May 21, 2020
Nancy Pelosi Press Conference Transcript May 21
Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on Thursday, May 21. Read the full transcript here on Rev.com.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
… to pass the 19th amendment. As you know, that is the amendment that gives women the right to vote. Not that they were given, because they fought very hard for it, but that success was achieved. It took another year for it to be passed, the rest of the process, the ratification and the rest.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:20)
In August we’ll be observing the 100th anniversary of women having the right to vote, but today we are honoring women, what happened in the House of Representatives on this very day. And we’re very proud of the fact that we have over a hundred women in Congress now, over 90 women on the democratic side. We made a decision about that a long time ago.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:46)
Among them are… Carolyn Maloney who couldn’t be with us, but she has been a champion on all of these issues, whether it’s the Women’s Museum or the ERA, Equal Rights Amendment, you name it, the effect of public policy on women in every way. And I want to salute her as well as the three chairs of our Democratic women’s caucus: Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, and an ongoing chair Congresswoman Lois Frankel of Florida. But we have many in this picture, many chairs of committees, of both chairs of both committees, and we’re very proud of the contribution to women in the Congress of the United States dating back to 101 years ago when this House took the initiative to go forward.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:38)
I’m very honored to be joined here today by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, representative from the District of Columbia, Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland. We’re all spaced appropriately… Of Maryland, and Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands. Welcome to all of you.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:59)
Okay. We’re in challenging times. And again, we have a privilege of celebrating the right to vote. As speaker, again, I’m proud to serve with over a hundred women in the House. Sadly, as we observe this milestone, voting is under assault. It is both from a systemic nationwide campaign of voter suppression and from the coronavirus. The fear of getting sick threatens some not to go to the poll. People should not have to choose between voting and preserving their good health and that of their families. Because no matter what you do, when you go out, you bring it home. Again, no one should be forced to be forced to vote for their health for their vote.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:49)
In the CARES Act, we put a down payment of $400 million for states to protect the ballot. In the HEROES Act, we add to that the balance of what we think we need to have voting at home and to protect the ballot. That would be $3.6 billion, a small price to pay for our democracy and the good health of Americans going to the polls. It would be there to expand vote at home, vote by mail some call it, at home, including no-excuse absentee ballot, same-day registration. And again, having polling places available for those who want to participate in person for whatever reason, whether it’s questions about the ballot or their ballot and the rest. That they have appropriate timing, placing and the rest for that. And again, online registration and same-day voter registration, which I mentioned, this is all very, very important.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:54)
We call on Leader McConnell… We have the HEROES bill. Others say he has the zeroes bill. We need this bill for many reasons. We need it for to honor our heroes, protect those who are risking their lives every day to save lives, and at the same time, may lose their jobs. With our state and local, tribal and territorial support in the legislation, open our economy with the testing, tracing, treatment and isolation that is in there and putting money in the pockets of the American people as we get through this terrible economic challenge. As you see the numbers this morning, matters are even worse.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:40)
Central to so much of it, as we say, this is about the life, the livelihood and the life of our democracy. Central to the life of our democracy is removing obstacles of participation to voting. And now even more so, when voting can be a risk to your health as we saw it demonstrated in Wisconsin.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:04)
Here we are with, again, saluting our women members of Congress. Imagine the courage of the suffragists, the courage that they had to make this happen. It took a long time, and how proud we are to stand on their shoulders now to make public policy for our great country and we don’t want anything to stand in the way of the right to vote.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:31)
I have a privilege now of introducing a very special guest, a leader in our House Democratic Caucus, a leader of women in the country, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is serving her 15th term in the House of Representatives, representing the District of Columbia. Before her congressional service, President Jimmy Carter appointed her as the first woman to have the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC. Very prestigious, very important. Eleanor Holmes Norton came to Congress a national figure, a champion of civil rights and feminist movement. She is a tenured professor at Georgetown University School of Law… Where my son went in undergrad, Representative Plaskett… the board member of three Fortune 500 companies-
Eleanor Holmes Norton: (06:30)
I can’t do that anymore [inaudible 00: 06:31]. As a member of Congress, you can’t be on public boards.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:35)
I’m just saying you came to Congress as that.
Eleanor Holmes Norton: (06:37)
Nancy Pelosi: (06:40)
Just to say that’s why she was named one of the 100 most powerful women, and then of course, one of the most powerful women in Washington. The congressional work of congressional voting representation has been so much for the District of Columbia, been so much a part of what her leadership has been about and so many other things as well. She has led us with her lifelong struggle for equal and civil rights and universal human rights.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:12)
It’s an honor on this day, when we recognize the 100th anniversary of the House voting for women to have the right to vote for me to recognize someone they’d all be very, very proud of, representative from the District of Columbia, Eleanor Holmes, Norton.
Eleanor Holmes Norton: (07:29)
Thank you very much.
Eleanor Holmes Norton: (07:33)
Well, I want to thank Speaker Pelosi for this kind introduction. But above all, for inviting me to speak really for the 103 women who as a result of the 19th amendment are here in this House and growing. I appreciate particularly speaking this year when the DC Statehood Bill has enough co-sponsors to pass, so this is fraught with meaning for me when it comes to the rights of abode. But I particularly appreciate Speaker Pelosi. You’re not letting 2020 become only the year of the pandemic and not letting us keep from remembering that we’re celebrating 101 years of the right of women to vote.
Eleanor Holmes Norton: (08:41)
Madam Speaker, we have just passed a proxy voting bill. The way to see me here is I am standing proxy for those, as is my good friend, for those 103 women. And that we’re not going to let anything stand in the way of the right to vote now that we have it or of extolling what it means to us.
Eleanor Holmes Norton: (09:18)
The women who are in the House with the right to vote also have come to lead in the House. Today, we not only celebrate the right of American women to vote, but also the women in the Congress who have risen to leadership; nine of them are committee chairs, seven in the House, two in the Senate. For us, this anniversary has meaning on so many different levels from Jeanette Rankin to Nancy Pelosi. Jeannette Rankin, a Republican; Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat.
Eleanor Holmes Norton: (10:12)
Now the speaker is not one to be satisfied with being one-of-a-kind, the first woman speaker, or even being first among equals, so I join her in celebrating the right of women in the United States to vote and hope we will celebrate, yes, 102nd year, the 103rd year, until the number of women in the House at least equals the number of men. We’re getting there. Thank you.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:56)
Thank you very much, Eleanor. And as we have discussed between us and among us when we’re together, we’re so proud that women have taken seriously the sacred right of voting and so many women are turning out for elections to vote, so many women to run, so many women to win. And with that, speaking of the right to vote, I have the privilege of presenting a champion in the Congress of the United States, who has been the author and the inspiration, the intellectual leader in HR1, a legislation that we ran on in 2018.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:38)
As we said, our platform was only three things in 2018, and it continues to be our focal points. One to lower the cost of healthcare by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and keeping the preexisting condition benefit as a benefit. Two, that’s lower health costs to bigger paychecks by building the infrastructure of America in a green way. God bless you. Three, to keep a cleaner government. HR-1, and in HR-1 one are so many elements so that are about promoting the vote and ending voter suppression.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:17)
But I want you to hear from the author himself, he has been a relentless, persistent, dissatisfied advocate and leader on this subject. And he commands the respect of not only the members of Congress on this subject, but so many others out there who care in a bipartisan way and in a nonpartisan way on how sacred it is to protect the right to vote. Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:47)
Let’s see how we do this now. Okay, I’ll go this way. I’ll go here.
John Sarbanes: (12:53)
Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. Let me first join you in saluting Eleanor Holmes Norton for her incredible career. I’m standing here with two amazing champions of voting in this country. For the work they’ve done, we should all be very, very grateful.
John Sarbanes: (13:12)
But Eleanor Holmes Norton’s advocacy on behalf of the vote, on behalf of women and on behalf of the District of Columbia is legendary. It began decades ago. It continues in force today. And I want to thank her for her leadership of the DC Statehood Bill. We got that out of committee, as you know. Very proud to do that. We think there’s strong momentum and actually within the four corners of HR-1, there was findings of language that set the table for this in many ways. And I want to thank Congresswoman Norton for all of her efforts and support behind HR-1, the For the People Act.
John Sarbanes: (14:02)
To Speaker Pelosi-
Congressman Sarbanes: (14:03)
… where the people act. The Speaker Pelosi, what can I say? No greater advocate for voting and empowerment, of all people in this country, but certainly for women, and the women candidates that joined our ranks in 2018 are a testament to the incredible work and leadership and groundbreaking nature of Nancy Pelosi’s time and career in public office.
Congressman Sarbanes: (14:34)
Good things start in the House. They continue to, but if you look back at the moment we are marking today, this is the 101st anniversary today of the vote in the House of Representatives to approve the 19th amendment. What happened was, is I think two votes that proceeded it, where the House supported it, but the Senate did not follow through, but the House kept at it, and finally, on May 21, they cast the vote that was later seconded by the United States Senate, and we went from there to the process of ratification. So important for our country.
Congressman Sarbanes: (15:20)
There’s no question that health concerns remain at the forefront right now for the country, and certainly the economic dislocation that’s come from the COVID-19 impact. But we also know from talking to our constituents, from polls, that people are anxious as well about having the opportunity to vote in this very, very important election year, and so we’ve got to do everything we can to protect and preserve that opportunity, because in a democracy, and certainly we believe in a democracy like ours, voting is an essential activity. People have to be able to exercise that vote without sacrificing their health and their safety.
Congressman Sarbanes: (16:10)
Our caucus has made voting and voting empowerment a priority from day one, and with the leadership of many women candidates who came in 2018, followed through on a promise to make sure that we would reform democracy and expand opportunities for voting in this country, and that’s what H.R. 1 included. And this class was the class that made sure, under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, that we got that done in the first 100 days, by March 8 of 2019. We also passed H.R. 4, The Voting Rights Advancement Act, which provides support for expanding the right to vote across the country and knocking down barriers to the right to vote.
Congressman Sarbanes: (17:03)
So those priorities were embedded in H.R. 1, and all of those measures were designed to make voting more robust and easier in America. What we didn’t know, and we now know, is many of those provisions also make voting safer in America, and that’s why we’ve incorporated into the HEROES Act, and again, I want to thank the Speaker for her leadership as the architect of the HEROES Act, and particularly focusing on this piece related to voting, we carried forward that imperative to make sure that voting would be available to people across the country, and the measures included are ones that make it safer to vote. Expanding vote by mail opportunities across the country, as the Speaker said, online voter registration, same day voter registration, making sure there’s enough early voting opportunities for people in the country, which can also help with safety, because you spread out the time when people can vote, and of course ensuring that there are meaningful in-person Election Day voting opportunities for those who may not access vote by mail as easily.
Congressman Sarbanes: (18:21)
So those are critical measures that are part of the HEROES Act, and getting funding behind that and out to the states and local jurisdictions is critical, and that’s why the Speaker pushed in CARES to get funding, and we got $400 million there, and that’s why she’s pushing and our entire caucus is pushing for the $3.6 billion that’s included in the HEROES Act. That is critical.
Congressman Sarbanes: (18:49)
Let me close with this observation, because we know that there are some who want to make this issue of voting by mail into a partisan issue. There’s nothing partisan about this. This is only patriotic. This is about making it possible for people to vote in America. The number one priority, this is the way you express your voice in our democracy, is to cast your ballot. And secretaries of state of both parties, Republicans and Democrats across the country, are clamoring for this support and this funding, because they want to do their job. Here’s the good news: At the local level, these election officials are professionals that want to deliver a safe, free and fair election. They’re proud of what they do. If we get them the resources, we’re going to have an election in November that we can be proud of, but we’ve got to get it done. That’s what the HEROES Act stands for. And again, Madam Speaker, thank you for your leadership on this issue.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:55)
Thank you. Thank you very much, Congressman Sarbanes, for your tremendous leadership. Long before coronavirus, you were advocating for H.R. 1, which we did pass, as you said, March of last year. How even more important it is now. One of the committees of jurisdiction for the HEROES Act is the Oversight Committee, Oversight and Reform Committee. I mentioned Carolyn Maloney earlier, who chairs that committee. It was formerly chaired by our darling Elijah, who’s dancing with the angels now, and we want to be worthy of the legacy that he left us. But all three of these members are members of the Oversight Committee, and so much of what is in the HEROES Act that relates to the subject we’re talking about here is from that committee, not only in terms of voting, but in terms of the Postal System.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:48)
The Postal System is under threat also by the administration, from the administration, and we want to remove all doubt that we support the Postal System, which is essential to vote by mail. It’s also essential to the health of the American people, because over a billion packages of medicine were delivered to families last year, well before coronavirus. Much more than a billion, and 90% of the medicines that are needed for veterans, veterans receive by the mail. So the postal issue is a health issue. The voting issue is a health issue. They are connected, and a person who serves on that committee is with us, another generation of service in the Congress, Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett.
Nancy Pelosi: (21:37)
She serves with Congresswoman Holmes Norton on the Transportation Committee, so essential to CARES 1. She serves with the Congresswoman and our distinguished Peter Defazio on that committee, on the Gov Reform Committee. It used to be called that. Now it’s called Oversight. When I served on it, it was called Gov Ops. Now it’s Oversight and Reform. And then she also serves on the Agriculture Committee. Very, very essential in the fight all the time, but the fact that there’s hunger in America, the Ag Committee was very instrumental in putting the funds in for SNAP, for not only food stamps, but all kinds of other emergency food initiatives, as well as just removing all doubt that as bad as it has been in terms of hunger in America, food insecurity is not going to take us down during this coronavirus cycle.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:40)
So I’m pleased to yield to another generation of members. Congresswoman Plaskett, will you share a few words with us? And thank you for being here.
Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett: (22:46)
Thank you. Thank you, Madam Speaker, and congratulations, and it’s an honor to recognize my colleague, Eleanor Holmes Norton, someone who as a student at Georgetown, we looked up to, and at American University when I was in law school and she was actively teaching at Georgetown Law. I want to thank Mr. Sarbanes for authoring H.R. 1, and wanted to also point out a component. The Democrats were so in tune to the issues, not just in the mainland, but also in the territories, that there’s language in H.R. 1 that says that a commission should be formed to look at self-determination and the ability to vote for those four million people who are living in our territories, Puerto Rico, Guam, my home, the Virgin Islands, Northern Marianas, and of course, American Samoa. And we’re really grateful that you have given attention to the fact that we have veterans, people who have been willing to take the call to America to serve in our armed forces, but cannot vote for the Commander in Chief while they are living in the territories.
Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett: (23:52)
That’s something that we’re grateful that you all have decided in H.R. 1, to look at, and also, Madam Speaker, for appointing in the House administration a committee, a Voting Rights Committee that went and took testimony from so many people around this country to look at voter suppression, to answer the questions in the case, the Supreme Court Case of Shelby. So I want to thank the Speaker for her tremendous work and all of the Democrats and continually remembering those least Americans and those of us who feel suppressed in our ability to express our support of this democracy by the right to vote. And we’re hopeful that on the Oversight Committee, we’re going to do what’s necessary to ensure that our US Postal Service, which has been with us forever, does not falter in not just getting those care food, as well as so many goods that are being done to those who are homebound right now, but also when we vote in this important election. So thank you so much for that, Madam Speaker.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:53)
Thank you, Congresswoman Plaskett, for your service, your leadership, and your words today. When we talk about the Postal Service, though, I just want to add one thing, and that is that the Postal Service Board of Governors, bipartisan, all appointed by President Trump, have recommended what we have in the bill, in the HEROES Act for the Postal Service. The appropriation, taking off restrictions on how they use loans. Actually, they propose more. We’re going to save some for the infrastructure bill that comes next, because it relates to that. So again, these are connected. This week, I’ve had three focuses so far. That was, we started with the Postal Service the other day, yesterday we focused on food insecurity in America, today we’re focusing on the vote.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:50)
Let me just indulge for a moment, my own personal history for a moment. My father was elected to Congress as a New Deal Democrat many decades ago. When he was in the Congress, he was Chair of the District of Columbia Subcommittee of Appropriation. As such, he was deemed the unofficial Mayor of Washington. They had no mayor, but everything that happened happened through the Appropriations Community for the funding. So I come from a tradition in the DNA of home rule, home rule, home rule, and then of course it would blossom even further later. So it’s a thrill for me to be here with Eleanor and all of my colleagues, and having John Sarbanes mention the joined Congressman, mentioning the statehood for the District of Columbia. So thank you for your leadership there.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:43)
When my father left the Congress, oh, when he was there, speaking of women, he had on his subcommittee, invited the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, to testify about the conditions in the welfare institutions in Washington, and particularly St. Elizabeth’s. So in my office, you will see a picture of him introducing, welcoming Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman leader, and the first First Lady ever to testify before Congress. So we have that connection before we were ever born, I guess, but nonetheless, that’s what I had.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:20)
Then when my father left Congress a generation later, he became Mayor of Baltimore. But when he left to become mayor, a generation later, Paul Sarbanes took his place in the Congress of the United States, later to become Senator Sarbanes. And when he did, Barbara Mikulski took his place, another great woman leader in our country, and after that, Ben Cardin, both going on to the Senate. After that, John Sarbanes. So John Sarbanes represents the district that my father represented, and it’s an emotional tie, as you can see.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:59)
So again, we talk about history, but what we love is the fresh recruit, the fresh, invigorating-
Nancy Pelosi: (28:03)
What about history, but what we love is the fresh recruit, the fresh invigoration of the Congress that John is and that Stacey is, and how they are inspiring a whole other generation of leaders to protect the vote, to protect the lives and the livelihood of the American people, and was acknowledged… Thank you, Stacy, Representative Plaskett, for acknowledging the House Admin Committee I wanted to acknowledge. So Lofgren, the chair of that committee, who did have those hearings led by Marcia Fudge around the country. And then we did pass Terri Sewell’s voting rights act. We hope the Senate will do so, as well. With that, pleased to answer any questions you may have about how we go forward. Garrett? Garrett?
I’ve been called worse. Question on the Heroes Act, and there’s a small number of Republican senators who’ve suggested they should stay through their recess next week to pass something on relief bill, not necessarily the Heroes Act. Mitch McConnell has not deigned to go forward on that. I’m wondering what do you ascribe his unwillingness to put any other relief measures on the floor right now? Do you think he’s just trying to stay close to the President? What’s your thinking on that?
Nancy Pelosi: (29:13)
Excuse me. If I just may, I’m happy to come back to that question. Does anyone have any questions about 101 years since the House or anything that we talked about, about voting rights and the danger that they’re in from the President, or hopefully they won’t be when he sees the response? Anything? Yes.
Speaker 2: (29:32)
A couple of questions related to voting.
Nancy Pelosi: (29:33)
Speaker 2: (29:34)
One, as you know, the President has railed against voting by mail. I wonder if you would respond to what Democrats are thinking along those lines, given the flack that came yesterday. And then also in Maryland, as you know, that there’s been an issue with problems with ballots actually getting out. I think the last time, the vendor was supposed to send out about 150,000. This time they have to send out four million. Clearly, there’s been a delay. I’m wondering what your concerns are there. Maybe Congressman Sarbanes could also address, this related to getting a number of ballots out to people through the mail and some of the complications that that raises up, because a lot of these states are scrambling a little bit now since, they didn’t use mail as much as they did in the past.
Congressman Sarbanes: (30:22)
Well, on your first question, with respect to the President, I know he does rail against vote by mail. There’s no basis for that. In fact, there’s no evidence, there’s no data that suggests that voting by mail helps one party versus another. Voting by mail is just an opportunity to make it easier for folks out there. And in this moment, to make it safer for people. And if you look at what the public’s appetite is, they want that option. So I’m not sure why the President would want to get sideways with the broad public, in terms of that priority.
Congressman Sarbanes: (30:56)
Maryland is experiencing what States all across the country are experiencing, which is the challenge of ramping up quickly in this environment to make sure that you deliver the opportunity for the franchise to the public. And so we are paying attention to some of the issues that have come up.
Congressman Sarbanes: (31:17)
I think the state board is doing its best to meet those challenges. Some states that have been doing mail for a long time, Colorado and Oregon and Washington so forth, they actually own a lot of the machinery and infrastructure of delivering the vote by mail ballot. Other states are having to get that through vendors in the short term, and that’s going to present challenges. But all of this supports why we’re trying to get significant funding out to the states in this moment and get it to them sooner rather than later, because they’ve got to build up that infrastructure to deliver and meet the expectation that the public has. So we’re very much looking at Maryland’s experience, and for that matter, the experience in other states with special elections and primary elections, as an opportunity for lessons learned, heading into the general election season. But all of it supports the funding that Zoe Lofgren and Marcia Fudge and Nancy Pelosi have worked so hard to get, not just into the Cares Act, but now into the Heroes Act. So, we’ve got to get those funds out there.
Nancy Pelosi: (32:37)
When the President criticized Michigan for sending out applications, of course he misrepresented what was going on there, but what’s new. But at the same time, Republican Secretaries of State around the country were engaging in a vote by mail, vote at home, however you want to call it. So this is, again, for the people. It’s not to be afraid of the people. And that’s just another insecurity that exists there. The that’s why this money is needed. You’ve asked exactly the question. And I think every… Yesterday, it was all but one. I think now, maybe every one of the states have asked for the money that was in the first… have applied for the money that was in the first bill. And of course, the sooner we get it and the more we have, the clearer it will be. Because we’re giving people an option that we want to be able to deliver on. But if they don’t support the resources, then they have been stood in the way of voting, which is in keeping with their voter suppression, in general. Any other questions on voting or women having the right to vote? Garrett? Yes, sir.
Speaker 3: (33:51)
Proxy voting, but I’ll wait for Garrett.
Nancy Pelosi: (33:53)
Okay. We’ll go to Garrett.
Just to what do you ascribe the Majority Leader’s unwillingness to move forward with any additional relief package, despite the desire of some in his conference to do so?
Nancy Pelosi: (34:03)
I think he will. I think he will. I think that he wants to put some things on the table. But right now, right now he has decided to obstruct. To obstruct us to get the support we need to give to our healthcare workers who need PPE. He’s obstructing the will of the people to open our economy by having testing, tracing, treatment and isolation where necessary. He’s obstructing our ability to give states and localities, territories and tribal entities, the resources they need to stay open. These people are risking their lives to save lives. And now they may lose their jobs because of the money they have to spend to on the coronavirus, but also the opportunity lost, the revenue lost because of the virus.
Nancy Pelosi: (34:59)
So, we have broad support across the country, Democratic and Republican leaders of towns and the rest, in the way the bill is. Go to speaker.gov/heroesact and find out how your community, your state, your city, your town, your county, benefits from this legislation. And you’ll see why there’s such broad support. You may not know it yet, but they will come to the table. And they will do so because it is absolutely essential. Our bill is focused, disciplined, and what is necessary to defeat this virus, but also to honor our heroes so that they can keep the jobs that are helping save lives in our country, while we put money in the pockets of those who are losing their jobs through no fault of their own. Also to, again, support voting rights and doing voting at home, as well as supporting the postal service in order to do that. Also to feed the American people, that moms are saying children under 12 at the highest rate of food insecurity ever.
Nancy Pelosi: (36:12)
And it’s always been a problem in our country, now even exacerbated by the coronavirus. So it’s about feeding people, feeding… aren’t they ashamed to say, I don’t want… As they have in the past few bills, I don’t want to spend money to feed people in America? Our children who are losing their meals because they’re not going to school, and sometimes that’s the only place that they get a meal, our seniors who depend on Meals on Wheels and other entities for food. So I don’t know. You’d have to ask him why he doesn’t want to feed the American people, that he doesn’t want to put money in the pockets of American people, why he doesn’t want to honor our heroes in this fight against the virus, and why he does not want to defeat COVID-19, enemy of the American people. With that… Oh yes, sir.
Speaker 3: (37:08)
Speaker Pelosi, I was wondering how confident you were that proxy voting would work in the House next week. And then also how many members do you expect to take advantage of the process?
Nancy Pelosi: (37:17)
That I don’t know, but it has been very well planned, thought out, and the rest. I salute Steny Hoyer, our distinguished leader, as well as Zoe Lofgren and Jim McGovern, the chair of the Rules Committee and the chair of House Administration for the work they did, negotiating with the Republicans, trying to find a common ground with them, taking some of their suggestions, but they just don’t support proxy voting. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to be doing the work that the American people sent us here to do. And if some people should stay home because of a health issue, thank you for not sharing. We’d rather you do stay home. And if the transportation is a challenge in that regard, we want their voices to be heard. So the planning that has gone into it has been very smart. Yesterday, I sent out the letter in response to the declaration by the House, the Capitol physician, that says that we will start the clock ticking on this… It’s 45 day clock… Ticking on this when we come back next week. Yes, sir.
Speaker 4: (38:26)
Good morning. It is a bit weird to see the Capitol Building so empty with so few-
Nancy Pelosi: (38:31)
Excuse me, just one second. My colleagues, you’re welcome to stay for the other stuff here, but I know you’re all very, very busy. But I’m honored that you’re here, but I don’t know where we’re going with some of this, though. Sometimes I’ve been known to be a place where you may not want to be. Thank you, John Sarbanes. Thank you, Stacy Plaskett. Thank you, Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Speaker 4: (38:55)
I hope it’s not my French accent that make them leave. It is a bit weird to see the Capitol Building so empty, with so few people. When do you expect back to normal in that building? And how important is it for you that the House keeps on working for American people?
Nancy Pelosi: (39:13)
Well, we will be back full force, when we are able to, because of testing, tracing, and treatment. We are very concerned about the health and wellbeing, not only of the members of Congress, that’s the smallest number involved, but of the press, of the staff, of the custodians, of people… Thousands of people manage this Capitol, so that it is ready for visitors to come witness democracy in action. So I couldn’t possibly answer that question. No sooner than we are ready, but we are constantly preparing for that time. But science will be the answer. When science says to us, we’ve tested enough people to have enough of a measure of how challenging this is, and therefore able to treat, to trace and treat those who need to be treated, then we’ll be closer to that time. I certainly hope it will be soon. What was the second part?
Speaker 4: (40:18)
And how is it important for the House to keep on working [crosstalk 00:40:18].
Nancy Pelosi: (40:18)
Oh yes. Yes, of course. We’re the House of Representatives, the people’s House, and we have been working. There’s a great deal of communication, in terms of our duties as representatives, to be in contact with the people we represent, so that we can truly speak for them. But in addition to that, committees have varying degrees of hearings, whether they call them forums or round tables or whatever it is, communicating. And we hope that… We need, we have some timetables that we must honor for the Appropriations Bill. We have a timetable for the Defense Authorization Bill. We’re just so ready to go forward with infrastructure, to build America in a green way, as we go forward, and create good paying jobs as we again grow our economy in a very wise way. So again, we have a full agenda that people have been working on for a long time. So it’s a continuation of that, but also an intensification.
Nancy Pelosi: (41:20)
So with the proposal that has gone out, it’s not just about proxy voting, which we will be prepared for. It’s also about how committees can do their work virtually in-person or in a hybrid way. Because some of the witnesses were not maybe able to show up, even if the members are there. So it may have to be a hybrid. And that is what we have been working on. I’m very proud of the enthusiasm of everybody to come back. But again, I can just tell you what… In terms of my own travel on commercial airlines, it is a challenge. And so we had to-
Nancy Pelosi: (42:03)
It is a challenge, and so we have to recognize that. But I’m very proud of the courage of our members, and the courage to vote for the HEROES Act. They said to me, “You go big. You go big.” We went big, but not any bigger than is necessary. In fact, we could do more, and we probably will have to, depending on what comes next in our economy and in meeting our health needs. But again, this is about, again, honoring those who are risking their lives to save lives by supporting state and local, territorial and tribal, as well as testing.
Nancy Pelosi: (42:40)
Did you see the Columbia report that came out that if one week sooner, one week sooner, we had had a lockdown, as other countries had, Korea was too … Korea and the United States had the first fatality, had the first, I don’t know if it’s the first case or the first death, but the first death the same day. They locked down. They’ve lost over 300 people in Korea, around.
Speaker 5: (43:10)
I don’t know.
Nancy Pelosi: (43:11)
Just over 300 people. We waited a couple of weeks. The report further says if we had done it when Korea did, we’d have saved closer to well over 50,000 of those lives. But just one week was well into the 30,000s of people who would not have died.
Nancy Pelosi: (43:32)
So we just really have to be smart and strategic, and that is what our bill does. When we say testing, tracing, treatment, isolation, it’s smart. It’s strategic. It has a vision. It has a goal. It has a timetable. It has milestones. It has thresholds. A plan, a strategic plan to quantify what this is, be able to trace and treat, so that we can defeat this virus isn’t what we have done. But putting aside how we got here, this is about going forward and we want to do so in the most science based way to get the job done.
Speaker 6: (44:17)
Related to going forward, if I could, just one real quick question related to, unless somebody else has one.
Nancy Pelosi: (44:19)
Did you have a question, dear?
Speaker 7: (44:20)
Oh no, sorry.
Nancy Pelosi: (44:21)
Speaker 6: (44:22)
Since this is traditionally a holiday weekend, obviously very different, but given what you just said related to deaths and the fact that the country is continuing to reopen, do you have a message to the public as people get ready to … A lot of people are planning to travel, actually, and they’ve shown studies of people going from state to state. I’m wondering if you just have any concerns about that or what your thoughts are to the public as they get ready to head into a holiday weekend like this.
Nancy Pelosi: (44:53)
Well, I thank you for that question because everybody wants out. With all the love that we have for each other and the rest, we can’t even see each other. I said I can’t wait until I can hug my grandchildren again, but that will have to wait. TI would just say people have to be very careful. They should wear masks. These people don’t wear masks. The mask is not to protect you, the mask is to protect other people. So when you don’t wear the mask, what are you saying? “I don’t care about you, but I hope you’re wearing a mask and care about me.” The masks are very, very important. Spacing, very, very important. So there could be ways for people to engage. I do not recommend any large public events. I think that that’s dangerous still, but there could be a way to have discipline, distance, and masks, hand washing, all of those things. And they’re ways to, again, have a family meal over the Memorial weekend, keeping our distances and not double dipping into the guacamole. That would not be a good idea. By the way, it’s never a good idea.
Speaker 6: (46:14)
No double dipping.
Nancy Pelosi: (46:16)
No double dipping. But especially, maybe we’ll all pick up some very good habits from all of this. But we respect the enthusiasm that people have to get out and get some fresh air and the rest, but they should not do it rationalizing that it doesn’t matter how they do it. It does matter. And that’s why I would hope that the President and the Vice President all would wear a mask. They don’t wear a mask, why not? Other people should, so they should set an example. They have doctors around them all the time to minister to their very sneeze, but everybody else does not have that. And so it’s nothing that has any example to it that is good for stopping the spread of this.
Nancy Pelosi: (47:07)
A lot of people, as you know, many people are dying or older, that they’re predisposed. We are predisposed. But the fact is, and that’s very sad, my great fear is what you bring home to the children. And again, we want to take every precaution. I’ll end by just telling the story that one of my colleagues, Rashida Tlaib, told on the floor when we were passing CARES One. She showed the picture of a beautiful little girl, five years old. She died of coronavirus. She died of coronavirus. Her father is a firefighter, her mother’s a police officer. They weren’t tested. And then, of course, now they’re big advocates for testing. And this little girl, five years old. Can you just imagine if that happened in your home? It’s one thing to lose a parent. Okay, that’s important. It’s terrible. It’s awful. But as one in that category, rather me, of course, than my grandchildren. I’m sure every grandparent would say that. But the responsibility we all have to our family members, people take home whatever experience they had to their children or to their parents, their grandparents, or whatever. And the consequences could be some that are very sad for our country. Chuck Schumer and I wrote to the President this morning, did that go out? We wrote to the President this morning and said that as we observe Memorial Day, we recognize that that is a dedicated day reserved to honor our men and women in uniform who were willing to make the supreme sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice, for our country. And we want to be respectful of that. But over this weekend or whenever it happens that we reach 100, 000 deaths that we want the flags across the country in public buildings to be flown at half staff. That was our request. And I hope the President will honor it. One death we carry in our hearts. 100,000 deaths, our hearts have to be full of love to always remember them. It’s a scar on our nation. But again, forgetting how we got here, let’s make sure we can minimize what happens in the future. But at the same time, I think the American people, I hear from my own constituents and from my colleagues, have a much needed expression of grief and recognition for the loss that is to our country.
Nancy Pelosi: (49:49)
Keep talking about John Donne, For Whom the Bell Tolls. “Every man’s death diminishes me because I am mankind.” He said man. Every person’s death diminishes me because I’m man. “For whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” This is a tremendous loss for our country. So let’s fight it. Testing, tracing, treatment, isolation. With a plan, strategic, definite, going into underserved communities, which are fearful to come forward because of the cost that might be incurred. But to remove all doubt that is in our nation’s history that everyone have access to that testing.
Nancy Pelosi: (50:29)
So happy 101 years since the House of Representatives voted for women to have the right to vote. California soon followed, we voted a year in advance of the country. I have to say proudly now that my colleagues are not here. Not to, I don’t know, but I know California.
Speaker 6: (50:48)
I’m from California.
Nancy Pelosi: (50:49)
So you’re okay. We celebrated it within the past year, in the 2019, again, 100 years before we passed it in California. And what’s sad is that one of the reasons I want to do this today is that so many of the events that we have planned in August, and hopefully we can still engage in them, celebrating women having the right to vote. When it happened, they said, the headlines, “Women given the right to vote.” No such thing, women fought and marched and starved and more starved and everything to get the right to vote. We owe them so much, not just the women owe them so much. America owes the suffragettes so much. And we thank the House of Representatives for taking the lead in the Congress on that. Thank you all very much. Wash your hands.