Apr 24, 2020
Nancy Pelosi Speech on Coronavirus Relief Bill April 24
Nancy Pelosi addressed reporters on April 24 on a COVID-19 relief bill, saying, “there will be a relief bill and it will be expensive.” Read the full transcript here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
Senator Warren’s brother’s dying. That’s people we know, but people we don’t know, they’re having the same kind of terrible grief in their family, so our prayers and thoughts are with those who’ve lost their loved ones. Our prayers are with those who are diagnosed, over 900,000 people. That is approaching 900,000 diagnosed. And also 26 million having lost their jobs. Staggering numbers, lots of personal and family grief.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:40)
The conversation that’s going on now is if we are to open government, how and when? As I have said it should be science-based testing. Testing holds the key to opening the door to taking us from home into the economy. We had testing, everyone agrees testing, well, not everyone, scientists agree that testing, contact tracing and isolation are the path to opening up our economy.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:19)
Since this has occurred, three times in March, and then yesterday the Congress has passed four bills in a bipartisan way to address the coronavirus crisis. The first one, March 4th, we wrote it in February, brought it to the floor the beginning of March. Testing, testing, testing. That’s what we talked about at that time. Still a month and a half later, we don’t have anywhere near the adequate testing or the plans for it that we need. That’s why we’re so glad we had provision in yesterday’s bill, which I’ll talk about in a moment. It’s so really sad. It’s hard to even explain why we don’t have the testing. We don’t have sufficient kits, and we don’t have the reagents and the rest. So yesterday brought us some hope because we have $25 billion in testing in the bill for, and then we have a large amount of money for small businesses. We’re especially pleased that we were able to get it set aside of $60 billion for small businesses, shall we say, the underbanked businesses, small business, mom and pops, women, minorities, veterans, urban and rural area and tribal lands, Native Americans, all who have were not first in line, shall we say, in the first round of this.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:57)
So I just want to say this because I see something that is out there, and I just want to give lie to it. You saw on the floor yesterday, the members getting up there and saying, the Republicans saying, we should have done this two weeks ago. Yes, we agree. We agree it should have been done a two weeks ago. And the person who led their debate, the ranking member on the ways and means committee, Mr. Brady, he said specifically, he said, it’s just so stunning. He said, we could have agreed on this bill in 16 minutes, Republicans and Democrats. It got held up for all sorts of extracurricular stuff. Extracurricular stuff, $100 billion for hospitals and testing, $75 for hospitals, $25 for testing. $120 billion more for small businesses, $60 in the set aside, another $60 in grants and loans from the emergency disasters loans are used by many in small business because it’s faster to get them, and you have a longer time to pay them out and a low interest rate.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:10)
So that was $50 billion, which is leveraged to over $300 billion in loans, $10 billion in grants. We wanted $15. We’ve got $10. That’s in addition to a previous $10. We need much more. But nonetheless $120 billion more for small business in addition to the $250 which we all support. We all helped create the PPP. We certainly support it. But we wanted to be sure that we were not hardening the disparity and access to credit that exist in our society by spending hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to not have fair access for everyone.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:57)
So when they just say that extracurricular stuff, now that extracurricular stuff was by and large what we proposed on the floor of the Senate. Remember the timetable. April 7th, Secretary Mnuchin called me and said, I need a quarter of a trillion dollars in 48 hours for the PPP. Well, we all support the PPP, but let’s see the data. How is this working? I’ll get back to you. The next day, we got back to him with a plan. Democrats in the House and in the Senate putting together a plan that had just what we’re talking about now. A set aside for the smaller underbanked community, the funding for hospital and testing, etc.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:44)
And that was when Mitch McConnell took to the floor on the 9th, he went to the floor two weeks ago, and he said then, this is it. $250, not one penny. $250, $250. He would not hear the objection raised by Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin of Maryland. They objected to the unanimous consent request that he made and offered the amended version that contained what we passed yesterday, and what he passed by unanimous consent on Tuesday. But for at least one more week, they resisted until the beginning of last weekend when they were agreed to negotiate. And here we have a bill that has the set aside, a carve out for the smaller businesses, the increase in the loan program and the grant program, $100 billion for hospitals and testing. Extracurricular stuff to the Republicans. Vital to the life, livelihood and success of the American people.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:52)
I just want to review that timetable because when I heard Mitch on the floor the other day, he was saying, we have all these things in here that we asked for. No, you’ve rejected. No, you’ve rejected. Speaking of Mitch, what’s gotten into him? Well, it’s an indication, the president is asking people to inject Lysol into their lungs. And Mitch is saying that states should go bankrupt. It’s a clear visible within 24 hours of how the Republicans reject science and reject governance. If you don’t believe in science, and you don’t believe in governance, that’s their approach. And we do not. We don’t want more government than we need, but we know that governance has a role. And we know that science has a role. And without science in our decision making, we are not going to be on a very successful path.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:46)
So what did we do yesterday? We strengthened the PPP program, the Paycheck Protection Program. It went from $250 to $310, that’s $60 as a set aside. We increased the lending with the $50 billion of leverage to over $300, more like $350 billion in loans and $10 billion more in grants that don’t have to be paid back. $75 billion for resources to the front lines, including PPE, personal protective equipment, and for providers, for our hospitals, and $25 billion for testing. We were very pleased that we were able to get language that called for a national testing strategy. Strategy, imagine that, to increase capacity and address racial, ethnic and geographic disparities. This is an interim bill. We were not planning on this. We had CARES One, and we were getting ready for CARES Two. And then along came this bill. And so this bill followed the path of CARES one. In one particular way, it did not. In CARES One, we had $150 billion for state and local. We called that our heroes. State-
Nancy Pelosi: (09:02)
… State and local. We call that our hero … Them our heroes, state and local, they pay the wages and salaries of our healthcare workers and public hospitals and the rest. Police and fire, emergency services folks, first responders, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers. Our transit workers who enable people, that essential workers, to get to work. And again, we have to see what it means to our food workers, whether they’re in grocery stores or carry out or chain stores or whatever, they are on the front line. They are visibly and physically exposed to the virus because of where they are.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:41)
So we have to do something about that, and not to do something, in my view, is morally wrong. It’s medically disastrous and we can’t defeat this pandemic if Mitch McConnell is letting our health heroes get fired, and that’s what’s happening, they’re getting fired now. Chairman … Excuse me, leader Schumer mentioned at a press event, some of you maybe were there the other day, that hundreds had been fired from hospitals in New York already, public hospitals. Unfortunately we’re seeing Republicans make comments with zero connection to science and facts. Let’s just put that behind us and let’s go forward in a way that gets the job done for the American people. I’ve mentioned the president and his, let’s see, we can kill the virus by injecting disinfectants like Lysol into the body. Clearly and sadly this president is not listening to medical experts and I don’t know which ones he is listening to, if any.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:50)
As I said to my colleague a few days ago, last week, I said, “America must ignore the lies and start to listen to scientists and other respected professionals in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones.” So again, if you wish, I can go over what we’re hoping to do in CARES two, but I do appreciate the fact that so many members came back, 388 to five that was the vote on the floor for the bill. I am so appreciative of the members, the staffs of the committees. Nydia Velazquez, Maxine Waters, Frank Palone, they did a remarkable job in getting this done in this legislation. Next I want to thank all of the, shall we say, maintenance of the Capitol, the support staff on the floor, the Capitol physician’s office, and the sergeant at arms who gave us our regimentation on how we could come to the floor in a way that had as close to zero interaction with each other as possible, enabling Congress to take the vote, which the Republicans insisted upon, and we were there.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:03)
We had 211, I think, Democrats who voted for and so I’m very proud that so many people made the effort to come even though it was pretty clear that it was going to be a very big vote, and in any event, we hope that again, we had four bills, all bi-partisan, that the CARES act two will be bipartisan as well. I especially was pleased that we were able to pass our legislation to establish the select committee to address the coronavirus crisis shall be chaired by Mr. Clyburn, and I’ll answer any questions I have about that. Yes ma’am. Yes?
Speaker 1: (12:42)
You mentioned Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s comments about bankruptcy. To a lesser extent, other congressional Republicans have been making similar arguments, have very little appetite for increased spending. How do you plan to balance giving state and local governments the funding that they need, all making sure it’s targeted and not going to answer for fiscal irresponsibility of the past?
Nancy Pelosi: (13:10)
Oh no, this is all coronavirus. I thank you for your question. Everything that we have done in these four bills and what we will do are all connected to coronavirus. It’s about addressing the outlays that states and municipalities have made on the coronavirus, as well as the revenue lost because they have no cashflow, no revenue coming in. The same thing with the hospitals. They don’t have paying patients who offset some of the charitable work that they do. So in the hospitals, as with the state and local directly related to coronavirus outlays, coronavirus revenue lost. But it is indicative of the fact that they don’t believe in governance because they don’t really see the connection between the transit worker, the public health personnel, the police, fire and all the rest that are so essential to meeting the needs of the American people. But the fact is it’s about jobs, as this is small business initiative it’s about jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. So this is about jobs. So many people’s jobs dependent on teachers are being fired, teachers, the custodians of our children, grandchildren in my case, for a large part of the day.
Speaker 1: (14:31)
And one more question. In terms of is vote by mail non-negotiable for you, will you agree to another relief package that doesn’t include vote by mail?
Nancy Pelosi: (14:42)
I don’t know how many more bills we will have, but I don’t intend to negotiate them in this room. Thank you. Yes ma’am?
Speaker 2: (14:48)
One question about the White House and one about small businesses. You talked about some of the president’s medical suggestions last night, but there are also government experts who say that they were retaliated against because they didn’t back up some of the president’s medical ideas. Have you spoken to Dr. Rick Bright and what if anything do you think the Congress should do about it?
Nancy Pelosi: (15:11)
I haven’t spoken to Dr. Bright. I know of his work and I’m very … I respect him enormously. My colleague, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, is the chair of the health subcommittee at energy and commerce. Her legislation created the department, the entity that he is the head of or had been until a couple of days ago the head of, and the allegation, shall we say, that the administration was encouraging those with responsibility to quicken the approval process for, shall we say, friends, not based on science but on relationships is a devastating charge and so it has to be looked into. Congresswoman Eshoo has said that she would have a hearing on this
Speaker 2: (15:59)
And just given the backlog in the surveys we’ve seen, there are most likely going to be a lot of small businesses that aren’t able to seek funds in this next round either. What do you say to those small business?
Nancy Pelosi: (16:11)
Well, here’s the thing, it appeared to be a good thing to enable the banks to facilitate the loans rather than have it go through the whole SBA process to facilitate the loans. I heard people who should know otherwise on TVs that say this morning, “Well, the banks have to look out for their own blah blah blah.” No they don’t. We’ve looked out for them though. Again, these are guaranteed loans by the SBA. This is just like an ATM machine. SBA puts the money in, the lender takes it out. It isn’t any of their money. On top of that, the fed has assumed the loans. That is to say taking them off the books of the bank.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:57)
So it has nothing to do with their capital requirements or anything like that. So they are just a facilitator. But all of a sudden, in some cases it looks like they’ve made themselves decision makers about relationships that they have and the rest. And I think that requires some close scrutiny because this shouldn’t depend on what your bank relationship is. The bank is covered, they’re protected. It should depend on your application that you make in terms of how you’re going to pay your employees, your rent, your utilities, et cetera, in order to be able to obtain the loan.
Speaker 1: (17:36)
But I’m saying even if the banks do everything right, there are just so many small businesses out there that applied that most likely this money will run out-
Nancy Pelosi: (17:44)
Well, we’ll see. We’ll just see. And we want to see the data and from the start, from the very start, when I say from the start, when we pass the bill, and [inaudible 00:17:54] experience as chair of the small business committee said, we have to see the data. We have to see the data. And the data we saw through the first traunch-
Nancy Pelosi: (18:02)
To see the data, and the data we saw through the first tranche had some, shall we say disappointments, but let’s see how we go now that we have the carve out to include those people. Because it was basically said, “First come, first serve,” was the attitude. And some people knew that they were never going to be first come, first serve, so they didn’t even apply, and others applied and didn’t even hear back.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:25)
There’s more money in the system, let’s see. But we also, again, this is about protecting jobs and recognizing small business as the source of job creation and wealth creation in our country, the optimism, the entrepreneurship, we respect that as the vitality of our economy. However, the job… They need customers, you can keep the place open, you can pay the rent and the utility bill, and the staff, but if your door is open and nobody’s coming in, you’re still not getting ahead of the game. That’s why we need the other job piece, which is the… One of the reasons we need the other job, we needed for the purposes that those employees serve in terms of first responders, healthcare workers, teachers, et cetera, the post office ,and the rest, but it is disappointing that on the first tranche people had some disappointments. We’ll see how it goes next. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 3: (19:26)
Do you still plan on having the house come back on May 4th and if so, do you expect to have the next legislation right [inaudible 00:19:34] at that time?
Nancy Pelosi: (19:35)
Any decision that we have about when we come back, rest with the sergeant-at-arms and the Capitol physician, hopefully things will get better. Who knows? But we will be ready soon with our next bill, and the sooner we can pass it the better because our teachers, our firefighters, our first responders and the rest need the resources that the funding for state and local would bring.
Speaker 3: (20:00)
If I can I ask a follow up on this state and local money?
Nancy Pelosi: (20:01)
Speaker 3: (20:01)
How much do you see as necessary to include in the next package for state and local?
Nancy Pelosi: (20:06)
Probably a number equivalent to what we’ve done for small businesses, but I don’t know. We’re asking them for their evaluation of what is the need, what is the absorptive capacity, what can you spend, and the rest. But a lot of the money that they’re getting as money already spent on the coronavirus and again, loss of revenue. So we should be able to identify, I have an idea about what the governors want. I’m finding the number from the state, the municipalities, they had a number, but that was a couple of weeks ago, it may have changed, so we’ll see. We’re going to do what we need. Yes, sir. [inaudible 00:02:47].
Speaker 4: (20:50)
Thank you, Madam Speaker. Do you think that yesterday’s notice, the entire process, were evidence that we can bring Congress back while [inaudible 00:20:55] Washington safely, or do you think it was a demonstration that it was an unnecessary step, particularly on legislation that was going to pass almost unanimously?
Nancy Pelosi: (21:06)
Well, not only yesterday, but our first bill, CARES one. When I say first, the first that we did, since we hadn’t been here, CARES one was predicated on the fact that we needed to show a quorum to have a voice vote so that we could function as Congress and those who needed to stay home or for whom it was unhealthy for them to come forward, they could be home. And that was an earlier stage when there was a lot more uncertainty about would this work, but again, Capitol physician and the serjeant-at-arms laid out a plan and I thought it was a beautiful sight to behold. I think that we didn’t get enough, shall we say, visibility for how we accommodated that to use the gallery and the rest so that people were very separated for an instant, less than a minute.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:04)
I object because the quorum is not present. The speaker that designated, the speaker looks counts, the house, a quorum is present, everybody leaves. Yesterday was almost easier because you didn’t have to be in the place at the same time. So that was the challenge because you have to be there in the room at the same time. So in any event, the timing of how alphabetically or however geographic, people were, shall we say, doing it their way, but nonetheless, no more than X number of people on the floor at any given time, and that was enforced by the serjeant-at-arms and the Capitol’s physician’s office. And so it showed that on both occasions when one of the Republicans insisted on a quorum being present and wanting a recorded vote, and we said, “No, we have a quorum,” or yesterday, according to what I’ve heard from the other side, and I believed them, that there were maybe 22 members who wanted a recorded vote.
Nancy Pelosi: (23:10)
So the Senate can do this enormous consent for five members on the floor, they only need one. But they’d probably had others who wanted to speak. And we have to have the physical presence, as you said, because we know how this is going to turn out because we were in agreement, it was bi-partisan, because of that. So yes, it was an example that we can get it done. As you know, we had some discussion about where we go next with this in terms of proxy voting and the rest of that.
Speaker 4: (23:41)
A quick followup, clarification on an earlier question about leader McConnell’s comments. He had also said, aside from the state bankruptcy comments that pumping the brakes on CARES two, that the Congress now has to start considering debt and deficits. What is your response to that?
Nancy Pelosi: (23:57)
My response is, is this the same Mitch McConnell who led almost a $2 trillion tax break, that 83% of benefits went to the top 1% without even saying, “Who? Who?” Is the deficit Hawk without saying a word about what’s impact on the deficit was about $2 trillion with no benefit, no benefit to the economy or to our children’s future except a $2 trillion debt. So that… Again, anti governance, anti-science, that’s who they are, extra curricular stuff that’s $100 billion to hospitals. So understand this, they want to make it like we held this up even though they agreed to what we offered two weeks ago, they held this up. [inaudible 00:24:45] getting into that. Let’s just move forward. There will be a bill, and it will be expensive, and we look forward to doing it as soon as possible because jobs are at stake, protection of our people, the health and wellbeing of the American people are at stake, and sooner we get this done the better. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 5: (25:06)
As far as 55 million students all over the country who have been affected by being outside of the brick and mortar school, but they’re doing distance learning. And I know that the [inaudible 00:25:21] whole idea of broadband, but now you have the issue with a number of groups of harbored, they’re criticizing the whole idea of homeschooling. After this pandemic is over, where do you see the whole issue of homeschooling going in light of this whole pandemic and distance learning is concerned? Where do you see it going?
Nancy Pelosi: (25:39)
Well, I think homeschooling is an individual decision that people make, I don’t think it’s a public policy that we advocate or not, it’s what people decide they want to do and God bless them for that. And I have no criticism of that, it’s what their choice is. I think people want to get back to school, I think children value the socialization, being together with their friends and the rest, the value to learning of people hearing different ideas, whatever the grade is up to. Three grandchildren who are in grade school, who are engaged in social media learning, they’re different versions, so I don’t say one or the other. I have three in college who are engaged, four in college who are engaged in distance learning and they seem to be doing okay, but I don’t think they think of it as a way of life. I think they want to get back to school. So that’s three, and I said three, they’re are four in college, three in grade school. I have two more, one more of them is also, five in college with distant learning and they’re almost finished, it’s coming up soon in May. Same thing with the younger ones.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:03)
Which is coming up soon in May. Same thing with the younger ones. I have one whose graduated from college. He just finished his last coursework in the rest. So, I see it in different versions of the story, and I know they want to be with their friends. But again, it’s going to school, it’s going to school.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:23)
Now, what we have to do is make sure that in times like this, that every child has the same opportunity to learn. For example, in California, if you gave every child the technology, still don’t live in areas that have the service. And so that’s why we must have a broadband initiative to have high-speed always on social media for everyone across the country, and a grid that operates, and able to get that done. It’s not just for school, it’s about telemedicine, it’s about telemarketing, it’s about family connecting and the rest.
Nancy Pelosi: (28:06)
And if the coronavirus, among many things, the coronavirus has taught us, have taught us that it’s really important not only to have your own equipment, but to have the service. So many kids in inner cities that are urban deserts, but also, especially in rural America, they don’t have that access. And when they did, if they would go to a local library or whatever, even being in the parking lot so they could have the access, those places are closed by and large. So this is something that must be addressed.
Nancy Pelosi: (28:44)
And as far as homeschooling, God bless people who do that, because that as a mother of five, I used to say that I had four in diapers at a time, because they were all very close in age, and just when that ended, I thought glory, hallelujah, the light at the end of the tunnel was a train coming at me called homework. And the next years were on homework. Now, that was okay then, but now the sophistication of the homework that kids get is quite challenging. So I’m a great admirer of those who have the patience and the knowhow and the enthusiasm for homeschooling. Yes sir.
Speaker 6: (29:25)
I have a question.
Nancy Pelosi: (29:26)
We need two more people, so why don’t we take both. Okay? Yes, sir.
Speaker 6: (29:31)
Actually it was a two-part question about the …
Nancy Pelosi: (29:37)
Is that okay with you?
Speaker 6: (29:37)
It’s up to you how many questions we take. But just about what may be in CARES. One thing is the question of the state and local aid. If there isn’t state and local aid in phase four CARES 2, should the Fed take an active role in financing state governments through this time, using its new emergency lending powers?
Nancy Pelosi: (30:01)
With or without, there will not be a bill without state and local. Okay. But the Fed should be doing that anyway. And I’m in communication with Chairman Powell about what we enabled the Fed to do in the last bill. I wanted the word “shall” do this. They used the word “shall”, but they used “shall endeavor to”, which isn’t quite the same as “shall”, but nonetheless, the Chairman told me he took that as a “shall” so that they could relax.
Nancy Pelosi: (30:36)
When we originally were having this conversation, he said, “I have to understand the credit worthiness of how we’re going to get paid back and this or that.” You know what? We’re in an emergency. We have to see ourselves through this. So the Fed has to play a big role in all of this and they are playing a much stepped-up role than they were a month and a half ago. We’ll see how it’s working as we do this bill and see if they need any more legislative justification.
Speaker 6: (31:14)
And on employer liability when people go back to work, is that an area that you see will be an area of negotiation in the next bill?
Nancy Pelosi: (31:14)
Again, we have an array of things that have been related to the workers, whether it’s OSHA to have protections for the workers, family medical leave, Cobra, healthcare special enrollment period, pension support, more for unemployment insurance and the rest. And we have prioritized, or some people use the word curated what the priorities will be. So when members present, and we’ve got all kinds of ideas, we’ll see what fits into how we protect our workers. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 7: (31:56)
Thank you Madame Speaker. Could you speak to the post office, the status of the post office? You mentioned it earlier.
Nancy Pelosi: (32:03)
Yeah. The post office has approval of over 90%. I don’t know anything in our country that has an approval of 90%. Oh, Barack Obama, among the Democrats anyway. The post office has an approval rate of over 90%. It is just a necessary connection for the American people, especially our seniors who get their drugs to the post office, who get their communications for many of them in that way.
Nancy Pelosi: (32:34)
Right now I see a very big danger for our country in the form of the Trump administration’s interest in privatizing the post office. This is just about somebody on the outside making money off of the post office instead of recognizing the important role that the post office plays.
Nancy Pelosi: (32:56)
The Postmaster General was one of the earliest appointments in our first cabinet. State, Treasury, Defense, Attorney General, Postmaster General, the fifth highest. And so now you see this is really dangerous. And Mnuchin at Treasury is trying to leverage the debt situation in a way that must be stopped. And the only way it will be stopped is if the American people understand what a loss it is for them. I don’t know if people think it’s because the President wants to come after Amazon, whatever it is.
Nancy Pelosi: (33:35)
But I think that it predates that. I think it is privatization because they’re anti-governance, and that’s who they are. And that’s a legitimate debate to have in our country, and we will have it. Because if we don’t have the postal system, and again all the people depend on it for, and of course they don’t like vote by mail. And at this time, at this time of the coronavirus when vote by mail is so important in terms of as a health issue, but also medicines and all the rest that people are depending on, so many things that they’re ordering online, coming by mail. For them to be toying with this notion that they have, that they’re going to prioritize the postal system is something the public should be aware of and should reject. Thank you.
Nancy Pelosi: (34:27)
We had money. We asked for 25 then 20 billion in CARES 1. We got it down to six. And it was bipartisan support. We had some support in the Senate on the Republican side. But the White House, and they told me it came right from the President, no money for the post office. Instead, inject Lysol into your lung as we shut down the states. Thank you all.
Nancy Pelosi: (34:56)
And really, let’s be prayerful about … All this policy is one thing, but the personal losses that we have of these families, it’s staggering. I’m absolutely shaken by it. I kept thinking yesterday, please don’t go over, but how would it not when we have that many, 900,000 who are susceptible to losing their lives. Thank you all very much. Stay safe.