Jun 18, 2020
Nancy Pelosi Press Conference Transcript June 18
Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on June 18. Pelosi ordered the removal of portraits of ex-House speakers who served in the Confederacy. Read her full news briefing speech here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
Speaker 1: (00:02)
Good morning speaker.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:03)
And a good morning it is. The Supreme Court decision upholding President Obama’s wonderful action to support our Dreamers. The DACA decision is something that supports our values as a country. The Dreamers across the country enjoy more popularity than almost everyone, overwhelmingly. It’s something like 75, 80% of the American people, three-quarters of the people who vote support the Dreamers. Three-quarters of it, large number of Republicans, Independents, over 60% of people who support President Trump support the Dreamers. So this is really … We were just in such dread about what could possibly happen at the Court up until last night just if it goes this way, if it goes that way, but this way is the American way and we’re very proud of it, so that was this morning.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:08)
Last night, in the Judiciary Committee, late last night, the committee overwhelmingly passed out the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act which will now go to Rules and then come to the floor before the Fourth of July. We’re very proud of the work that was done by Chairwoman Karen Bass, the chair of the Judiciary Committee but also the chair of the Crime Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. This morning, the Supreme Court and DACA, last night, the Judiciary Committee and the Justice and Policing Act.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:49)
Tomorrow is Juneteenth, a day that we observe as a day of freedom in our country. It was a day that people in the West found out about the Emancipation Proclamation. In observance of that, I have sent a letter, she will see, to the Clerk of the House directing of the clerk to remove the portraits of four previous Speakers of the House who served in the Confederacy. We didn’t know about this until we were taking inventory of the statues and the curator told us that there were four paintings of speakers in the Capitol of the United States, four speakers who had served in the Confederacy. So tomorrow, Juneteenth, the clerk will oversee removal of those Confederate speakers from the House. As I have said before, there is no room in the hallowed halls of this democracy, this temple of democracy, to memorialize people who embody violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy. You have to see the remarks that they had made, how oblivious they were to what our founders had in mind in our country. We must lead by example, so we’re glad that that is gone.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:25)
I’ll take some questions in a moment about the Justice and Policing Act, but we are very proud of the legislation that was put together. It was a work of decades. These bills have been in the hopper for a while, but in terms of the public sentiment to get the job done in a strong way, the moment is now. As we take action on injustice and policing, we also have to recognize other injustice in our country, whether it’s injustice in healthcare, in the economy, environmental injustice that exists, the list goes on, and one manifestation of it right now is the coronavirus impact having a disparate impact on people of color in our country and so we’re hoping and pushing and advocating for the passage of the HEROES Act, to open our economy, testing, tracing, treating, isolating. Get the job done, we don’t have a vaccine and we don’t have a cure. Hopefully we will and that science will be the answer to our prayers in that regard, but we do have testing, tracing, treatment, and we want to address that in a way that takes the data, that shows the disparate impact on people of color in our country so that we can save their lives, so that we can save their lives.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:59)
The legislation also has an impact on our economy and yesterday and the day before, Chairman of the Fed Jerome Powell urged Congress not to take our foot off the brake. I would think it would be of concern to Congress, if Congress were to pull back from the support that it is providing too quickly. I do think it would be appropriate to think about continuing support for people who are newly out of work and for smaller businesses who are struggling. The economy is just now beginning to recover, it is at a critical phase and I think the support would be well-placed at this time. He’s not the only one, Moody’s yesterday, the economic forecasting firm Moody’s, published an analysis that highlights the need for the HEROES Act. “Without additional help from Congress and the administration prospects for double-digit unemployment throughout the end of next year and even this assumes nothing else goes wrong like a serious second wave of the virus. How well the economy does in the next several years depends critically on what lawmakers decide to do in the next few weeks.”
Nancy Pelosi: (06:17)
In the next few weeks, we are hoping that … As you have seen, it went from never, we’re not doing another bill, to well, maybe, but not so big and maybe but not so soon, and you see they’re having their own internal debate about the size and scope and timing of what happens next, but we must help our … Honor our heroes, help our state and local governments. I’ve told you before, Speaker.gov/HeroesAct to see what it means to you and your community. Open our economy, testing, tracing, treating and isolation, and direct payments. It has been said by economists including Chairman Powell that improvement that was viewed in the May employment numbers was largely a cause of the unemployment insurance and the direct payments. We must do that again, and of course we want our voting, vote by mail money in there as well.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:27)
So later today, not here but in the Rayburn Room, House Democrats will unveil H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, taking bold, transformational action to build the infrastructure of America while again addressing key injustices, justice of transportation and transit and the rest. Sadly the COVID-19 crisis has laid bare many vulnerabilities and disparities in our nation in terms of healthcare, financial security, housing, transportation …
Nancy Pelosi: (08:03)
Financial security, housing, transportation, and more, which we will combat with this legislation. Democrats plan will protect families health, create jobs, grow the economy, invest in clean energy and climate resilience and ensure that America’s infrastructure is the envy of the world. We’ll bring this bill to the floor and pass it before the 4th of July. And with that, the three things we said when we ran for the people, we would lower the cost of prescription drugs, lower the cost of healthcare by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and preserving the pre-existing condition. That bill, once again, will be on the floor on June 29th, the Affordable Care Enhancement Act.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:51)
The next day, and maybe it’ll take two days, we’ll vote on lower healthcare costs, bigger paychecks by building the infrastructure of America. That will be the next two days. And before then, making our government better with the Justice in Policing Act, which will the end of next week. With that, any questions? Yes, sir?
Speaker 2: (09:14)
Madame Speaker, on the police reform bill, I know this is getting a little bit ahead of things, but I know you’re very proud of your bill. The Senate Republicans introduced theirs. Can you imagine would you support and end up in conference on this? I mean, there’s a limited amount you can do to affect what the Senate’s going to do, but if you could move things in parallel [crosstalk 00:09:31]?
Nancy Pelosi: (09:30)
Well, we’d like to end up in conference because that’s how Congress works. It’s [inaudible 00:09:36] the House acts, the Senate acts, and you go to conference and try to reconcile the legislation. It’s so important. The American people care so much. They know so much. They are watching, and this is an opportunity that we have never had before. As you can see, taking all kinds of shape in terms of setting the record straight as to who we are as a country and how we treat people.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:03)
And so, again, my negotiators are led by Karen Bass and Jerry Nadler, the chair of the Judiciary Committee. And I’m very proud of the work that they have done. It’s very different in terms of what it does than the Senate bill, but at least they have similar categories.
Speaker 2: (10:23)
Well, to that end, in your conversations with Leader Schumer, are you encouraging him to let that Senate bill move forward to ultimately get to that point?
Nancy Pelosi: (10:30)
One of the things you should know about our interaction, is they don’t tell me what to do, and I don’t tell them what to do. That’s up to the Senate to make their own decisions about how they go forward. But we do have a bill that is introduced in the House and in the Senate. We’re very proud of the work also of Senator Booker and Senator Harris and how they contributed to what this bill is. And we’ll leave it up to them to make their judgment about how to proceed. Yes, sir? Good morning.
Speaker 2: (11:03)
On the DACA ruling, in mid-November, the president indicated that if the Supreme Court ruling did not go his direction, he might be willing to make a deal. I remember I asked you a couple of years ago when we were dealing with the border wall issue, if you would be willing to trade border wall money for a bonafide DACA agreement. You said no, at that point.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:20)
Speaker 2: (11:20)
Do you see the possibility for any sort of, based on what the president said in November, a deal on DACA or moving some sort of immigration legislation between now and the election?
Nancy Pelosi: (11:33)
Well, we would like to pass the Dream Act, the Dream and Promise Act, which goes well beyond DACA to many more Dreamers. It goes for TPS, Temporary Protective Status, DED, a deferred enforcement kind of provision. So we would like to see that bill pass. What we’d really like, though, is to come together to talk about the comprehensive immigration reform that goes even well beyond the legislation I just talked about. But there isn’t anybody in the immigration community that wants us to trade a wall for immigration.
Speaker 2: (12:12)
But what about just doing immigration, is that back on the table now where you can see the House maybe passing an immigration bill now before say, the election.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:20)
Well, we did pass a bill. It’s called the Dream Act.
Speaker 2: (12:22)
I know, but I mean the comprehensive is what I’m talking about.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:25)
Well, well, we’ll see. I mean, there had been times when the president had said that he would support bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform right there on TV, in the White House with Democratic and Republican members of Congress and the House and Senate there, and then reneged on it. So, we’ll see. I mean, it would be great if we could do that. It’s what we really need to do for our country. There was bipartisan support in the Senate for such a bill, which the House Republicans would not allow it to be brought up in the House. So it isn’t as if we haven’t found our common ground. We can, but there’s not much time. 100, what is it? 130-
Speaker 2: (13:10)
Eight, something like that. [crosstalk 00:13:14]
Nancy Pelosi: (13:14)
Eight days. 138 days. Well, let’s hope for the best. And always try to find that. But I don’t know what the president meant. Maybe he doesn’t either, because he’s backed off what he said before. Yes, ma’am?
Speaker 3: (13:31)
Madame Speaker, obviously, there are stunning allegations in John Bolton’s new book. I’m curious. Do you want to see him testify in the House, and would you be willing to subpoena him if necessary?
Nancy Pelosi: (13:44)
Well, it’s interesting because he was so arrogant in terms of the House when we were engaged in the impeachment. We did impeach the president of the United States. Removing him from office, requires a vote of the Senate. And many of them have said there’s nothing that John Bolton has put forth that would change their mind about removing the president from office, because no matter how unfit the president is, they just did not want a Democratic president.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:18)
President Trump, by [inaudible 00:14:21] of what we saw in the impeachment, by what others are being quoted as saying, in terms of leaders in the president’s own administration, President Trump is clearly ethically unfit and intellectually unprepared to be the president of the United States. That doesn’t seem to matter to the Republicans in the United States Senate. It didn’t seem to matter to John Bolton. He chose royalty over patriotism, and so, he’s going to make money off of his book, I guess.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:59)
So, we’ll make a judgment. I’ll be meeting with the chairs to make a judgment, because it’s not necessarily about whether we subpoena or what, we did subpoena some of his employees. And they very courageously testified. Some of the people who worked with him, very courageously testified, as Mr. Schiff’s statement, Mr. Schiff put out a very strong statement. I call it to your attention. Eliot Engel, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee put out a very strong statement on this. And we’ll be discussing how the American people are best served by oversight. The public has a right to know.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:38)
As you know, we’re waiting for the court to decide maybe by the end of this month, as to whether they will support what our founders had in mind, the separation of powers, three separate co-equal branches of government, each a check and balance on the other. That is what is at stake, and it’s before the Supreme Court now, when it comes to subpoenas being respected by the-
Nancy Pelosi: (16:03)
… When it comes to subpoenas being respected by the executive branch. So we’ll take a review. One thing is for sure, American people have the right to know our oversight will always continue, whether that’s by subpoena other way. I’ll discuss that with the chairs of the committees.
Speaker 4: (16:20)
Given what you’ve seen in the book though, do you have-
Nancy Pelosi: (16:22)
I haven’t seen the book. I’m not paying any money for a book. I don’t want to pay any money for a book that was a substitute for testifying before Congress about the wellbeing of the American people.
Speaker 4: (16:35)
Do you have any regrets about not-
Nancy Pelosi: (16:37)
I have no regrets. No, I’m very proud of what we did. Decisions were made. So for somebody who’s trying to keep the con going with the right wing of the Republican party by criticizing us for not subpoena him when he said he wouldn’t come in, he’d only go to the Senate where he knew the Senate would not subpoena him. So this is called a con, and we are very proud of what we have done. And it’s really a sad thing because he knew that the President should be removed from office. That’s clear. And he does want to keep his ties to the right wing, so he does that by criticizing us. I place no value on that.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:24)
I repeat, President Trump, the evidence is clear. It always has been. President Trump is ethically unfit and intellectually unprepared to be President of the United States.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:40)
Speaker 5: (17:40)
Madam Speaker, related a little bit to what Chad had asked you about these sort of big moments that Congress has faced before, whether it be immigration or gun violence or deficit reduction, we have seen these moments where it seems like there’s a lot of buy-in for a common cause only for it to fall apart at the end. And I’m curious your level of confidence on police reform, given that this appears to be one of those moments.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:03)
Well, go back to Abraham Lincoln. Public sentiment is everything. With it, you can accomplish almost anything. Without it, practically nothing. Now, you’ve heard me say that before-
Speaker 5: (18:13)
Once or twice.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:14)
Again and again and again. And it is a fact. And for public sentiment to weigh in, the public has to know, and that is sometimes the challenge. Do people really know what the choice is here? They do. They do. They have made it clear. Beautifully, patriotically, peacefully, and for the Congress of the United States to ignore that call for justice would be wrong.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:47)
So I have confidence that something will happen now because it must, because the people insist, and they’re not going to stop insisting until we get something done.
Speaker 5: (19:00)
[crosstalk 00:19:03]? Yes.
Speaker 2: (19:01)
Madam Speaker, I just want to go back to the police reform bills for a moment.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:11)
Excuse me, I’m so sorry. A bit louder?
Speaker 2: (19:11)
Sorry about that. I just want to talk to the police reform bills for a moment, and some of the reactions from law enforcement. Over in Los Angeles, there’s been a reaction. Apparently, some officers did not show up to a work over at the MTA. Over in Atlanta, we’re hearing that officers didn’t report to work there. Is there a concern about “blue flu” essentially happening across the country in reaction to what we’re seeing up here on Capitol Hill, as well as locally?
Nancy Pelosi: (19:42)
I think that the men and women in blue, whether that’s firefighters … They’re in blue, too, I think. But our men and women in blue, there are enough of them there to keep the American people safe who care about doing their jobs in a way that honors justice. And we’ve had communication with the Fraternal Order of Police. I’ve connected them with Karen Bass so that she could hear some of their concerns, and we think that there’s a place for us to come together. We do know that there are some people who, as we’ve seen their actions … I don’t think everybody who wears blue would be proud of those actions, but I do think there are many people in blue whose actions we are proud of, and I think there are enough of them to keep the American people safe.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:46)
Any more women? Any more women? No more women. Yes, man.
Speaker 6: (20:49)
Nancy Pelosi: (20:55)
Oh, we can have one more.
Speaker 6: (20:55)
Speaker 4: (20:56)
Have you spoken to the administration at all about negotiating on the Heroes Act, and are you open to pulling out elements of the Heroes Act and putting it on the floor as smaller bills to address the pandemic and the need for relief?
Nancy Pelosi: (21:07)
Well, what would they want to do? If we take out the state and local government money, which is absolutely essential, by the end of June, many states and localities have to have their budgets balanced. But the Grim Reaper said he doesn’t care about that. Really? Really? You don’t care about the fact that state and local governments who meet the needs of people need to have their budgets balanced. And this is money that is needed for them to pay for the cost of the coronavirus to them. Their outlays of money to meet the needs, and their loss of revenue. Meet the needs, loss of revenue on the coronavirus.
Nancy Pelosi: (21:56)
Testing, testing, testing. Are they willing to help the states to test in a way that fights this virus, defeats this virus? Why would we divide those two? Because they are directly connected. And what piece would they want to do? They say they don’t want to do unemployment insurance. This is the 13th week that we’ve had over a million people applying for unemployment. 13th straight week over a million.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:34)
So what piece would you subtract? This is a very disciplined, focused, necessary piece of legislation. Honor our heroes; support state and local; open our economy; testing, tracing, treatment; money in the pockets of the American people. I think they’re all very connected, and should go forward together.
Nancy Pelosi: (23:08)
I haven’t seen them say we should help state and local. A few of them in the Senate have. I haven’t seen anybody in the House say that. I haven’t seen any of them say we really need to test so that we can address this comprehensively, addressing the disparity in all of this. And I have heard someone say they don’t want to do anymore unemployment insurance.All the three things I just mentioned, they are all stimulus to the economy. They’re all stimulus to the economy. Because, I have to say it all the time, the one piece, state and local government, speaker.gov/heroesact. Go look it up. It’s half, costs half of what the Republican-
Nancy Pelosi: (24:03)
Cost half of what the Republicans did in their tax scam, which gave 83% of the benefits to the top 1%, did not provide any stimulus to the economy, and heaped $2 trillion of debt onto our children. For half of what they were willing to do for the high end, we’ll want to do for the whole country and, at the same time, honor our heroes. Yes, sir.
Speaker 2: (24:34)
[inaudible 00:24:34] You said you don’t like the Republican bill, but at least the category seemed the same on the policing reform, or you indicated that. I wonder if you see more urgency here on police reform than you saw on the gun question or any number of other bills that the Senate has not taken up? At least you’re both working on the same topic. I wonder if that’s notable to you at all.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:57)
Well, the gun issue is very important. Yesterday was the five year anniversary, as you know, of that terrible shooting where that young man went in there, prayed with people, and then shot them dead. So we’ve been carrying that around for that long time but memorializing it again yesterday. The gun issue is a very important issue and it’s one that is a very background check legislation, including Mr. Clyburn’s South Carolina fix is important to us. 80% of American people support that, including gun owners, who have to have background checks and they do comply with that and support that legislation.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:47)
We haven’t seen tens of thousands of people in the streets day in and day out over a long period of time. A message that’s spread throughout the world about justice. So that demonstration in the streets was about this issue, that police brutality, but also about fairness across the board. When you’re talking about brutality and you’re talking about safety, you’re talking about guns too. So that continues to be a very important issue for us. But you would have to admit, and it’s quite obvious to all of us, that we have not ever seen anything quite like the peaceful demonstrations that are out there awakened by the visible strangulation, lynching, chokehold of George Floyd, and the reaction that people had to it. It wasn’t the first time it happened. It happened many times before but it just somehow or other was the tipping point.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:08)
I’ll just close by saying what I’ve said to you before. We had Ryan Stevenson, he has the lynching museum in Alabama, where many of us were just there in March. He has two, one is like a monument and the other one’s a museum. When you go to the museum, it’s about slavery and this or that. I bring it up again because, as a mom, it just impressed me so. I had my grandson with me when we saw this. There are two little children on the wall, they’re slaves and they speak. They say, “Mama, mama.” They’re little children. “Mama, mama. Has anyone seen our mother? Does anyone know where our mother is?” Of course, the mother has been separated from the children and the brutality of all of that.
Nancy Pelosi: (28:08)
Then to hear George Floyd call after his mother, just a universal call. The humanity of it all, I think it just struck such a cord for many reasons. Not just the mama part, but the part of 8 minutes and 46 seconds that somebody pled a number of times, “I can’t breathe.” Inhumanity of it all, I think, has taken us to a place where we will have justice. We will have a bill. I hope that is sooner rather than later. Thank you.
Speaker 7: (28:55)
Is there going to be baseball?
Nancy Pelosi: (28:55)
I hope so.
Speaker 7: (29:01)
Have you spoken with any of the league commissioners?
Nancy Pelosi: (29:03)
No, I haven’t.