Aug 23, 2020
Nancy Pelosi Press Conference Transcript on Postal Service August 22
Nancy Pelosi held an August 22 press conference where she announced that the House approved a bill to send $25 billion to the U.S.Postal Service and halt changes. Read the full transcript here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
Whose district is very affected by it. All of us salute our firefighters and all of them. We just came out of the convention, as you know, and I’m very proud of the values that were presented there. In my remarks I said, “We come together not to decry the darkness, but to light a way forward for our country.” That was my own statement, but I was so pleased that it was so much a part of our president-to-be, our nominee, Joe Biden’s statement.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:36)
And so, today, I come to shine a light forward for our postal system. Most people don’t know, or perhaps you do, how significant the postal system was in the establishment of our country. Since that time, it has been as American as apple pie, motherhood, baseball, you name it. Over 90% of the American people support the postal system. There isn’t any agency of government that can make that claim. It is a service, postal service. So, when people say, “Well, it doesn’t pay its own way.” It’s not a business, it’s a service. And while we always want to subject every federal dollar to the scrutiny of what we’re getting for it, let us remember that it is a service. No business that I can think of would ever be saddled with what we’ve done to the postal service saying that in 2006, a bill passed that said that the postal service should pay 75 years of its health benefits in 10 years. 75 years of its health benefits in 10 years. That is a responsibility that I don’t think most businesses could meet and also come out on top.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:04)
Earlier this year, Mr. DeFazio put forth a bill to limit what that is. So, when they say it doesn’t pay us, well, we had to do these cuts, and those cuts, and those cuts, we’re cutting service. We’re cutting service, not we, but the new postmaster general. We have called our members back for legislation that allocates the resources, $25 billion, that were recommended by the US postal service, the board of governors of the postal service. They are a board that are bipartisan and 100% appointed by President Donald Trump, and they recommended the $25 billion. Actually, they recommended more, which we will have in other bills. That’s part of this legislation.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:57)
It is also necessary for us to this legislation because in my conversations with the postmaster general, which were most unsatisfactory, he said he had no intention of restoring the post office boxes that were removed, no intention of restoring the sorting machinery in the postal services and other infrastructure very essential to keeping the mail on time. And when I suggested that we have the ballots in the election treated as first class mail, he said he had no intention of doing that. But if it was in the bill, then, he would. And yesterday, you see that he’s now saying that he will. But to make sure that that happens because his comments are one thing. His actions will be another.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:48)
That’s why we have this legislation. We’ll be talking about it on the floor. Our distinguished chair, Carolyn Maloney chair of the Committee of Jurisdiction will be making her presentation as soon as the vote is over, shortly, at one o’clock, and will have more to say. But I think it’s very useful to people to take the pride that it does. Letters to Santa, messages from the tooth fairy, families communicating. I know people are doing some things on social media and that’s good, but as a grandmother, I can tell you there’s nothing, no substitute that a drawing or a note from your grandchild through the mail. But more important than that, as important as that is to our culture, our health. 1.2 billion prescriptions sent through the mail in 2019. 80%, 90%, depending on the figures, and we’re trying to verify them, but at least 80% of the prescription sent from the VA to our veterans through the mail.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:55)
So, when the mail slows down, the medication slows down. The health of our veterans are affected, and that’s who we are hearing from. The mail slowing down. And that’s what we have to address today. And again, we’ll go over all of the provisions of the bill about stopping the slowing down of the mail. But this was an intention. Now, the postmaster general is saying, “We’re going to not do any of this until after the election.” Our legislation is not just about the election. It’s about surprise, surprise, Mr. postmaster general, the coronavirus. COVID-19, which has a big impact on the election as well as, first and foremost, on the health of the American people. So, this isn’t just about until after the election, if that can be trusted. It’s about the length, as we say, in the bill, the end of January or the end of coronavirus, which other takes longer. And so, this is why this legislation is necessary too because even in his statements, which are ambiguous, they don’t go far enough.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:14)
I’m excited about the history of it. In the early 1770s, building on the work of Benjamin Franklin, who oversaw the precursor of the postal service from 1753 to 1774, the revolutionaries established underground networks, the committees of correspondence, and then, the constitutional post that enabled them to communicate without the knowledge of the British. It goes on to say the earliest committee was formed in 1764 in Boston. It goes on. Our first postmaster general was Benjamin Franklin. The exchanges that followed what I just described built solidarity during the turbulent times and helped bring about the formation of the first Continental Congress. In any event, when Alexis de Tocqueville spoke in that century, he said… Alexis de Tocqueville would praise the postal service, writing that, “Not in the most enlightened rural districts of France is there an intellectual movement so rapid or on such a scale as in this wilderness. The effectiveness from the start.”
Nancy Pelosi: (07:30)
And so, that, as I say, rooted in American history, part of the communication that established us from going from colonies to a country there for America’s families to communicate businesses to thrive, medicines to be delivered now at this case, a time of an election, at the time of a pandemic, of a safe way for people to vote, it’s very important to shine a bright light on the postal system and to show our appreciation for what is done of nearly 100,000, 97,000, I think the number is. That 97,000 veterans are employed by the postal service. So, this, for us, is as a joyous occasion to come together, to vote for the postal service, and to meet the needs of our people, our constituents. You can ask any member of Congress across the country, Democratic or Republican, if they’re hearing from their constituents on this subject, and they are.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:41)
As we go forward then, just to note that tomorrow will be 100 days, today, 99 days since we passed the HEROES Act. It is very urgent, even more than when we passed it, for us to have the values that… This isn’t a discussion about just dollars. It’s about values and how we value the health and wellbeing of the American people. How we honor and value the work of our heroes, our healthcare workers, our first responders, our teachers, our teachers, our transportation, sanitation, food workers, all many employed by the state and local government. And a big obstacle to our going forward is the attitude of the Republicans. Let the states go bankrupt, and not fully coming to the table to support that. And of course, right now, as a grandmother and a mom of grandchildren in school and children who teach, we really have to make it safe for our children to go to school, and that takes money.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:47)
It takes money for distancing, more teachers, bigger classrooms, or more classrooms, ventilation, and the rest. Out of a hundred biggest school systems, school districts in the country, over 75 of them are either 62, all virtual, another dozen or so, hybrid. A small number, actual. And our fight with the administration has been that they want the bulk of the money to go only if you actually open up, which is a small percentage of the biggest school districts in our country. And who pays mostly for schools, but state and local government? We can’t have the firings that will incur if we don’t fund state and local government to address the funds that they have spent, the [inaudible 00:10:44] they have made on the coronavirus and the loss of revenue. But more important than that, even, is the firing. The firings that will occur could be in the millions. Already, it’s a million and a half. Could be three and a half million more people fired. And what does that do but add to the unemployment ranks? And what does that do but hurt our economy?
Nancy Pelosi: (11:10)
In any event, this, today, is one piece of what we have in the HEROES Act. I’m not for splitting it up, except this is an emergency. And it has policy in it that was not in the HEROES Act. So, I’m very proud of our members for coming back for this. On the course of the day, I’ll be meeting with them, and we’ll be talking about the justifications by what measure, what justification, scientific, institutionally, et cetera, are we saying we need so much more money for education than the administration is ready to give. By what scientific basis are we justifying the funding that we want for testing, tracing, treatment, distancing, et cetera. By what justification are we saying we need over $50 billion for childcare.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:03)
We’re telling people that they have to go to work. They can’t because they have a child who’s not going to school. So, childcare is an answer in some of those cases. So, the list goes on, and we have put the justification for it. I will do so more intensely as we negotiate an agreement that we must have for the American people. Again, I’m sad about the state of California, but anytime a natural disaster hits, it’s so sad. And Iowa is suffering so badly in all of this. I hope that as soon as we can be, the federal government will be there to support what our members of Congress there have been asking for. Any questions? Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 2: (12:57)
Thank you, ma’am. [inaudible 00:12:57] First of all, we see that it looks like the Republicans will not be supporting this bill. I’m wondering if it does not go through, can you tell us, are there any negotiations on the next COVID passage? Is there any other opportunity for this funding that you’re seeking if this stalls? And then, just more broadly, I was wondering if you could tell us, what is the message to voters who may be concerned about the problems with the mail and wondering what they should do? Should they go to the polls? Should they send their ballot in the mail? What’s the advice?
Nancy Pelosi: (13:32)
Well, you have a three-prong question, there.
Speaker 2: (13:36)
Nancy Pelosi: (13:36)
First, let me say, we will pass the bill, and it will be in a bipartisan way today. And then, we will send it to the Senate, and let me just say that, as I’ve always said, public sentiment is everything. They’ll be hearing from their constituents because this hits home. Not receiving your mail on a timely fashion hits home. Not receiving your prescriptions, actually for our veterans, hits home in a way that is harmful to our country as well. Secondly, we’re hoping that the need for us to go forward in terms of we can open our economy if we have our testing. We can open our schools more safely if we have the point of care testing, tracing, treatment, et cetera. Why they will not follow science is beyond me. But nonetheless, we have to make that case, and it’s safer.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:36)
As I said, it was 99 days since we passed our bill. In that time of how many more people, it was 4.2 million more people have become infected. 4.2 million since we passed our bill. 88,000 more people have died, taking us past 175,000 people. You see the statements that are being made, that if we wear mask, if 95%, instead of 55% of people wore masks, the lives that could be saved going forward. Well, why don’t we also learn from what has happened in the past? When they said we’re going to press the pause button, they forgot to tell the virus they were pressing the pause button. It didn’t pause. So, we have to, we must absolutely have an agreement as we go forward that helps state and local government do their job to fight the coronavirus, to educate our children, to do so in a way that is safe, and, again, honors our heroes. Pass something that is sufficient in terms of crushing the virus. Instead, they’re crushing the affordable care act in court and the preexisting condition.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:00)
So, this is not just about dollars and cents. It’s about values and common sense. And then, to the last point in terms of voting is that… Look, don’t pay any attention to what the president is saying because it is all designed to suppress the vote. He’s going to have law enforcement… That’s in their playbook. We’ve seen their playbook. It’s in their playbook that they’ll have people intimidated to vote by having ICE agents or other law enforcement there to instill fear in people as they show up. Why are they here? It’s scary. But ignore that. It’s a suppress-the-vote tactic as is the suppressing of the ability of the postal system to deliver on its responsibility, to treat ballots as first class mail, and to deliver in a timely fashion, and not, and not ignore the need for overtime, not ignore the fact that so many members of postal service have contracted coronavirus. They’ll need for temporary employees to fill that in, and not ignore…
Nancy Pelosi: (17:20)
He said very blatantly, “I have no intention of replacing those mailboxes. I have no intention of replacing the machinery and the sorting machinery.” And that, by the way, is an OSHA issue in terms of sortment and the machinery to help do it. All I would say to the final part of your question is, ignore them, make a plan to vote, do so, to vote early so that we will have an outcome that is clear as close to election night as possible. I say that because the more that vote by mail, there may be some counting after the election, but I hope that our victory will be so big. It’ll be so big that it’ll be so clear. And by the way, from the standpoint of the House, it is my political goal to win so big that we are putting down the down payment of winning for two years from now.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:19)
Now, when you get into voting and voting by mail, once again, Mr. president, you come into my wheelhouse. I was chair of the party for a long time. Northern chair and state party chair in California. Had the experience of recognizing how important time is. It’s about time. It’s about the time it takes to get the mail to the people to vote, to get it to the post office, to make sure it’s there in a timely fashion. It’s about the time it takes to print some of the materials, both the ballots, as well as the persuasion material. So, I’ve been known to be there with my friends and volunteers, sitting there all night next to a printing machine to make sure somebody else didn’t come in ahead of us with their mailer, so that we could be on time for the post office.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:12)
This is exciting for our country. It’s how we communicate. It’s how we vote. It’s how we protect the health and wellbeing of the American people, and what they’re doing both in the postal service until they got caught, and what the president is saying, and now, his move about putting law enforcement, extra law enforcement people at the polls. Why would he do that except to scare people off? Why pay attention to that? Just honor the vision of our founders, that this is a democracy, and everybody’s going to have the chance to vote, and have their vote counted as cast. Another question? Yes, ma’am. I have another subject I want to bring up, so let’s move on.
Speaker 3: (19:59)
Chief the Staff Meadows on the Hill today, and he tweeted out-
Nancy Pelosi: (20:00)
Speaker 3: (20:00)
I’ll take the mask off. Chief of Staff Meadows is on the Hill today.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:05)
Oh, Meadows, okay. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (20:07)
He tweeted out a message to Democrats saying, “If you really want to help Americans, how about tax relief for small businesses and employment, along with postal service, postal funding?” You’ve said that you don’t want to break things down. You said that today is going to be focused on the postal service, but what about the members in your party who think that maybe a vote on a smaller HEROES Act to $2 to $2.4 trillion HEROES bill with a shorter timeframe is perhaps a good idea?
Nancy Pelosi: (20:38)
Well, let me just say, you listed some things that what’s-his-name put forth. He didn’t say anything about schools. He didn’t say anything about crushing the virus. He didn’t say anything about people who are being evicted. He didn’t say anything about food insecurity among millions of America’s children. He didn’t say anything about state and local. That’s completely unacceptable. On the other hand, what my colleagues… My colleagues, I welcome their suggestions, and that we’re all in sync. We said we would come down a trillion dollars. We’re ready to negotiate at that level. And again, we’re making some plans for some things that we want to do next because it’s what, how many days until the election? 73 or something? 73 day. 99 days since the bill, 73 days since the election, and we’re getting ready for this legislative session that comes and the legislative session that begins in January.
Nancy Pelosi: (21:39)
So, we’re in sync in our caucus, and his list is very deficient when it comes to our children, their childcare, their food, their housing, their education, their health, in terms of the virus. And know, just again, state and local does do over 90% of the education. I want to bring up another subject that the president brought up this morning, which is very scary, and everybody should take note of it. The Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, has a responsibility to approve drugs, judging on their safety and their efficacy, not by a declaration from the White House about speed and politicizing the FDA. This was a very dangerous statement on the part of the president. Even for him, it went beyond the pale in terms of how he would jeopardize the health and wellbeing of the American people and accuse FDA of politics when he is the one who has tried to inject himself in the scientific decisions of the Food and Drug Administration. One more question, and I have to go to the floor. Yes, ma’am?
Speaker 4: (22:59)
How does Mr. [LeJoy 00:23:00] compare to Benjamin Franklin? What experience does he bring to the job as postmaster general, madam speaker?
Nancy Pelosi: (23:07)
Well, let me also say Abraham Lincoln was a postmaster. He was as well. I think Harry Truman worked for the postal service. I don’t know exactly what his title was. This postal service has a great identification with leaders in our country. I wouldn’t use the word “compare,” I would use the word “contrast.” Benjamin Franklin understood the value of bringing people together in our country. He did not view it as a business enterprise. He believed in it as a service, postal service. And that is what we have to support. To bring it in and say, “Well, they’re losing money in this or that,” really? Really? Are we losing money on delivering prescription drugs to our veterans? Are we losing money in how we have people communicate with each other and our families, and create jobs, good paying jobs? 97,000 veterans who are employed by the postal service.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:17)
I think the biggest contrast would be, one sees it as a service for the American people. The other sees it as a business enterprise, and doesn’t value its purpose, and doesn’t value its purpose. But hopefully, he will see the light as he sees the legislation. And if the Republicans in the Senate refuse to take it up, they’re just going to have to answer to their own constituents, why they don’t want their mail delivered in a timely fashion. What is it? Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, or dark of night, we’ll keep the courier from his or her, now, appointed arounds. That doesn’t seem to be the purpose of the current of leadership of the postal service. Thank you all. See you on the floor.