May 7, 2020
Nancy Pelosi News Conference Transcript May 7
Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on Thursday, May 7. Pelosi said it’s “essential” for illegal immigrants to get health benefits. She & Chuck Schumer are set to set to unveil a “Rooseveltian” relief package soon. Read her full speech transcript here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
It seems different to come into this room without all of our members and guests. But here we are today. Last night I had my town … Another tele-town hall meeting as our colleagues are all doing at home, listening electronically, of course, to their constituents and again bringing us the intelligence of how things are on the ground across the country. And of course it is a dire situation. So our hearts are broken for those who have lost their loved ones. So very, very sad, and so many who are diagnosed and have that uncertainty. The key to our opening up our country, our economy is really science, evidence, data, which can only be obtained by testing, testing, testing. So as we go forward here, again listening to scientists, listening to public health officials and the rest from around the country as well as to the intelligence of from their areas that our colleagues bring, we prepare for CARES two.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:20)
CARES two will honor our heroes, those who have … On a day to day basis, our healthcare providers are our first responders, police, fire, emergency services, people transit, food providers, the teachers, teachers, teachers. We honor them, and that takes the form of state and local funding. In the previous bill we had … In cares, we’ve kind of followed the cares model, $150 billion for state and local. We’ll have to do very much more than that, and Democrats and Republicans around the country, governors, mayors, county officials, et cetera, have been calling out for this funding. So if we’re going from just doing state and local as one chunk to state, local, county, et cetera, it nearly doubles what we really need to do in this bill, which is much bigger than what was in the original CARES bill. That’s a discussion that we’re having.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:24)
Next, next we talked about saving the lives and the livelihood of the American people and of course the life of our democracy. So in terms of saving lives, the only way we’re going to rid ourselves of this as well as open up our economy is evidence, science-based testing, testing, testing, testing. Just think of the Ts, testing, tracing, treatment and isolation then when necessary, of course with social distancing. But in terms of a legislation of what we can legislate and fund, testing will be a very major part of this. We need a national strategy to do so. I think it’s long overdue. Our first bill, March 4th, was testing, testing, testing, but it really didn’t produce, it didn’t come through in terms of policy. Our last … Most recent, not last but most recent bill, the interim bill signed it a week or so ago by the president is about $25 billion for testing. That’s not enough, but it’s what we could get and we need to do much more.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:41)
Whether we’re talking about testing, tracing, treatment, et cetera. We have to do it in the most ethical way that everybody, when we hear the disproportionate number of people dying and people among people of color, well, we want to get to them sooner to test, to trace so we can save lives, and recognize that there is a path that is better than the one we’re on in this regard. So that will be a major part of this and with the testing and the tracing and the treatment that we will have to have a core of people to be going out there, culturally appropriate, linguistically appropriate and the rest of that into communities to trace. More on that perhaps in a moment.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:33)
Then the third part, honor our heroes, state and local, open up government, testing, testing, testing, science. That’s the key to opening up government, and third, putting money in the pockets of the American people. And again the heartache that is out there. One mom reported, what did she report? The moms reported that one in four children. I mean, this has been something is my motivation for being in politics. Research from Brookings reported that one in five mothers say their children are not getting enough food, three times the rate during the great depression. So in addition to putting money in people’s pockets, direct payments, unemployment insurance, some other tax credits, et cetera, we really also need to put food on the table. We had SNAP in the first bill and the next rebuilds that wouldn’t accept SNAP. We have to have snap. When I was hungry, you fed me. I mean, why is that a mystery? The American people know it. The food banks are overwhelmed and we have to have a significant increase in SNAP in there.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:57)
So again, we’re trying to do this as much as possible in a bipartisan way. Republican and democratic governors and mayors across the country support what we’re doing with the state and local, honoring our heroes. These people risk their lives to save other people’s lives and they may now lose their jobs. It’s just not right. We will probably have some kind of … Well, I won’t go into the whole bill here because I have to get the agreement of my caucus, but those are the broad categories that we will be working, and within them, our appropriations piece will address the postal service and things like that.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:36)
So that’s kind of a taste of what our discussions are. But very important for you to know the priorities. In all the bills, we had some element of this, of testing of state and local, of distribution of funds. So this is no departure from where we went before. There’s so many other things going on in all of this and that is, as you have seen, imagine in this time as the coronavirus and all the apprehension that comes with it in terms of access to healthcare that the president has said that he’s all out to make the case in court.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:17)
Now mind you, the affordable care act is the law of the land. The executive branch’s role is to protect and defend the law of the land, except they are going against the law of the land. Okay? But let people know what that means in their lives. When there was a chance that they could only do pieces of the repeal of the affordable care act, their top priority was to make sure that repeal of the preexisting condition benefit. Preexisting condition benefit means everything. You’ve seen the little lobbyist here, right on this rug. Little lobbyist born with some challenge or other, preexisting condition for life. Anyone. Being a woman was considered a preexisting condition. No more. But the list of benefits that are in there.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:14)
But I just want to focus on the fact that when they thought they had just a few, it was [inaudible 00:08:20], and they would go after a few provisions. Their focus was on ending the benefit of a preexisting condition not being a barrier to access to healthcare. So we had the briefings where we had a press conference, maybe some of you were on the call with Javier Bissera. I salute him for taking the lead against this Texas initiative, and now Trump initiative to end the access for 20 million people, as well as 125 or 50 million families whose benefits were greatly increased, essential benefits.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:02)
… The increased essential benefits, but the President says no. So, that is a bigger fight on healthcare. You would think at the time of the coronavirus, there’d be some sensitivity, some empathy for people who have uncertainty about their own healthcare and their predisposition to something like this and their ability at this time of economic uncertainty to be able to afford healthcare. Or there’s so many other things. But with that, I will yield to you for questions. Let me, Jennifer, and I see we have a new system here. This is new to me because I only heard about it last night. I don’t know where it came from, but I’ll find out. Jennifer Haberkorn of Los Angeles Times. Hi Jennifer. There you are. Here we are. Okay.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:52)
So whoever invented this, that sound is not working. I’ve learned to be very good at reading lips on the floor of the House. But I don’t know if everybody else can. So we’ll wait for the sound. In the meantime, I’m sure you’ve seen that once again, the Trump Administration is dismantling Title IX protections for students and survivors. I say once again doing something to undermine protections that are there. That was yesterday, we studied that. There is also, are we ready?
Speaker 3: (10:46)
Nancy Pelosi: (10:46)
Okay, where did the people from the gallery?
Speaker 3: (10:48)
[inaudible 00:10:48] in the room.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:50)
Some in the room. Okay. Someone in the room?
Speaker 4: (10:50)
Nancy Pelosi: (10:50)
Yes sir, okay.
Speaker 4: (10:50)
You’ve outlined some of your priorities of what you’d like to see in CARES Two. Is that something you’re actively negotiating with the Administration-
Nancy Pelosi: (10:59)
Speaker 4: (10:59)
… right now?
Nancy Pelosi: (11:01)
No, it’s a reflection of the needs of the American people and it is consistent with the precedent in the other bills. There’s not a new thing there and what I named.
Speaker 4: (11:10)
Do you intend to pass something with just those priorities before negotiating with the [crosstalk 00:11:14].
Nancy Pelosi: (11:15)
We’ll see. I’m not going to negotiate it here. I would hope that they would see the need. As I say, everything that I just mentioned has bipartisan support in the country. I hope it does in the Congress. But we have to start someplace and rather than starting in a way that does not meet the needs of the American people, want to set a standard. And again, we need a presidential signature, so at some point we’ll have to come to agreement, but we want the people to know that they’re heartbroken, of course about loss of life and loss of health, but also their economic security as well as their health security, that we’re setting a that helps meet their needs and get them through this. This is about them. It’s about our heroes. It’s about testing. It’s about the American people.
Speaker 5: (12:12)
Speaker Pelosi, there are about 23 states right now that are partially re-opening. And today the White House said they would not be implementing CDC guidelines about reopening. [inaudible 00:12:23] approach to allow the states to do this, [inaudible 00:12:27] basis [inaudible 00:12:29] standard for reopening the economy?
Nancy Pelosi: (12:33)
Well, let me just say that I think everything should be based on science and not the state or local, whatever it is. And if you’re going to have a standard, you really have to have a federal standard because as we know, viruses know no borders nationally, but they certainly don’t know any state borders. I think that the way this has been handled is most unfortunate because first of all they had guidelines which were weak but nonetheless guidelines. And then the President said you don’t even have to honor them. And then we find out now that there was a CDC report that had much more comprehensive guidelines and they buried it in the White House. So again, what is our goal? Our goal is a healthy America, healthy economy. The root to that is to have standards, testing and again, not bury what the CDC is recommending. Then who is making this decision? Does he pay attention to the scientists? I don’t know.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:36)
The point is that we want to open up, but not in a way of that causes more deaths. And again, I think it’s wrong for us not to know. If states want to open up, we’re starting in California, a certain limited with the standards and the rest, that is a decision that they make. But there should be a federal standard because if you live in California, you’d be in Nevada and step over the line. Same thing, New York, you name it, New Jersey, Connecticut and the rest.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:09)
So no, I do think there should be federal standards and I think that they should set an example instead of people with swastikas on, going to the legislature of Michigan and in direct contact with each other. And I feel sad for them, these demonstrators, because they could take something home to their children, which is would be irresponsible. On the other hand, for the President to sort of praise that just tells you what the challenge is.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:39)
But what we’re talking about is let’s go forward. This is what we need. We need the testing, we need to honor our heroes, and we need the money into the pockets of the American people. Okay. How are we doing? Is this thing working now, Jennifer?
Jennifer Haberkorn: (14:57)
Hi Speaker, can you hear me?
Nancy Pelosi: (15:00)
Speaker 3: (15:00)
Nancy Pelosi: (15:08)
Hi, Jennifer. Oh yes. Yes, we’re ready for you.
Jennifer Haberkorn: (15:09)
Speaker, can you hear me?
Nancy Pelosi: (15:10)
Jennifer Haberkorn: (15:12)
Thank you. I’m curious on CARES Two, if you could tell us why you didn’t start with negotiations with White House or Chairman Mnuchin or Republicans before the House moves forward with the bill as you did in prior coronavirus bills?
Nancy Pelosi: (15:30)
[crosstalk 00:15:30] I tell you what we had in all of the negotiations that we have had a list of things that we wanted to see. Expansion of family medical leave, a high standard for OSHA protections in the legislation so that when companies would open, there’s a high standard, particular to the coronavirus, that they would have to meet in the rest. So part of this is things that they never agreed to before and kept saying, “In the next bill and the next bill the next bill.” So these are part of those negotiations, in the next bill, we’re doing these things and the others that we have, as I say, build on what has been in the other bills. Okay, who’s next. Philip Elliott-
Philip Elliott: (16:18)
Thanks, Speaker Pelosi-
Nancy Pelosi: (16:19)
… Time Magazine.
Philip Elliott: (16:19)
… for doing this and apologies for the tech issues here. So last night we learned the President Trump’s going to name a donor to head up the postal service. What does this tell you about what might be possible in terms of getting the nation’s post offices back on solid ground?
Nancy Pelosi: (16:36)
Well, I thank you for your question about the postal service. My understanding is that the postmaster general is appointed by the board. The board is appointed by the president, so without going into that, I would just rather say that the postal service is very popular in our country. People say, now 70% higher, say that there should be funding for the postal service. Better than that, favorable, unfavorable, they’re in the nineties. This is a connection throughout America. This is how seniors even before now would get there, I’m looking at, would get their medicines and the rest.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:19)
But in this time where so much is being done remotely and the rest and so much depends on it being materialized by the postal service in terms of delivery and the rest, it seems a really a terrible time to under jump. But their goal has always been to privatize, to make a profit off the postal service for private purposes. We’re for the public, having the postal service meet the public interest, not some special interests. So, that’s the fundamental difference that we have. So we have to fight for the post office and people across the country are all tweeting and writing to me and stuff like that saying, “We really, protect our post office.”
Nancy Pelosi: (18:03)
… came to me and stuff like that saying, “Protect our post office.” Everybody knows … everybody doesn’t know. Many people know their letter carrier, they know their postal workers and the rest. These are true patriots who are doing a great job in ordinary times, and in this extraordinary time, pretty exceptional. And of course, we’re going to have funding in here for elections, vote by mail, and of course all the more reason that we want to have a vibrant post office, but that’s not the main purpose, but it is again, more.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:35)
There’s some people who are having, I think it’s Swing Left, 10 million letters that they want to have people send that they’re going to vote on election day, 10 million letters, and it’s a send out. It’s a big initiative, and for these and other reasons, so that people can express themselves other than electronically because some communities just don’t have that opportunity for them. We’re going to be fighting for the postal service. Let me see. Nancy Curtis? Nancy, are you here?
Nancy Curtis: (19:13)
Hi, Speaker Pelosi, thank you so much. The national debt hit $25 trillion this week. And I know there’s a lot of blame to go around for how much it’s increased over the past decade or so. But regardless, how much does the increase in the debt weigh on you as you try to decide how much money should go to state and local governments or whether you should put more funding into PPP? How do you weigh those decisions?
Nancy Pelosi: (19:43)
Well, I’m a pay-as-you-go person, much to the dismay of some in my party, but I think that as a matter of course when we’re doing what we’re doing, we should find a way to offset additional spending or get revenue to pay for it because the debt is an important challenge. Years ago, George Miller, when he was a member of Congress, but this was, well ’82, when we were at the midterm convention in Philadelphia, he proposed pay as you go.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:11)
It passed the convention. It became the law when Bill Clinton was president. His administration, four or five of his budgets were in balance or in surplus, and then when President Bush came in, that was erased, because they eliminated pay-as-you-go. And then when President Obama came in, again, the deficit went from 1.4 trillion to 500 billion in the course of his presidency, reflecting fiscal concern that we all had because this is the debt for our family.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:48)
But what we’re talking about now is about a stimulus to our economy at a time where people are crippled with concern about their physical well being as well as their economic well being. So when we talk about food stamps and we talk about direct payments and we talk about unemployment insurance, they stimulate the economy. Their purpose is to meet the needs of people, but they are a stimulus to the economy and far better to spend our money that way.
Nancy Pelosi: (21:18)
When the Republicans, who were supposed to be these budget hawks, had no hesitation whatsoever in the dark of night and the speed of light passed a bill that takes us almost $2 trillion in debt in order to give 83% of the benefits to the top 1%. So when we look at the needs that our people have, not the top 1%, bless them all, we don’t begrudge anyone their success or their achievement, but there is no upside for our economy unless there’s consumer confidence, unless people understand that the well being of working people in our family is what keeps our economy strong.
Nancy Pelosi: (21:57)
So, yes I’m concerned about the national debt, but I think it would be penny foolish to say, “I’m sorry, we can’t do SNAP to give you food because there’s a national debt. We just did $2 trillion for the wealthiest people in our country, but we can’t feed one in four children in our country because of the national debt.” So I think that the chairman of the fed, Chairman Powell, has said it again and again publicly, he said it to me, “Think big. Think big. The interest rates are very, very low. Think big.” And that’s what we’re doing. Who else I need? I think we’ve done our people on the thing. Let’s see. Yes, ma’am?
Speaker 6: (22:42)
Speaker, I want to ask you, from a testing perspective, what is going to be necessary to reopen the House?
Nancy Pelosi: (22:51)
From a testing perspective? I don’t think it’s related to that. I don’t think it’s related to that. We’re going to open the House when the serjeant-at-arms and the Capitol physician say that we can come. Now, we have two examples that worked, one for a voice vote and one for a recorded vote, a couple of recorded votes, and we have a good model to go on.
Nancy Pelosi: (23:12)
I’m hoping that when we come back, and I’m hoping that’s next week, we’ll have the proxy voting initiative on the floor so we can vote here, and if people for some reason, for health or whatever, can’t be here, they will be recorded. Yes, ma’am? I’m so sorry dear.
Speaker 7: (23:39)
Speaker, do you expect to have an expansion of the unemployment benefits from …
Nancy Pelosi: (23:40)
I’m so sorry, dear. Do I expect what?
Speaker 7: (23:41)
Do you expect expansion of the unemployment benefits in CARES in this next package?
Nancy Pelosi: (23:45)
Oh, of course, yeah. Yes.
Speaker 7: (23:47)
Could you elaborate on what that would look like?
Nancy Pelosi: (23:49)
No, but again, we’re collecting that data. The fact is is that in this legislation, since you asked it that way, let me enlarge the issue for a moment to say this. We think that there should be stabilizers in these bills, so if the unemployment rate, say now it’s 7%, it triggers 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. But that should be for SNAP, it should be for F MAP, which is the Medicaid funding and the rest, so that you don’t always have to say, “Let’s debate whether that’s necessary.”
Nancy Pelosi: (24:22)
There’s a recognition that one, you have that assault on the economy, and so what did they say today? It might be up to 17%? 16 or 17% unemployment. I would hope that we could see a time in the very near future when that would be drastically reduced, but we would have unemployment. And we’ll examine other ways to help people. And that is, many people have a sovereign fund, have a paycheck guarantee.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:56)
There may be other things that can help people not go on unemployment insurance because their employers will be able to pay them by one provision or another. But no, sad to say I don’t. It breaks my heart to say it because of what it means in people’s lives. But unemployment sure will be extended, yeah. Yes sir, yes sir? Okay.
Speaker 8: (25:21)
Your last question.
Speaker 9: (25:22)
Speaker Pelosi, are you still working with the other side in terms of ways to reopen shops again?
Nancy Pelosi: (25:28)
Speaker 9: (25:28)
You mentioned coming back next week. They put up their guidelines and there wasn’t anything in their recommendations about proxy voting or about virtual [inaudible 00:25:37] or anything like that.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:38)
Well Mr. Hoyer and Jim McGovern and Zoe Lofgren are working with Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Cole, that ranking on rules and Mr. Davis on house administration, and they’re going over all of that. I’ll get their report, but let me remove all doubt. Our members want remote voting by proxy, and people keep saying, “We want government to open up.” Well it can, but if people can’t come because we don’t want them to come if they have a fever or if somebody in their home has a fever, they should be able to be recorded.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:16)
So let’s hope that we can come to some agreement on that. I was all set to bring that to the floor when we were here before and then the Republican leader said, “Let’s talk about it.” So I said, “Well, if there’s a way to do it in a bipartisan way, that would be better.” My members were not happy because they wanted to be able to vote by proxy right away, and they couldn’t until it became the rule change. It would have to be for the next time.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:44)
So now, we’re given that the chance, and hopefully we can do it in a bipartisan way. That’s it, but that committee is still in communication with each other. Mr. Hoyer would be more conversant on some of the particulars. It’s really proxy voting, hearings …
Nancy Pelosi: (27:03)
… proxy voting hearings this way, either in person, electronically or hybrid, something like that. And then the next question is, can you do Mark ups that way? And that’s part of the discussion and a lot of it hinges on what’s happening as far as the Capitol physician and a Sergeant in arms is concerned. We have an emergency of such magnitude that no one has ever seen before. This is probably the worst situation that is only getting worse, which it should be getting better.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:49)
So what we’re saying is you want the economy grow, put money in people’s pockets. You want to be able to open up the economy, testing, testing, testing, tracing, tracing, tracing, treatment, treatment, treatment, isolation, social distancing. But the three T’s, right? Are absolutely essential. That’s what scientists tell us.
Nancy Pelosi: (28:11)
Celebrate our heroes. State and local is the term that is used, but the actual people who benefit are those who are on the healthcare delivery and security issues, transit issues, food issues, teaching, the postal service. All of that is about our heroes. They all in some ways interact in a way that is risking their lives, so that other people can thrive and survive. But they are in danger of losing their jobs.
Nancy Pelosi: (28:48)
And we’ve seen public hospitals being laying off people, teachers being laid off, we can’t have that. Instead, we want to honor them and that is a pretty exciting thing. I think we’re totally unworthy to say that, “Isn’t it great what they’re doing?” Blue angels flying over and all that and that’s a beautiful thing. But those of us with a responsibility for this have no right to praise them, and then ignore their needs because that’s just cancels itself out.
Nancy Pelosi: (29:24)
Let’s meet their needs with PPE. As you saw yesterday, the nurse has said, “We don’t have enough PPE” and the president said, “Yes, you do.” Well, let’s get the facts and grow from the facts, the science, the evidence, the data, and go for that to where we need to go. Let me just say about my members. I’m so proud of them. They’re so concerned, so empathetic to the needs of their own constituents. So candid in how they see things happening and how they think we have to come to a consensus. And again, we’re very proud that our first four bills were bipartisan and we hope that we could continue that. That’s why what we’re doing is just following what the path was in many cases as to what was in the other bills. We’re not drawing any red lines in the sand or anything like that. I hope they won’t.
Nancy Pelosi: (30:18)
But our members are just fabulous in terms of their attention to all of this constantly. And our chairs, are chairs of the committees are dazzling. They had been the source of more new ideas, more fresh thinking, more challenges to the conscience of our country as we go forward. I couldn’t be prouder and they’re the ones who were making their suggestions about what’s in this bill. And as I always, I always do reach across the aisle. Don’t take anybody by surprise. Let them know what your committee is thinking.
Nancy Pelosi: (30:55)
We are different. We have different views about the role of government. If you’re anti-governance, which many people are here and you’re anti-science, which many people here are, then you don’t see the need to have scientifically-based decision for the federal government to, to act upon.
Nancy Pelosi: (31:15)
And the fact is, we don’t want any more government than we need, but we have to have the governance of that we do. And hopefully that can be bipartisan, but our first responsibility is to meet the needs of the American people immediately. Thank you all. Stay safe.