Jun 11, 2020
Nancy Pelosi Press Conference Transcript June 11
Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on June 11. Pelosi said that Confederate symbols “have to go” from the U.S. Capitol and army bases. She also said the U.S. needs “more money” for coronavirus, and attacked Mitch McConnell for “taking a pause.” Read her full news briefing speech here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
… The judiciary committee held a hearing policing practices and law enforcement accountability. That was their focus. The hearing was profoundly emotional. If anyone saw it, especially the testimony of George Floyd’s brother, Philonise, he is just a remarkable person. He and his wife [Kita 00:00:23] were here. And he said, if you saw, if you were in the room, ” The people marching in the streets are telling you, enough is enough. Be the leaders that this country, this world needs.” He challenged Congress. “George’s name means something.” He said, “If this death ends up changing the world for the better, and I think it will, it has, then he died as he had lived. It is on you to make sure his death is not in vain.” He talked about how wonderful his brother was in dying as he had lived.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:59)
Said, the black caucus is having a… And what the subject at hand was, was the legislation, the Justice and Policing Act to ensure that George’s death, Breonna Taylor’s death, Ahmaud Arbery’s death, and so many others who are not in vain. But you must know, but it bears repeating, what this bill is about. It bans choke-holds. That makes it different. Some other bills that are around. It bans choke-holds nationally. Stops no-knock warrants in a case of drug cases. Ends qualified immunity doctrine. That is a barrier to holding police officers accountable for wrong wrongful conduct. Combats racial profiling. Mandates data collection, including body cameras and dashboard cameras. And establishes a new standard for policing, among other things. It also passes our anti-lynching bill, the Emmett Till bill that had already passed the House, but that’s in there as well. So it’s very important.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:08)
I commend the Congressional Black Caucus, Karen Bass, the chair. She’s also the chair of the crime subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, which held that hearing yesterday and the leadership of the chairman of the committee, Mr. Nadler and Congresswoman Bass. And yesterday, when I chatted with the family before the hearing, George’s brother said to me, “I have a question for you. Is this going to happen? Is there going to be a bill that is passed? And why do you think so?” It’s a question that many of you have, but coming from him, it had power. And I had an answer. Yes, it will be passed, because the public insists upon it. I, as usual quoted Lincoln, “The public sentiment is everything. With it you can accomplish almost anything. Without it, practically nothing.” But in order for public sentiment to prevail, people have to know. And more than anything ever before, people do know what the challenge is, what the solutions are in this legislation and what the obstacles are to its passage.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:31)
So we will not rest until it becomes the law. We will not rest until the changes are made. And the rest of the countries ahead of us in states and towns, cities and states and towns, people are acting upon some of these provisions already. So it is our responsibility now to make sure that it does become the law. As we’re doing this, we see another injustice. The disparity in the deaths of the coronavirus crisis. It is so sad that people of color have a disproportionate share of the deaths in this crisis. And there’s a reason for that. Because we do not have a strategic plan executed by the Executive Branch for testing, tracing, treating, social distancing, to identify the size of the problem, those who are infected, so that we can treat them and conquer the virus. That’s what the HEROES Act does precisely.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:54)
Leadership of Frank Pallone, the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Congressman Eshoo, others on the Health Committee and the rest. This legislation, the HEROES Act, says, “Let’s open the economy.” We all agree. We want to do that. Let’s open the economy. Let’s have our children be able to go back to school safely, safely. We don’t have a vaccine and we don’t have a therapy. God willing, we will soon. And we hope and pray that science will be an answer to our prayers in that regard.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:32)
However, we do have a path, testing, testing, testing, If there’s one word we should all be saying over and over again, testing, testing, testing. We’re not even close to what we should be doing on a daily basis. The scientists, academics all over the country are preaching this, but the White House has not responded. And we must insist upon it in this legislation, testing, tracing, treating, social distancing, that will reduce the spread, kill, defeat this virus. And that’s, sadly in terms of people wanting to get out and not doing so with a mask. Real men wear masks, we always say. Without their mask, without their social distancing.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:38)
If you’re going to insist on leaving shelter in place, do so safely. Masks, distancing, but also testing, tracing, treating, distancing. And this is, again, part of the challenge here, people saw the injustice of the disparities of the coronavirus. We have an answer, the HEROES Act, the HEROES Act. The HEROES Act is also important because it is aptly named to honor our heroes, our healthcare workers, our first responders, our teachers, our transit workers, our food suppliers, all the rest who meet the needs of the American people. They, many of them, are risking their lives to save lives, and now they may lose their jobs. And why? Because states and localities have had extraordinary expenses to address the coronavirus, and they have lost revenue because of the coronavirus. The answer is the HEROES Act, which supplies resources for those two purposes to states and localities.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:55)
I say this every meeting, if you want to know how your area is affected, go to speaker.gov/heroesact, you’ll see the whole bill, but you also see how your state, your locality, your county is affected. That’s why we have bipartisan support across the country from state and local officials, democrats, and republicans demonstrating the need for this legislation. And by the way, it’s a big ticket, but it costs less than half than the republican tax scam to give a tax cut to the wealthiest people in our country, 83% of the benefits going to the top 1%. This is half of that. It is a stimulus to the economy, is a job protector for our community, as well as meeting the needs of the American people. And the HEROES Act also puts money into the pockets of people who need it most, unemployment insurance, direct payments…
Nancy Pelosi: (09:03)
People who need it most, unemployment insurance, direct payments to families in our country, issues that relate to feeding the hungry, why would the Republicans object to that? I don’t know you, you have to ask them, but there is bipartisan support throughout the country to feed the hungry. Food stamps, the WIC program, emergency funding programs to feed the hungry. It also has money for expanding FMAP which is Medicaid, very important part of our health initiatives. It also saves the Post Office, the Postal Service, bipartisan support. One of the most popular elements of government, in fact probably the most popular, over 90% favorable rating for the Post Office, meeting people’s needs in a very special way now but always, 90% of veterans get their medicines through the mail and so do other seniors as well. A large percentage of other seniors as well and of course, I’ll just end with this piece of it … Well we also have the OSHA in there through the worker protection, worker protection in there, which is really important to stopping the spread of the coronavirus as well.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:21)
We also have in there something that relates to our most fundamental principle of our democracy, voting. Voting. $3.6 billion in the bill, less than .1% of the bill, for voting, for voting by mail. It’s something that has again bipartisan support across the country, bipartisan support among Secretaries of State across the country, it is absolutely essential to our democracy that we remove obstacles to participation, now even more so when it is a health issue. I want to dwell on that for a moment. What we saw in Georgia the other day was shameful. It was either a disgrace of incompetence or disgrace of intention to suppress the vote. Time, it’s all about time, the time it takes you to vote, four, five, six hours or more in certain neighborhoods, 20 minutes or so or less in other neighborhoods. Really requires careful scrutiny because it looks like part of a pattern on the part of some to suppress the vote and some have even admitted it and some of you have probably seen some statements, but it is also a prelude to what could happen in November. Because we see it as a pattern of suppressing the vote, misinterpreting the vote, and so we have to protect the vote. Protect it leading up to the elections, protect it on the day of the elections, and protect the count of the vote so that every vote is counted as cast, as cast.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:36)
We see as I say manipulation of it in the social media. We always saw social media manipulation in terms of the peaceful demonstrations by those who would exploit that situation from outside the country, some inside the country as well. So manipulation of the social media, obstacles to participation, suppression of the vote, all part of the Republican playbook, all part of the Republican playbook, because they are afraid of the voters. They are afraid of the vote, and we must inoculate against the actions that are predictable, that they may take and we got a picture of that in Georgia just a couple days ago.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:34)
Now in terms of the HEROES Act, some of you have asked the same question that was asked about is the justice and policing bill going to pass? Are we going to pass the HEROES Act? More and more we’re hearing, this is from Secretary Mnuchin just this week, “I think we’re going to seriously look at whether we want to do more direct money to stimulate the economy.” He went on to say, “I definitely think we’re going to need another bipartisan legislation to put more money into the economy.” In addition to that, we’ve heard from the Fed that … The Fed has said again and again that we need more money in the economy and that we as legislators have a responsibility to tax and to spend in a way that grows the economy.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:33)
So they changed their tune. First they were not going to do anything. Chairman Powell reiterated his statement this week when he said, “The key thing people need to understand is that there’s just a lot of work to do in the labor market. We’re going to stick with this and support that until the work is done. I think it may require Congress to help as well.” He went on to say, ” Unemployment is historically high.” He said during a news conference Wednesday, that would be yesterday, “My assumption is that there will be a significant chunk well into the millions of people who don’t get to get their jobs back.” Who don’t get to go back to their old job, and there may not be a job in that industry for them for some time. Further, elected officials have the power to tax and spend and to make decisions about where we are as a society. They should direct our collective resources.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:37)
So again, to do nothing is the most expensive course of action. As the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office estimated just this past week, if we do not take immediate action, $16 trillion could be erased from the American economy over the next decade. $ 16 trillion, and yesterday, the CBO restated that because of COVID, growth for the next year alone will be nearly $4 trillion lower than predicted as recently as January. Yet Leader McConnell says, “Let’s take a pause.” Let’s take a pause? This virus again is not taking a pause, hunger is not taking a pause, joblessness is not taking a pause, rent checks being due or not taking a pause and the bills are not pausing.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:36)
Okay, so again, during this precarious time, COVID-19 continues to rage, racial injustice makes this deadly, we cannot, cannot pause, and so we are building public support in a bipartisan way across the country for the HEROES Act, building public support across the country, across all party lines, for the Justice and Policing Act. Pleased to take any questions you may have.
Speaker 2: (17:08)
Have you spoken at all to anyone in the administration about a police reform effort? Did they say they’re … They’d like to do something, I’m curious if you, since you control the floor, have heard anything about that?
Nancy Pelosi: (17:24)
I trust the judgment of our Congressional Black Caucus and our Judiciary Committee. They have made overtures to each other.
Speaker 2: (17:32)
[inaudible 00:17:32] to the administration?
Nancy Pelosi: (17:33)
To the Republicans on the other side of the aisle and the other side of the capitol, so far that’s what’s been reported to me. I don’t know what the overtures are from the White House, but I hope that they are sincere and I hope that they are real and I hope that they are statutory, that they will be the law of the land. We want this to be as non-partisan as possible. We think that in the public domain, in the public, people, Democrats and Republicans, non-partisan
Nancy Pelosi: (18:03)
… people, Democrats and Republicans, non-partisan, independents, however they identify themselves, want this to be non-partisan. What we are proposing, what the Black Caucus and the Judiciary Committee have proposed is very reasonable legislation. It’s not the end. We may have more things, but for now in terms of violence and justice and the police department, this is the bill.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:33)
Speaker 3: (18:36)
Madame Speaker, related to that, the White House this week has said that the issue specifically of the police immunity aspect is a non-starter for them. I’m curious as you move forward in the process, sort of how central that component is to the legislation. If you could even have a bipartisan bill without-
Nancy Pelosi: (18:51)
What is a non-starter to them?
Speaker 3: (18:53)
The police immunity aspect of it. [crosstalk 00:18:56]
Nancy Pelosi: (18:55)
Oh. I didn’t hear him say that, but that’s very important. The qualified immunity doctrine, which reigns many places, protects police officers from prosecution in spite of bad conduct that might be there. I think that’s a conversation that must be had, and we do have it in our legislation. We don’t paint all police, our police officers, our first responders, with the same brush. I’ve had conversations myself with some leaders in the community, in the law enforcement community and first responder community. I think there’s an openness, a recognition that things have to be done differently. Now let’s find our common ground.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:49)
Speaker 4: (19:51)
Thank you, madam Speaker. A question about opening up the economy, and then one of the issues is the childcare facilities. Millions of Americans want to go back to work, but they don’t have facilities open to secure care for their children. Yesterday, Congress received a letter from chambers, from state and local chamber yesterday sent a letter urging Congress to provide emergency funds to childcare centers in the next relief package. They’re saying that these are very small businesses owned by women mostly and they haven’t received PPP loans mostly. How is Hero’s Act responding? Do you think it’s safe to open the childcare facilities?
Nancy Pelosi: (20:35)
It isn’t safe to open them until it is safe to open them. I didn’t know what that letter is. I’ll be on the lookout for that. I haven’t seen that letter, but I will say this in a larger sense, whether we’re talking about coronavirus, which we are now, but just generally going back to work in a future bill. When I mean future, I mean eminently future bill. We have to do something very, very significant in terms of childcare because, as you indicate and as that letter indicates, this is central to women’s participation in the workforce, or whether it’s as a job or equity and ownership of a small business. It can’t happen unless we have this key to it all, which is quality, affordable, safe childcare for our children. I find that to be something that has very strong support. Congresswoman DeLauro, Congresswoman Clarke in the House of Patty Murray in the Senate, all leaders on this issue. This will get very big attention.
Nancy Pelosi: (21:47)
Another issue, since you opened that door, that requires a major adjustment in our resources is attending to mental health in our country. We passed parity bills and that and the rest, and that’s important, but we have to have a higher recognition of the challenge that we face in terms of mental health in our country. That’s really important in terms of good health and wellbeing of families. It’s also important in terms of law enforcement and the rest. Be on the lookout for where we go with mental health and with childcare.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:31)
Speaker 5: (22:33)
Madam Speaker, there’s an ongoing debate in the country about Confederate symbols, such as the statutes that have been in Congress for decades. It says something to the durability of those symbols in the Capitol that they’re still here, despite you being Speaker twice. Yesterday, you announced you’re going to try to have them moved. Over in the Senate side, the Armed Services Committee says, or their bill would force the renaming of Confederate, or bases named after Confederate generals. Can you talk about this phenomenon and whether or not your defense authorization bill will contain comparable language and will you force it through a veto threat if necessary?
Nancy Pelosi: (23:23)
Oh, the Senate piece you’re talking about is their bill that takes them out in three years?
Speaker 5: (23:27)
Nancy Pelosi: (23:27)
Okay. Let me just say that when I was Speaker, I did do what I had the authority to do, which was to relegate Robert E. Lee to the crypt. I could move things around. I couldn’t actually take them out, that requires something else. That’s why I wrote the letter yesterday, or a couple of days ago, June 10th, yesterday, about Stephens. It’s just, can you imagine Jefferson Davis, Alexandra Stephens? Treason. They committed treason against the United States of America and their statutes are still here because their states put them here. That’s why I wrote to Chairman Blunt here of the Rules Committee and the chair of our House Administration Committee, which is the equivalent Committee. Zoe Lofgren.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:21)
I particularly talked about Alexander Stephens because these are his words, the infamous words of Stephens makes it clear today, as they did in 1861, the aims of the Confederacy. It has come in his cornerstone speech. Stephens asserted that, “The prevailing ideas relied upon by our founders, included the assumption of the equality of man.” He goes on to say, ” This is wrong.” Then he goes on from there. You can see my letter and see what he says and see why it has to come out of the Capitol.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:09)
I do believe that the committees have the jurisdiction to move these statutes, but we also had legislation. Barbara Lee and Benny Thompson, the Chair of Homeland Security Committee, and Barbara Lee, the senior member of Appropriations Committee, member of our House Democratic leadership, they have legislation that would get rid of, well, we have 11 of them that we have our eye on. But it may take legislation or action by the Rule Committee. Believe me, if I had more authority, we would have fewer the statutes around.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:50)
The question you asked about the Armed Services Committee relates to the names of the military bases, correct? You were not talking about statutes in the House? Yeah. We’ll see, that may require legislation. But I want to tell you something, the American people know these names have to go. These names are white supremacist that said terrible things about our country. This is like over 100 years, after World War II, some of these names were given to these bases. You listen to who they are and what they said, and then you have the president make a case as to why a base should be named for them. He seems to be the only person left who doesn’t get it.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:46)
I don’t know if it will be in the bill. We may have free-standing, might combine with statues in the capital. I don’t know because that will be up to the makers of the motion to suggest how they would like to proceed, but these names have to go from these bases and these statutes have to-
Nancy Pelosi: (27:03)
But, these names have to go from these bases and these statues have to go from the Capitol. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 6: (27:06)
House Speaker, have you heard back from Senator Blunt to followup on his question? Has Senator Blunt had any conversation or correspondence with you?
Nancy Pelosi: (27:15)
No but I think he’s spoke in the public domain and saying, “It’s up to the States.” But it may be up to the States to send it here, but it’s not up to the States where it might be. And we cannot have these statues in that place. Now, as I said earlier, public sentiment is everything. This is a perfect time for us to move those statues. Because other times people may think, “Oh, who cares? I never go there anyway. They all look alike to me. They’re all these white men there.” That’s what I think. On the other hand, the timing might be just right. Yes, ma’am. Now I’ll come to you. [inaudible 00:01: 00].
Speaker 7: (28:01)
Have you and Leader McConnell made any progress on making a chair to the Congressional Oversight Commission? Do you plan to release any names for the people in consideration for that role?
Nancy Pelosi: (28:15)
Speaker 7: (28:16)
Nancy Pelosi: (28:18)
Yes. We’ve made progress. I thought that was a yes or no. Oh, so now you have a followup question. When? Hopefully soon as I think it will be eminent. Yeah. So thank you for your question.
Speaker 8: (28:37)
To followup on their questions. Do you have the power yourself then to move Alexander Stephens, Jefferson Davis from Statuary Hall into some dark corner of the Capitol, the Visitor Center, or a far away spot. And if so, will you do so?
Nancy Pelosi: (28:55)
Well, we’ll see. In other words, we’ll we try. You start with the feather. Always like to start with a feather. Let’s see how we can have consensus about this. And some of our members over the years, especially our members in the black caucus have just wondered, “What are these people doing here?” But most of us don’t know one from the other. There they are. But Jesse Jackson Jr. Wrote a book on this, I believe on a more perfect union. It did not include Alexander Stephens and Jefferson Davis having a place of honor in the Capitol of the United States.
Nancy Pelosi: (29:41)
But let’s focus on the bill. Let’s focus on no chokeholds, no racial profiling, no knock warrants in case of drug cases. Let’s talk about ending injustice, racial injustice in our law enforcement. Let’s focus on what we do about immunity in terms of prostitution and the legislation and how we go forward. Let’s see how we can work together. Recognizing that there are many fine people in our first responders in our law enforcement. Many of them want to be part of the solution, but they haven’t been.
Nancy Pelosi: (30:26)
And so now we need this legislation. And again, statues, this, that, and the other thing that’s important, but what’s important is that if we had no chokehold, George Floyd would be with us. If we had a data collection, that little boy, oh my gosh, 12-years-old, killed by a police officer who was fired from another jurisdiction and then hired elsewhere. If we had the no knock more in place, we would not have had Breonna’s passing away. And so again, this legislation would translate into lives and that’s what George Floyd’s brother was talking about yesterday. Save lives, stop this. Save lives.
Speaker 9: (31:28)
There’s a spike going on in some parts of the country. Is there any thought about breaking out the testing part of it HEROES Act and passing that, or is there any way to speed up this-
Nancy Pelosi: (31:39)
If the administration were interested, they would have been doing it themselves. But it does have significant funding for the testing, tracing, treatment, social distancing, and the rest. It has requirements for collecting the data so that we know the size of the problems so that we can take it out. And also that we can treat the disparities. Most importantly, that we can treat the disparities.
Nancy Pelosi: (32:06)
So again, it is one of the pillars, the three pillars on our heroes, state, and local government, open our economy with the testing, tracing, treating, and money in the pockets of the American people. While at the same time, we have funds for voting, the postal service, OSHA and food. So the whole package is about the security, the lives, the livelihood, and the life of our democracy.
Speaker 9: (32:44)
[inaudible 00:32:44] shaking it up?
Nancy Pelosi: (32:46)
Well, any one of those I could say any one of those we could take out, we can take out state and local, but then we don’t have unemployment insurance and direct payments. We can take our testing, but then we don’t have the job security for the healthcare workers who would be providing all of that. So it has a connection. And by the way, we’re telling administration to do what they should have been doing all along. This is June 11th. On March 11th, how many deaths were there? Fewer than a hundred, right? On March 11. And now they’re over a 100,000 on a path to perhaps 200,000. Let’s see if we can prevent that. Thank you.