’re putting our offer on the table. We’re open to negotiation.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:24)
And so when people say partisan, it’s like, wait a minute, it wasn’t partisan when they did it. Did you say that? And we’re saying, okay, here’s our offer. Let’s see where you are. You have supported our heroes with state and local support before. You have supported testing. And the very first bill we passed on March 4th, and the very most recent bill that we passed with 25 billion dollars in testing, as you later agreed to. You have supported direct payments the American people and support for unemployment insurance, et cetera. So these are just taking us further down the path of most of that legislation.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:09)
In case you’re curious, I want to just say that I sent this letter to my colleagues, actually just now, and in the letter, I thank all of them, Democrats and Republicans alike, for their interest and leadership in helping meet the needs of the American people. I tell them about Chairman Powell’s statement about the urgency of acting, and our elected representatives role… thank you. That they must play at this time, in order to avoid further economic downturn.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:47)
And I also say to them that this is not new, that one side of the aisle might offer, put something on the table, as they did in the two previous bills. And now we’re putting ours and invite a negotiation. What I just also tell them is that they can, in preparation for the vote on the floor, I want to encourage them to consult the resources on the Heroes Act, prepared by the Committee of Jurisdiction, including state by state estimations of the state fiscal stabilization fund and the resources on relief provisions for your district and state prepared by the appropriations committee.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:29)
Do we have a site? I urge you to support this life-serving legislation and to be present on Friday. If you go to speaker.gov, to our friends who may be watching, if you go to speaker.gov, or to our friends who are in this room, you can see this letter. And also, it will cite a place that you can go, say what congressional district, who your representative is or what district you live in, certainly what state you live in, and see how your community is direct-
Nancy Pelosi: (09:03)
State you live in and see how your community is directly affected. We have two tranches. The first tranche, in no particular order, the recognition of the role that the states play and honoring our heroes, and that will be what goes to the state. And then in terms of county and municipalities, it is also visible there. I think you’ll be very pleased. I also think it is important to note that the enthusiasm that we have received for the legislation, the National Association of Counties, for the first time, they are discreetly mentioned to get specific resources. The National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the list is a long one, very long. If you ask, I’ll tell you who’s on here, but it’s a very long list of organizations, the National Governors Conference, Governor of Maryland and New York put out a statement supporting this part of the ability, the honoring our heroes, state, and local part of the legislation.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:14)
So, we’re very pleased about how that is all going. So, here we are a day before, a lot else going, but for us, this is our focus. Now, as I said, the four previous bills were all overwhelmingly bipartisan. And we hope that this one will be too. Sadly though, Leader McConnell said, “We have not yet felt the urgency of acting immediately. That time could develop,” he said, “but I don’t think it has yet.” He wants us to just pause. He wants us to just pause, but families know that hunger doesn’t take a pause, not having a job doesn’t take a pause, not being able to pay the rent doesn’t take a pause. The hardship of it all, losing a loved one, or having someone in your family sick, it just doesn’t take a pause.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:12)
So members of the Congress, the House and Senate, need to come together. We have to come together to pass another bill, the HEROES Act, and deliver the relief that our families desperately need. And so, you know, American people know, as I always say of them, American people have hearts full of love. They want us to work together. We’re all heartbroken over the loss of life. The numbers of loss of life, infection, losing jobs, et cetera, are unimaginable, but they exist and we must act upon them. And so we want you to go look to speaker.gov to see how you can find out how you are affected directly in your district, because all of these people, these heroes, they affect how your city, county, township, state, meet the needs of the American people. And as I say, it’s to address, I just closed by saying that the funding is to address the outlays, that community, that political entities have made to address the coronavirus crisis.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:26)
And those are large, larger in some communities than others, but all communities have a high percentage of revenue lost because of the coronavirus crisis. And that’s part of the distribution of these funds as well. Oh, go into this very prayerfully, having listened to so many people across the country, express their concerns and to make a best effort to come together based on what we have done before in a bipartisan way, but to go further because the coronavirus has gone farther. With that, I’m pleased to answer any questions.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:07)
[inaudible 00:13:07] Natalie Andrews of the Wall Street Journal. Go ahead. I’ll come to you next.
Natalie Andrews : (13:16)
Madame Speaker, thank you for doing this.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:17)
Thank you, Natalie.
Natalie Andrews : (13:18)
What is your next step after the House, should the House pass the bill tomorrow? The White House has said it doesn’t plan to open talks. Will you do more interims of legislation? Are there any preliminary discussions happening?
Nancy Pelosi: (13:31)
I think that our conversation is with the American people. They’re feeling the pain more than anyone, obviously, who were saying something like that. It’s amazing to me how much patience and how much tolerance some can have for the pain of others. And I do think, and I have confidence that our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, on both sides of the Capitol, and even down Pennsylvania Avenue, know as Chairman Powell says, to avoid even further economic disaster and what the scientists tell us unless we test, trace and treat as well as isolate, that we’re not going to defeat this, that they know the hardship, the American people are feeling that they need that cash that we’re sending out for the time, and hopefully that will diminish as the crisis diminishes. So I’m optimistic that the American people will weigh in and make their views known. And we can, we want to do this, working together, predicated on initiatives that have passed in a bipartisan way before.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:45)
And so our next step is to, we pass the bill, we got to do that tomorrow. Tomorrow we’ll also be doing something to enable fuller participation in our legislative process, by that first issue to be voted upon is the remote voting by proxy. We won’t use the proxy vote tomorrow for this bill, that is my understanding, but that will enable us to take up more legislation, some on the horizon soon, that we can do not having everybody present in voting in the chamber, but voting on the record. And so we’ll pass our bill tomorrow, and we’ll again, with all the appeal that we have from Democrats and Republicans, governors, mayors, county executives and the rest, a grassroots organization who minister to the needs of the hungry, I didn’t mention, but hopefully it won’t be an area of controversy, but the food stamps, the SNAP program is something that we have done before and bills rejected and other bills very needed now. So all of that public sentiment, we think, will weigh in favor of a decision to do more, to meet the needs of the American people. Garrett.
Madame Speaker, given the history that you laid out and the fact that it was Republicans pitching in ideas and participating in this process on the other relief bills, what did you make of the fact that there is no Republican counter offer, no unified position on their end of any kind, other than liability protection and not this?
Nancy Pelosi: (16:31)
Well, I’m sure that they’ll come with something or they’ll have a comment on what we have done. I have confidence that they will. When they put forth, we were always quick to respond because we’re ready. We’re always ready. First we had the Families First, the families and workers first, and then the Responsibility Act, because we were always listening and trying to act upon in the most unifying way, the needs of the American people.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:04)
So when they did the second, we never expected a second interim, that interim package, because we would have been here with you a long time ago with the CARES 2, the HEROES Act, because that’s what we’re working on. Then came the interim package. They put forth theirs. The very next day, we had our proposal about how we could do the PPP, which we fully support, but to do it in a way that has more transparency, more accountability, and addresses the underbanked communities, smaller smaller businesses of women-owned, Native American, veterans, minority-owned, rural businesses that are smaller, but not having the same access to the banks. And this bill, we don’t do funding for PPP at per se, but we do have some, I would say, improvements, lowering the number of… Taking it down to 10, the number that-
Nancy Pelosi: (18:03)
Lowering the number of, taking it down to 10, the number that we would address companies with fewer than 10 people and expanding the access of nonprofits to the program with an unlimited number of employees. That was a big ask for many of the nonprofits who work to meet the needs of the American people. So we’re excited about it because we think we have a great basis that is common ground from the past. And then we have a few issues that we haven’t agreed on in the past, but seemed to be more urgent now, like SNAP, like OSHA in terms of the, you mentioned liability, in terms of the protection for workers and employers. We think the best route there is to have a strong OSHA provisions that are mandatory. Okay, now, where we going to? Lindsey MacPherson, roll call. Lindsey? Okay.
Lindsey MacPherson: (19:01)
Nancy Pelosi: (19:01)
Lindsey MacPherson: (19:02)
Speaker 1: (19:24)
She was asking about-
Nancy Pelosi: (19:25)
Well, I heard the word stabilizer.
Speaker 1: (19:27)
Concerns from the Progressive’s that stuff that was not included.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:30)
Well, we’re we okay with that, but in terms of the stabilizers and that wasn’t just the progressive. That’s across the board, in our caucus, including in the speaker’s office, I’m a big supporter of having stabilizers in the bill. For those of you, stabilizer would be something where you might have in the bill, something that says, if by January the unemployment rate is 7% or higher, we would automatically have 26 weeks of unemployment checks, which is something that is really standard fare.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:06)
But say you put that in the bill, I thought that would be a very wise thing to do. Same thing with FMAP, same thing with SNAP and the rest. However, what I know, many years an appropriator and in leadership did not realize because we had never spoken in these big terms before, is that you have a stabilizer in it that something will happen next January. And then you’ll have 400, $500 billion worth of unemployment checks going out. It counts in the bill today. It counts in the bill today. Why would it? It doesn’t happen in … It might not ever happen. God willing, we won’t have that high unemployment rate, but we might.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:51)
But the CBO, if you say, people are still hungry by such and such, we want to double SNAP after the first of the year, they count it today. Now SNAP is a much smaller program, so maybe you can absorb it, maybe not, but four or $500 billion you can’t. So we were disappointed. So we want to look and see what our legislative constitutional and other prerogatives might be to give us more latitude to prepare, even though not spend in the moment, but not have it count in the moment. But I myself was disappointed to learn that we just couldn’t go to that place.
Nancy Pelosi: (21:29)
But, but I wanted to put hortatory language to say, let us declare that we are prepared, should certain things … And they said, that’s a stabilizer, so they couldn’t do that. But I do think that everybody should know that the actions taken by Congress are predicated on the needs of the American people. And should there be a reason later to do that, we will be there and we want to harold that and give that signal. But I do think it’s more efficient to have the stabilizers, the CBO not withstanding. Okay. Yes, ma’am?
Speaker 2: (22:08)
Speaker Pelosi, are you still in active talks with Secretary Mnnuchin? Have you guys spoken since you proposed this Heroes Act?
Nancy Pelosi: (22:17)
No, we haven’t. Mike, back and forth with Karen Mnnuchin has been … We have been interested in an accounting of the PPP, the Paycheck Protection Program. We had some concerns about transparency, accountability, some loans that went out that may not have been appropriate. We want to see how proactive they, the banks, the administration, the rest had been to make sure that the under-banked community has outreach to it so they can participate.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:55)
So our back and forth is more on those kinds of figures. There are 26, 000 loans that went to people making $2 million or above. I mean, excuse me, I say it wrong, 26,000 loans of $2 million or above that went out. Are all of those really appropriate, I would say? Because in order to get a loan, people should know that criteria, one of the standards for it is that you have to certify, assert, certify that the funds that you’re asking for are essential to the sustainability of your company.
Nancy Pelosi: (23:42)
It could be for half, you could ask for half of what would be necessary for you to … But it can’t be, I’m a small business, I know my banker I’ll get a loan. No, that’s not what it’s about. And if it was not of good spirit in terms what the purpose was of it, you shouldn’t really be asking for that loan. And if those loans were made oblivious to the requirement that it be essential to the sustainability of your company, then that’s something that really should be reviewed and perhaps returned. Where are we now? We’ve had all of our … Okay. From the room, yes ma’am?
Speaker 3: (24:24)
Do you worry that the rules changed tomorrow will amount to a permanent change to the institution?
Nancy Pelosi: (24:29)
Speaker 3: (24:30)
And once it happens, when do you plan to bring the full house back?
Nancy Pelosi: (24:35)
Well, we’ll have the full house back tomorrow. And that’s what you have to have the representation of the body, a quorum of the body in order to change the rules. We couldn’t just say we’ve changed the rules now, come back and we’re doing this. I don’t see as that at all. I see it as the wonderful entrepreneurial dynamic of the house for us to say in a circumstance that was totally unforeseen, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, that it’s not only an economic disaster, but has personal risk, that we would have the opportunity to have remote voting by proxy and that is for the duration. I think it’s 45 days, it has a term limit. I can renew that, the Speaker, but it’s as finite for this purpose.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:27)
And we also say in there, let’s pursue and find out what other options there could be to remote voting. Right now, we don’t see any that have the viability, but science is moving all the time. I’m a big believer in technology, and perhaps there will be something, but we’re just talking about this timeframe. There have been other changes. After 9/11, it took three years for them to come to an agreement on where we would go if some of the members of Congress were incapacitated by such an event. God forbid, but incapacitated, not killed. Killed, you’ve reduced your quorum, but incapacitated, but you just can’t be there.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:17)
And so they took a long time and negotiated what would happen and how you establish a quorum so that Congress can continue in light of the fact that these members are alive, but not necessarily well or able to be in the chamber at the time. So these things take a while. This, I think we’re moving. We had bi-partisan talks for a while. There’d been some, again, everybody expressing opinions for a longer while. Mr. Hoyer, Mr. McGovern, Ms. Lofgren, chair of house admin, chair of rules, Democratic leader of the house with the Republican leader of the house and the corresponding chairs, Mr. Cole and Mr. Randy. Randy is not here.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:03)
Randy. [inaudible 00:00:03].
Speaker 4: (27:03)
Nancy Pelosi: (27:05)
Speaker 5: (27:06)
Speaker 4: (27:06)
Nancy Pelosi: (27:07)
Davis. Yeah. They had their meetings on a regular basis. And tomorrow we’re striving for bipartisanship. We picked up some of the suggestions that they have. By tomorrow, we’ll have that vote. But it is in keeping with the vitality of the House that we’re doing this, not in opposition to the traditions of the House.
Speaker 4: (27:32)
So is your expectation that you will use that full 45 days?
Nancy Pelosi: (27:36)
Well, God willing, this will go away. I mean, it could be that we don’t know. We just don’t know. The District of Columbia has just pushed back their shelter in place. Well, I mean, I would hope that it wouldn’t be any longer than that. But we just have to judge at the time. And not when I say we, I don’t mean me. I mean the capitol physician, the Sergeant at Arms, those who make a judgment about when we could lift such a …
Nancy Pelosi: (28:11)
And I know that part of it has a standard, that when the physician of the House, the Capitol physician … And he’s not of the House, he’s of the whole Capitol, declares such a situation to be in effect, that this would be in effect. Hopefully, it’s the shorter, the better. Yes, sir.
Speaker 5: (28:32)
Thank you. Tuesday night, your side lost a special election. How do you feel that fits in with the broader politics right now? Was it just a case of a personality contest, as opposed to healthcare, and the kitchen table agenda of 2018?
Nancy Pelosi: (28:47)
No, I don’t see it that way at all. And I think most observers of the scene have just said, “None of the elections now,” because of the unusual circumstances. We intend to win that seat in November. And we don’t see it as any referendum on anything, other than it was the first time we had vote by mail in the district, almost exclusively. Never exclusive, because you have to accommodate certain people, but overwhelmingly.
Nancy Pelosi: (29:16)
No, I wish we had won, but we weren’t touting that as something that we … We’re looking to November. Yes, ma’am? I think that’s it.
Speaker 6: (29:27)
Nancy Pelosi: (29:27)
One last question.
Speaker 7: (29:27)
Nancy Pelosi: (29:28)
So many women today. Well, some men, yeah.
Speaker 7: (29:30)
Thank you very much. I know that you have been very bold about China. Where do you stand? Do you believe China should be held accountable for its initial mishandling of the coronavirus conflict?
Nancy Pelosi: (29:46)
Let me just say that what the President is saying about China is interesting. It’s an interesting diversion. Right now, our focus should be on meeting the needs of the American people. I’ve even said, putting aside how we got here in our own country. Because we should be using our energy on how we go forward, than making judgements about what his administration did or didn’t do.
Nancy Pelosi: (30:10)
We’re talking about going forward. There’ll be plenty time for after action review. And apart from what we do, there’ll be scientists and others who will be tracing, not only rightfully so, it’s urgent and needed for them to trace the origins of such a pandemic scientifically, but not politically.
Nancy Pelosi: (30:33)
And, again, let’s keep our focus on meeting the needs of the American people, opening our economy, testing. It’s so clear with the health experts in the scientists. We want to get rid of the virus. That’s how we can go out. That’s when we can go to work and not be fearful that we’re going to come home and bring something dangerous to our children.
Nancy Pelosi: (30:56)
And so instead of diverting attention from mistakes that may have been made here, let’s just put that all aside and go forward for what we can do, working together for the good of the American people. Stay safe, wash your hands, wear your mask. Thank you all very much.
Nancy Pelosi: (31:19)
Don’t forget to go to speaker.gov, to see where you live, how much money goes there, what state you live in, more generally, and more congressional district. Thank you all.
Speaker 6: (31:33)
Speaker 8: (31:48)
And modern technology today revolved to where we have RFs. And we’re better to equip hospitals a lot quicker, and pick it, receive it real fast. And then when this coronavirus came into place, we had to really react. And we did a great job-