Sep 18, 2020
Nancy Pelosi Press Conference Transcript September 18
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on September 18. She discussed climate change and the wildfires in California, coronavirus relief, and China. Transcript of her news briefing here.
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Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
Tissue. Good morning, everyone. There four things I want to talk about, with you this morning. Two of them are related to science. First, I’ll begin with the wildfires in the West. Millions of acres are burning, historically high numbers, and that’s horrible. But worse than that, at least 35 people have died in the wildfires. Many people are missing, so, we don’t know the total number, hopefully, it’s just not so many more. A firefighter lost his life from the fire, just a recent report on another one. In the Western States, the number of acres, millions of acres are 20 times the amount this time, last year. 20 times. The wildfire haze is now, even you saw some of it, reaching Washington, D.C., of course it has covered the country. America can no longer afford to deny the connection between the climate crisis and the wildfires, no longer [inaudible 00:01:15] and contempt of the science, that tells us why these storms are battering the Gulf Coast, are so severe, severest in history and the one that had hit Louisiana.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (01:34)
And now, they have Sally coming back. They told me that they’re running out of names. They may have to go to the Greek alphabet to name the storms. So, this wildfire, the assault on mother nature’s statement, do something about this. And, one of the things we’re going to do this week, we have some legislation on the floor, an energy package. It has many bills in it. I’m very proud of the work of the committees of jurisdiction, the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Science Space and Technology Committee led by Eddie Bernice Johnson; Frank Pallone on the Committee, Energy and Commerce, and other important work that is done.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (02:24)
And, among the pieces of legislation are some bills by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, which establishes research institutes to study the impact on this smoke on public health. There is a direct connection. It also has, as a priority to have the grid upgraded in a way that it can detect these sparks. Because these sparks are what just take off in such a vicious way, as those of you who may have followed the fires, have seen. So again, this is honoring science. I told you last week about my meeting with the G7 heads of parliament. And, it was a great meeting this past weekend. And, what was very interesting to see is that, in all those countries, the G7 plus the EU, there is no difference in opinion, among the parties, about whether the climate crisis exists, and that human behavior has an impact on it. Only the United States is in denial that we are, and the executive branch and the Republicans in Congress. I don’t know how much further evidence that they need or what could cause them to accept the science. The contempt for science, must stop.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (03:54)
And, it must stop when it comes to the coronavirus, that’s the second item, that I wanted to talk to you about, of the highest priority. This weekend, sadly, we will see that 200,000 people have died because of the coronavirus, approaching 7 million people infected. This didn’t have to happen. And yesterday, some of you were there, when Mr. Pallone and Mr. Clyburn, and two of our freshmen, Congresswomen Mucarsel-Powell and Congresswoman Underwood spoke about, our plan that has been out there for months and months. Our plan for testing, tracing, treating. Our plan for sanitation separation, wearing masks, to crush the virus, to crush the virus. Instead, our Republican colleagues want to crush the affordable care act and it’s preexisting condition benefit, which affects probably nearly half the families in our country.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (05:07)
But, we have a plan. It’s based on science. The amounts of resources needed are substantiated by science, by institutions of higher learning, by the academic world, that especially focuses on the epidemiology of a pandemic. Why is it so hard for the republicans to accept this science, crush the virus, so that we can open our economy, and open our schools more safely. In our Heroes Act, in which this proposal is; and again, Mr. Pallone, our Chair of Energy and Commerce, has presented this plan. It’s not just money, it’s a plan. It’s been there for months; and even in previous legislation, we had pieces of it, but this has a comprehensive plan. We have $75 billion, that is what it will take to crush the virus.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (06:13)
The republicans had $15 billion and they said, “We’ll compromise and make it 16.” Now, that doesn’t even come close to meeting the need, or recognizing the loss in terms of health, but also in terms of our economy. So again, contempt for science, because science tells us what we need to do to test, to trace, to treat, to separate, to ventilate, to wear masks, so we can get started. Now, we all hope and pray for a vaccine, and that will make a tremendous difference. I salute the distinguished scientists and professionals at the FDA, that does not include the commissioner. I’m talking about the long-term scientist who work there, for the work that they have done on Warp Speed, initiative that they’d been involved in, for a while; that they initiated, frankly.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (07:17)
And, when we have a vaccine that has been tested, that is to say, has gone through the clinical trials, that science says are necessary to prove efficacy and safety. Hopefully that will be soon, we don’t want it one day sooner than it is ready, from a safety, an efficacy standpoint. We don’t want it one day later. And so, we want to make sure that there is no political interference, in the timing and decisions that are made. And, when we have that vaccine, and hopefully that will be soon, we all hope and pray, that it will be distributed in an ethically designed way to reach everyone; not just those with an N or with money, and the rest.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (08:12)
Because in our country, unless everyone is protected, none of us is safe, unless we’re all safe. Again, I’d stick with the science. Let’s skip the politics, when it comes to having clinical trials and the timing of it all. The next subject, I want to take up is this, they talk about the lives and the livelihood of the American people that are affected by the coronavirus; and by these fires and storms that are affecting our country, instead of paying attention to science, science, science. The next point I want to make is one that I get questions constantly all over the country, virtually, but I’m all over the country virtually from morning until late at night. And, that is about the security and the integrity of our elections.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (09:07)
Again, our bill, our Heroes Act, is about protecting the lives and the livelihood, as well as the life of our democracy. And, the assaults that had been made on the election, the discrediting of certain forms of voting and the rest, are not to be ignored. But they’re not to scare people from voting. As you may know, that there was a decision last night, a decision by a federal judge, issued a nationwide injunction against Trump’s sabotage of the Postal Service. The judge found that Trump and the Postmaster General DeJoy are involved in a politically motivated attack on the Postal Service in order to manipulate the 2020 election.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (10:02)
… to manipulate the 2020 election, that goes on to say, this assault will, “likely will slow down delivery of ballots this fall” creating a, “substantial possibility that many voters will be disenfranchised and that the states may not be able to effectively, timely, accurately determine election outcomes.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (10:27)
Again, the sabotage also is an assault on our health, as I’ve said to you before, 1.2 billion prescriptions were delivered by the Postal Service in 2019, that was before the coronavirus hit us. Over 80, some people think over 90%, of prescriptions delivered sent from the VA to veterans are delivered by the Postal Service. Social Security benefits paychecks, including those to our seniors and our veterans. So this issue, it’s just something that everybody talks about. I just told you, I think that we instituted our Sojourner Truth women’s vote project last week, last Tuesday, and then had again this Tuesday, and we’re ready for next Tuesday.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (11:24)
Next Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day. So we hope that everybody will be attuned to that. The ultimate Sojourner Truth Tuesday will be Election Day in November. In the meantime, we don’t agonize over some of the measures the administration is trying to do. We don’t agonize, we organize, and that’s what we are doing. But we do have to shine a bright light, and I hope that you all will too, on what is being done to jeopardize the integrity of our elections. Whether it is dismantling of the postal system, whether it is discrediting what it means to vote by mail and saying that really doesn’t count so why do it, whether it’s welcoming and enjoying the involvement of the Russians once again, 24/7, in our election systems, especially through the social media, and other interventions that may occur.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (12:28)
This is who we are as a nation, a democracy. We want to have the biggest vote possible, and respect the outcome as soon as possible. But this is a fight for our country, for the oath we take to protect and defend the Constitution and our democracy. And I’m so pleased that the court has been a counter to what is happening at the Justice Department, comments by the Attorney General, as well as the President of the United States.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (13:05)
My fourth point this morning is about China. As you know, well maybe you don’t know, but some of you know, that for a long time, over 30 years, I have been a critic of China when it comes to their unfair trade practices. They’re sending out components of weapons of mass destruction to rogue nations, and delivery systems as well, and their human rights violations. Next week, I’m so pleased that we will have two bills on the floor. One of them led by Jim McGovern, who’s the chair of the China Executive Commission. This is a bill, a bipartisan, bicameral legislation, by McGovern to ensure that goods made in the Xinjiang Uhygur Autonomous Region are not made with forced labor, those that are imported into the United States.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (14:07)
As you know, the Chinese government has arrested, put into camps, a minimum of 1 million, could be two or more million, Uhygur’s in so-called “education camps” and we want to be sure that the goods made in those camps and imported to the United States are not made with forced labor. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be in the camps. They can have forced labor outside the camps as well. And that’s Jim McGovern.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (14:40)
And Representative Lizzie Wexton’s bill will require US listed companies to disclose information about supply chains and the use of goods from forced labor or internment camps. We continue to wait for the Senate to take up the Tibet Policy and Support Act, which passed in January. We’ve had a number of successes on the floor, House and Senate, in a bipartisan way, speaking out against what’s happening in China, in Hong Kong, in Tibet, in the Uhygur territories and just across the country. I said it over and over, if we refuse to speak out about human rights in China, because of commercial interest, then we lose all moral authority to speak about human rights any place in the world.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (15:34)
Again, 30 years, at least one hour a day, on China, whether it’s from a security standpoint, whether it’s an economic standpoint, or a values standpoint. It’s a big country. So are we. We must have engagement, but we must also recognize when their acts of violence and almost crimes against humanity, we must speak out against them.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (16:01)
With that, I’d be pleased to take any questions that you have. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 1: (16:10)
What specific issues do you have with the Problem Solver proposal?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (16:12)
Oh, well, I’ve made my statement. Just go read my statement. I respect what they’re doing. I made a statement about it. As have our our Chairs.
Speaker 1: (16:27)
In holding out for 2.2 trillion though, are you making perfect the enemy of the good?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (16:28)
It’s not perfect. Perfect is 3.4 trillion. Remember we’ve come down 1 trillion and we met and said we’d meet them in the middle. So this is not about perfect being the enemy of the good. Any other questions?
Speaker 2: (16:43)
Yesterday, a woman who served under Vice President Mike Pence on the task force, Olivia Troy, came out and sharply criticized the President’s conduct. And this comes after John Bolton also did the same thing of the President. The White House, in turn, has questioned her credibility. Why shouldn’t the House call them and have them testify under oath to tell their stories to the American public?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (17:10)
The House has been trying to do that for a while. As you know, the administration has resisted that and we are in the courts on their bare subjects. But I just want a larger question for a second. The President, we all know what the President is. No need to go into that. The President’s enablers have a responsibility to our country. For months, the President was calling, early on, the virus a hoax. It was going to disappear magically. It was going to be a miracle. We’re all going to be at a church together on Easter Sunday. By the way, the holiest day of the year, the day Christ is risen means a lot to many of us. So him to deal frivolously with that, I found offensive, as I did his offense to science and saying what he did. But where were his people coming out and saying, “That’s not right, Mr. President. We’re going to leave if you continue to speak that way.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (18:14)
And that applies to so many other things. What he’s saying about immigrants to our country, what he’s saying about the economy, again, he is what he is and he’s the President of the United States, but these enablers, they’re going to have to tell their children and their grandchildren the responsibility they have for the fact that we are 200,000 people dead and that didn’t have to happen.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (18:45)
Would they have all been saved? No, but many would have, and there are metrics on this. Don’t take it from me. There’s scientific metrics of how many people could have been saved. So I remember our committees have an array of appeals, and when necessary, subpoena, and court actions to have the Executive Branch speak to the Congress. The first, Article One, the first branch of government, with oversight responsibilities of the other branches of government, as they have to us. So I think your idea’s a great one. Now, there’s a letter being put together by the Chairs of the Committees of Jurisdiction questioning the actions of the Attorney General of the United States, and whether the comments that he and others that he may have encouraged are making statements that have an impact on the adjudication of justice prevailing in certain cases, and also what impact that could have on the election. But this, it goes beyond the pale when you think in terms of-
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (20:02)
… beyond the pale, when you think in terms of what responsibility those … Some have left, some are speaking out. But the simple fact is, tens of millions of people are on unemployment insurance, 200,000 people have died, nearly 7 million people have been infected. Now, good for her, the young woman who came forward with her statement. Of course, they’re attacking her now, but something is very wrong with this picture.
Speaker 3: (20:36)
Will you ask her to testify? Will the House ask her to testify?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (20:38)
Yeah, again, I leave it up to the committees as to how they proceed. Because quite frankly, when you’re asking to testify or issuing a subpoena, you have to be careful about hitting them with your best shot because they have friendly courts along the way, who are not necessarily, in my view, committed to the separation of power.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (21:06)
Speaker 4: (21:08)
Yes. You mentioned potential politicizing of the vaccine. Now, it’s possible that Mr. Biden will be president when a vaccine is approved or when it’s going out, what advice would you give to him, and the steps that he should take, to make sure that he can have confidence that a coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (21:25)
I appreciate your question. It’s so important because whatever anybody might think of this president or this vaccine, it’s really important for us to have confidence in the vaccine, because what we need to do is to crush the virus. We have to do many things, the vaccine, one of them. Hopefully not so far away into the future. But unless there is confidence that the vaccine has gone through the clinical trials, and then is approved by the independent scientific advisory committee that is established to do just this, there will be doubts that people will have.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (22:09)
So I think that the vice president’s statements have been good, that he supports the science of it all. And again, we want it to work, we want it to be safe, we want it to be efficacious. Those are the tests, safety and efficacy. And we want it to be available in a widespread, ethical way. The best, it’s not even an argument, but the best case for the vaccine is to have it as closely identified with the scientist who will be putting it forth.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (22:48)
So we’ve had some good things. A number of the companies that have received funds, one hasn’t, Pfizer hasn’t received the funds, but the others receive funds to develop vaccines, and they had said that they will not promote or support a vaccine that has not gone through the clinical trials and met the standard of approval. So that’s very important. I feel confident that if and when we get the vaccine, and it’s a matter of time, it would be, as I say, these scientists, some of the best minds in our country, 24/ 7 working on the development of the vaccine, as well as the private sector involvement in it.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (23:38)
We want it to be a triumph of victory, whenever it comes, if it comes in two weeks or if it comes in four months. But I do think that there has to be a point of acceptance of the science, and that will give people confidence to avail themselves of the benefits of the vaccine.
Speaker 4: (23:59)
One quick followup on distribution. Was there anything in the distribution plan put out by the Trump administration this week? You said it must be ethical. Was there anything in that plan that you thought was not ethical?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (24:10)
Well, let me just say, I would like to see more about it because we have had an experience of what they say and what they do may be different things. I know they’re talking about the military putting out things. I know of everybody agrees that first responders and seniors should go first in all of this, but how are those decisions made?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (24:34)
Hopefully, not the way the president has made decisions about giving PPE, the personal protective equipment to states by just doing it, shall we say, in a manner not scientific and really not effective in terms of addressing the challenge we face. So I think there will be a bright light shown on it. So I think they are going to have to do it right, but that doesn’t mean it just goes to red states or rich people. It means that everybody has access to it. That’s ethical, but it’s also smart, from an epidemiology standpoint, because it means if everybody is protected, we’re all protected.
Speaker 5: (25:20)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (25:20)
Speaker 5: (25:21)
Yes, you had mentioned that churches, you are Catholic, and the Archbishop of San Francisco recently wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post, where he says that government is denying people the right to worship and it’s high time San Francisco let people go back to church again with proper precautions. He’s saying that the sacraments can’t be received through Zoom or Skype.
Speaker 5: (25:46)
Your opinion about that. Should churches in San Francisco be allowed to reopen with precautions?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (25:52)
Well, I’ve been to church in San Francisco recently, and I did receive communion. Just so you know what it was though, we had to make, we had to sign up, and they only had two places left, so fortunately I got in under the wire, to go. When we got there, the church maybe holds 250 people, there were probably 12 people there. Here, there, there … Very, very, very spaced. But that was it, no more would be allowed. So again, obeying the social distancing, and then we did receive communion. The priest washed his hands before he gave us communion. I took it in my hand. I miss going to church regularly. Of course, we have virtual mass here, many masses in DC, but all the other places.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (26:52)
With all due respect to Archbishop, I think we should follow science on this. And [inaudible 00:27:02] faith and science sometimes are counter to each other. Around here people say to me, “You’re a person of faith. Why do you believe in science?” And I said, “Well, I believe that science is an answer to our prayers. It is a creation of God, and one that is an answer to our prayers.” So with all due respect to the Archbishop, we have some areas of agreement and some areas of disagreement. So I don’t know if he was speaking as our pastor or as an lobbyist, advocate, but whatever it is, I’m sure that he must’ve meant if it is scientifically safe, rather than jeopardizing peoples’ health if they want to go to church.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (27:43)
But I thank you for your question.
Speaker 6: (27:44)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (27:44)
Yes, [inaudible 00:27:46].
Speaker 6: (27:44)
Good morning. So yesterday you said you thought you had been compromised already on coronavirus, coming down to the lower figure here. What would it take at this stage to pry loose some sort of a deal? Just Republicans coming to that number, or what, in your mind, do you see-
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (28:00)
Well, we had to meet the needs of the American people. This is not a check box or the path of least resistance. You have to meet the needs of the American people. And even the chairman of the Fed has said you’re not going to turn the economy around until you get rid of this virus. He said it more elegantly than that two days ago, in his statement. Perhaps you saw it? Perhaps you saw his connection between how the economy will come back only if we get rid of the virus. So we have to do that in a substantial way. Not in a, well, we did something. No, we know what the needs are, we know what science tells us we need to do, and that’s where we have to go.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (28:44)
Now, I did say yesterday that there are more needs that have emerged since we passed the bill four months ago, May 15 and three days … What’s today, the 17th?
Speaker 6: (28:59)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (29:00)
18th. Four months and four days ago. There are more needs that have emerged. Again, the anticipation and hope at that time was that we would engage in crushing the virus. We didn’t. More deaths, more cases, more challenges in terms of jobs. And one of them being with the airlines. The bill that was there, the CARES Act, did good things until the end of September. So now that emerges again as a challenge, which we had hoped would have been addressed by crushing the virus.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (29:41)
The other part, restaurants. The restaurants have a big ask, a very big ask in terms of they’ve taken a beating on this. I think there’s bipartisan interest in helping restaurants. Mr. Blumenauer has a very substantial bill, $125 billion in terms of assisting restaurants. And so if some of-
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (30:03)
…In terms of assisting restaurants. And so, if some of these additions are to be taken into consideration that means that in order to stay at halfway between where they were and where we were that we’d have to come down further in some of our own original priorities in the bill and that’s what a negotiation is about. We don’t negotiate with ourselves, we negotiate with the other side on this and they have to see that the science is clear. We need the testing. They know that, they should know that. Why wouldn’t they know that? The state and local government is their big hangup. They have contempt for science and disdain for state and local government. And the chairman of the fed referenced state and local government as being an important part of our economy. And his, I don’t know if it’s in the statement or the Q and A but what came forth once again he has said that before.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (31:01)
These are our heroes, healthcare workers, first responders, police and fire, transportation, sanitation, food workers, teachers, teachers, teachers, largely paid for and hired by the state and local government. You wouldn’t be able nor would I be here without these workers. The healthcare workers, some of them risking their lives in order to save lives and now losing their jobs. People who take risks to go to work so that we can have food on the table dismissed by them. Transportation workers who enable people to get to work dismissed by them. Police and fire, I have conversations always with them but especially recently with fire because of the fires in the west and getting a report on the infections as well as some deaths in terms of first responders. Because they are some of the first people on the scene when there is a report that someone needs to be taken to the hospital or something and then again the healthcare workers.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (32:21)
So understand how important these heroes are to you, to your family, to our economy, to our society, and understand why we have to support them and reject the language of the White House that says, “Oh, they’re in blue states.” Oh really? I thought we were the United States of America. I thought that and I still do. And I wear my pin. This is a pin that says one country one destiny, written on this flag one country one destiny.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (32:57)
I gave this pen to John Lewis on 4th of July weekend the last time I was able to visit with him actually in Atlanta and we shared the thought that this one country one destiny was embroidered in the coat that Abraham Lincoln had on that fateful night. It was a coat he wore often but also that night, one country one nation. So any thought that, “Oh well, we don’t have to help state and local because blue states have more infections than other states so why should we care?” Well, we do care. I’m going to vote care and we’re going to vote health and we’re going to vote truths and we’re going to vote starting today in four states across the country. Voting has started.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (33:57)
And again, we want them to be able to not have to sacrifice their health in order to vote. So, have the social distancing, have adequate polling places so that distancing can be enabled as well as for those who want to vote in person. But also making it easy for people to vote by mail and that they do so with the confidence that their vote will be counted as cast and that no skullduggery on the part of the president and the postal service will impair the postal service to get the ballots to people in a timely fashion and get them back to the authorities in time to be counted as cast and to do so in a way that…
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (34:49)
Again I say it to everybody here’s what you have to do. Go to iwillvote.com, iwillvote.com. iwillvote.com. Put in your state, your zip code and it’ll tell you how to vote by mail, how to vote in person. If you need further information put in more information. It’ll See if you are registered as well as to confirm that you are or enable you to register. This is eliminating obstacles to participation in our voting process is a very patriotic duty that we all have. That’s what we’re doing with Sojourner Truth each Tuesday, truth Tuesday. A woman suffragist, abolitionist, slave, in her honor we want to make sure we have the best possible largest number of people having the healthiest access to voting.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (35:49)
But I’m excited that the voting is starting today. I would say to people vote early so the post office… Now, let me just say this about the postal workers. They are great. They are going to get the mail to and fro. We just don’t want them to be impaired by having sorting machines removed or dismantled, post mailboxes removed and the rest. But I have every confidence in our postal workers whether they’re postal workers or letter carriers in the post office or coming to your door with mail. I have confidence in them because they are truly patriots. Postal service, most American institution you can name really. Most popular, 90%, over 90% approval bigger than any agency of government.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (36:51)
Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster general. Abraham Lincoln was named a postmaster general and he yielded to a woman widow who needed the money and so he yielded it to her but that had been one of his titles. Others have served coming from the war, so many veterans, a large number of people in the postal service are our veterans. So in any event, as American as apple pie used to be. Is that still popular? I mean, with all the food this and that apple pie, motherhood, baseball, postal service. Vote safely. Thank you.
Speaker 7: (37:36)