Mar 5, 2020
Nancy Pelosi Weekly News Conference Transcript: March 5, 2020
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly news conference today on March 5, 2020. Read the full transcript right here on Rev.com.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
Earlier this morning, some of us were together right in this very spot talking about the census and how it’s starting now. We want everyone to participate, want everybody in America to help define the size and the character of the quality and quantity, not only that, the beautiful diversity of America. We want to help to avoid some of the attempts that are coming to undermine an accurate count. One of them is a mailer that has gone out by someone claiming it’s an official census mailer, do not tear up, fill out this form. Of course it isn’t real and we’re tracking that down. We’re very concerned about what Facebook has done. Facebook has something with the authority of the President of the United States faking its way into looking like something to do with this census. It is not. And when they were asked, they said it was consistent with their policy, even though it was a false transmission. It wasn’t an official census.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:10)
And we’re excited. And this morning we talked about the fact that part of the census will be electronic and we want to make sure that everybody has that capability, has access to what linguistically and culturally and geographically in every way. That reduces some of the need for the geographic to go online. But we’re very concerned about what Facebook and we’ve told them to take down that site, to take down that site. It’s a lie and it undermines who we are and they’d be good for their profits, but that’s what counts for them. It’s not what counts for us and the census. Sadly we have more concern about moving onto the corona virus. We have more concerns about additional awareness, anyway, of the spread of it. I don’t know if these are additional cases or we’re just learning more about what is out there and some loss of life. It’s very sad.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:13)
We’re very proud that yesterday we came to forehead, a very strong bipartisan piece of legislation, much improved on what was sent to us originally in terms of the appropriation for the coronavirus. But again, except for three, I think it was only three, who voted against a strong bipartisan support, which shortly will be voted upon in the Senate, sent over. We’ll have this signing ceremony, send it over to the President. But as we go forward, we have to just stipulate to fact. We have to dispel some of the misinformation that has been put out there. And for that purpose, we’ve had the opportunity and a number of meetings yesterday with the Vice President today with a wide range of representatives of the administration to just try to correct the record. When the President says they’re only 15 and they’re four or five times that many at that time, they’re more now, that’s just not right. And when the President said, go to work, no, there are other guidances that should be out there.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:18)
And when the President said and he did say, precisely, the Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing. He said that Wednesday at a meeting addressing the virus outbreak and we did that decision a few days ago so that the testing can take place in a much more rapid and accurate fashion. While the aid to Senator Lamar Alexander, who’s the chair of the committee of jurisdiction said “The administration, the Obama administration made no such rule change” and a policy expert at the association of public health laboratories said, “We aren’t sure what rule he was referencing.” There was an intense interest in doing some things. He agreed with Lamar’s, excuse me, Mr. Chairman’s aide’s statement, that there was no such rule change.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:12)
So again, we go down this list of things now we’re trying to … At our briefing yesterday, we’re honored to have the Vice President visit as the representative of the President in terms of fighting this virus. We had concerns and they’re going to get back to us on some of the answers, the concerns regarding not only the number of the test but the integrity of the test and having to correct tests that were not reliable before. Next on that is when you take the test, then it has to go someplace to be analyzed. What is the turnaround time? And are people walking the streets not knowing whether they are positive or negative? We need to ramp that up so that that shortens the time between the test and the judgment as to whether it’s positive or negative.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:04)
We also have concerns about travel. We’re getting some that said use common sense when you travel. We have others who are more specific in what they’re recommending and they’re going to get back to that on us. We have concerns about the workplace. Do people get unemployment insurance if they are told to stay home from work or if their business shuts down, sadly, then how are they compensated? How do they live under those circumstances? We want them to get back to us on that. We were pleased that in our bill, we were able to get the SBA loans approved that would go to businesses that are negatively … Small businesses that were negatively impacted. Now, let’s just say in terms of fact, what the proposal was it sent to us was $2.5 billion, some of which was ransacking the Ebola account in the home. He didn’t account for poor people, the HEAP account, those kinds of accounts.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:12)
Instead, what we passed yesterday was a $.3 billion of new funds, not ransacking anything and designate it specifically for the purpose as spelled out in the legislation, addressing some of the concerns we have about testing, about the analysis, processing of edge, getting the information there. Other questions that came up at our meeting with the Vice President yesterday, regarded healthcare providers and their exposure and how we protect them, whether it’s with advisories or whether it’s with masks or whatever physical possibilities there are. And they’re more than just the masks, gowns, whatever. It’s sad, hopefully this is all redundant. Hopefully that we are taking precautions that will prevent more from happening, but that it’s a giant step forward. We think we need to do more depending on how this expands. We want to have what we need to have because we want to have the people to have confidence.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:27)
And I think one way, important way to have confidence is for us to have truth and trust in what is being said, to have the resources necessary in real time that compensate state and local government and other entities that are already spending resources, using beds, accommodations, having an opportunity cause for what else they might be doing with those. And again, working together in a completely a political way on this based on science and evidence and fact and truth and the true epidemiology of this coronavirus and where it exists and how it spreads. And again, how America can be a resource to the world because as you know, these viruses know no boundary. And so in a humanitarian way, as we did with Ebola, we want to help to stop it and prevent it, but what also is in our interest to do so. So that on those two.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:29)
And next week we have a number of bills coming up. The new repealing the no ban, the Muslim no ban issues that relate to … Later we’ll be doing the surprise billing, but hopefully very soon on that we’re coming to closure on bipartisan proposal in that regard. But next week, we hope to reauthorize FYSA and we plan to pass Senator Cain’s bipartisan war powers resolution among other things that we’ll do next week. Again though, everything is overwhelmed by the coronavirus because this is about the health and wellbeing of the American people and how we in a very coordinated government wide way respond to it. And as I say, we’re proud of the bipartisan nature of the bill that we were able to negotiate yesterday. But it took some time to add small business administration as members came in with ideas of the tele … I’m very proud of California, Mike Thompson and others from rural areas talked about telemedicine, telehealth, and that we’re able, after much negotiation, to finally get that into the legislation as well.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:48)
We’re listening to members and trying to accommodate their experience and what can be helpful from that experience in the legislation. It was good and I’ll look forward to signing the enrollment, enrolling the bill before we send it to the President later this afternoon.
Speaker 1: (10:07)
Nancy Pelosi: (10:07)
Speaker 1: (10:09)
Chuck Schumer said that Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh would “Pave price promoting against abortion rights.” Were those comments appropriate in your opinion?
Nancy Pelosi: (10:20)
I believe he also said, on the floor today, that his words were not appropriate and I support him in that. It’s unfortunate because as you see, I think the Republicans say it’s okay if the President does it, but it’s not okay if other people do it. It wasn’t right for anybody to do it. And Chuck recognized those words. Yes, Nancy?
Speaker 2: (10:42)
Madam Speaker, do you feel you have gotten a full explanation at this point for why the US was so much slower to get test kits out the door than some other countries?
Nancy Pelosi: (10:52)
Well, let’s just say, right now in China, I’ve been told by some people, that in China they are saying that this all started in the United States. Well, we know that it did not, but we do know that when it started in China, there was a delay in informing the Chinese and the world as to what was happening. At the same time, the President would say, “Heck of a job, President Xi. He was making that he was such a great leader who’s going to take care of this as soon as the weather warmed up. But I think that part of the problem was lack of notice in a timely, responsible, scientific fashion as to what was existing. Then our exposure to it. We weren’t ready in terms of the advisories that were being put forth by the CDC saying, “You only test somebody if they just had a trip to China or if they’re old and have diabetes or something like that.” Well, that was not the appropriate guidance. They had know that they had to correct that. So let’s talk about…
Nancy Pelosi: (12:03)
They had know that they had to correct that. So let’s talk about the future. Let’s say that many of the tests were not good enough. The analysis is still in some cases taking too long, but was not an appropriate time fashion to let people know you should go quarantine or you should go to work and the list goes on. But what we think we can do in this bill, is to correct a lot a great deal of that and then to go forward. Now again, we can go through a whole list of things, that in 2018 the President shut down office, the part of the national security council that deals with this issue, just shut it down, never appointed other people in the role. In his budget, he cut out 700 billion, excuse me, $700 million for CDC. And when they asked, he said, “I just don’t like having a lot of employees around when we need them, we’ll get them back.”
Nancy Pelosi: (12:59)
Well no, they are doing a job and we have to recognize the value of their worth and have them trust the fact that they will not be here today, gone tomorrow and “Oh, don’t get another job because we made hire you back later.” So I think there were some mistakes that were made, but not so much to dwell on them, but to go into the future and say, “We can’t do that.” The people who are there in the Obama administration, in the National Security Council and related agencies who were there for this particular purpose. Quite frankly, if you want to see a template about how to deal with such an epidemic as Ebola, look to what the Obama administration did. It was picture perfect. It was really excellent in terms of how to husband and allocate resources, also talent. Talent, to put some of our scientists in a place where we could really evaluate what the epidemiologys, what are the prospects for more people catching it, what can we do about that? Much of that was erased in the Trump administration.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:08)
I think the reality of this, even if the President thinks it’s 15 when it’s 65, or whatever it was that day, I think the reality is in the public domain, thanks to many of you and hopefully some of the people in the Trump administration. So right now it’s about how we go forward, recognizing that we were on a path wasn’t working, but not blaming it on somebody else, but taking responsibility for it now.
Speaker 3: (14:40)
Are you interested in investigating what went wrong?
Nancy Pelosi: (14:43)
We just want to get people well, right? We just right now want to make sure that this does not spread and that that people get well as we go forward from this, though we should have after action review and say, “How can we be better poised for how we go forward?” But this is… We have simply no idea of how much this may spread. So our focus has to be on stopping the spread and curing people. And so that means we also have to invest as we do very heavily in our bill and a vaccine or to help prevent. But that takes time also and the pharmaceuticals that will… the therapies that will help and possibly cure. One thing we did in the bill was to try to ensure, we weren’t 100% successful of that, that the prices that were charged by the private sector for any vaccine or other therapies would be reasonable and fair. That is how the federal government contracts, reasonable and fair, and not have an exploitation by the private sector of the taxpayer or of the patients.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:54)
We were only able to succeed with that in the public sector piece of the bill. We fought till the end to get it in the private sector, so that people with insurance and the rest would not be subjected to any price gouging. Hopefully they won’t be, but we wanted to ensure that they wouldn’t be. So again, the research that goes into the vaccine, the rest, you have to make sure you have the resources so that you can with certainty, continue the research, keep the people employed who are doing that great work. And when we reign this in and hopefully that will be soon, but who knows? Then we can do an after action review as to what we need to be fully prepared, because it is an insurance policy. And insurance is something you have in case you need it, but it isn’t something you have because you know you’re going to need it because nobody would be in the insurance business. [crosstalk 00:16:51] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Speaker 4: (16:58)
What are your concerns about the threat in this building? I know you’ve met with the other congressional leaders yesterday about the maritime operations. This is a very different work environment, people come to visit the Capitol, there are constituents coming and going. What do you see as the potential here and how that could impact congressional operations if this got worse?
Nancy Pelosi: (17:18)
We are a place where many people come, especially at this time of the year in the spring. So what we want to do is to make sure that our visitors, our press, our staff and our members take the precautions necessary or in their own lives or wherever they do live, but especially when they come to a place like this where many people come together. So some of what we were briefed on yesterday is in a classified nature, some not. And some of it is just about good hygiene and washing down your tabletop and washing your hands for 20 minutes and sneezing into a tissue and throwing it away, that kind of thing. And that is part of the briefing that we receive from the Capitol physician’s office, but from the Capitol police, we were assured that initiative…
Nancy Pelosi: (18:15)
And I think this will be a public document, but I know it’s not classified, what I’m going to tell you now, is that we, in case God forbid, but in case there is a need for people to work from home, that all of the offices and what I mean, not only congressional offices, but offices that serve the purpose of the Capitol will have the technology up-to-date in order to do that. Not everybody in our offices is at the same level of sophistication and all of that, but to make sure everybody is good enough in case we have to work from home. We can’t vote from home, however. And so it’s about security. It’s not about testing everybody who comes into the building, that’s not realistic. But it is also hopefully that the message that goes out more globally, is that people will be more responsible about their own preventative measures.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:16)
And I don’t know, one thing they’d said the other day was, “Don’t hug anybody who’s sick.” Okay. “Stay home if you’re sick.” Okay. “Sneeze in a tissue and throw it away.” Okay. “Wash your hands for 20 seconds.” Or does it 24? Better make sure, do 24 just in case, with soap and those kinds of things. I think we’re going to be develop some good habits as we go forward. But some of that sounds very basic and mundane, but it does prevent the spread. And again, the police chief gave us a presentation about what was being done to make sure that the police, the security that protects the Capitol, is secure as well. And so again, the leadership of the Capitol is always concerned about the security of the Capitol. And now it is coming down more in terms of not only security but the health security.
Speaker 4: (20:17)
Nancy Pelosi: (20:19)
No, no. But let me say, we heard from the office of the Capitol physician, we heard from the clerk of the house, we heard from the chief of police, that’s separate from the Sergeant at Arms and the presentations. There were some others, the architect of the Capitol and the rest, as to just logistics and under whose auspices certain things fell. But it will be ready should something come along, but what we mostly do is pray.
Speaker 5: (20:53)
Nancy Pelosi: (20:54)
Speaker 5: (20:55)
Last week you said that you talked to Vice President Pence and you didn’t think that he was up to the job of managing the administration’s response. After meeting with him yesterday and through your experience over the last week, has your opinion on that changed at all?
Nancy Pelosi: (21:09)
Well, I don’t know if I said he wasn’t up to the response. I was just saying that I had concerns because of his experience and not being up to the task as Governor of Indiana, when it came to the HIV-AIDS challenge that he had there. Think the record is very poor there and concerned that his own director of health policy there is now the Surgeon General of the United States. Again, we’re in a new setting, a new urgency, another set of scientists, some with more experience than others, in the public sector, all with some experience. And so hopefully they will listen to the scientist. As I’ve said, I’ve had confidence in Dr. Foushee, he has confidence in others. But I think we have a sufficient number of answers of, “I’ll get back to you,” that we are continuing our vigilance.
Speaker 6: (22:00)
Nancy Pelosi: (22:01)
Speaker 6: (22:01)
Next March 15th FISA authorities expire. Would you… Some of your members-
Nancy Pelosi: (22:06)
FISA, you said?
Speaker 6: (22:06)
The FISA authorities expire. Some of your members are willing to see it expire. Are you willing to see them expire?
Nancy Pelosi: (22:11)
Speaker 6: (22:11)
And secondly, some of your members also want to hold individuals who defied the subpoenas or the impeachment probe in contempt. Are you willing to see-
Nancy Pelosi: (22:19)
Is that two different questions? Are we allowing people to have two different completely different questions or-
Speaker 7: (22:24)
Nancy Pelosi: (22:24)
… should we move on to another person? Let me just start with FISA. That’s my wheel house intelligence, I’ve been there for almost all of the FISA legislation and the rest. No, we have to have an extent… Not an extension, we have to have a reauthorization of FISA. We’re having our own negotiations within our own group, but also among the Democrats and vis-a-vis the Republicans. And as I said, we’re hoping that we could be ready for something next week, but we will come to the floor when we’re ready. I was very much opposed to putting a FISA bill on the coronavirus bill. I mean really? If I had my objections to the FISA bill, as you’ve mentioned some do, but if I want to vote for a Corona virus supplemental, I have to vote for FISA. We’re not putting people in that kind of a situation. And what was the second one?
Speaker 6: (23:17)
Contempt, holding individuals in contempt that defied your subpoena-
Nancy Pelosi: (23:19)
That’s not… Right now, we’re trying to save lives, prevent a disease from spreading. We had enough to challenge us with getting a supplemental that the Republicans would agree to, of the size that we needed. That doesn’t mean we abandon any of our responsibilities to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and that congressional oversight will always continue.
Speaker 6: (23:44)
Nancy Pelosi: (23:45)
Speaker 8: (23:45)
I wonder if you have any reflection, excuse me, to this being a two person race now and Elizabeth Warren-
Nancy Pelosi: (23:49)
He wants to talk politics, under the dome of the Capitol.
Speaker 8: (23:53)
Who would do that?
Speaker 7: (23:53)
Speaker 8: (23:59)
[crosstalk 00:23:59] And Elizabeth Warren dropping out, if you do have any-
Nancy Pelosi: (24:02)
Is this Civics? Are we talking Civics here?
Speaker 8: (24:03)
…And Elizabeth Warren dropping out.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:03)
Civics? Are we talking civics here? [crosstalk 00:24:00] What about it?
Speaker 8: (24:03)
Do you have any [inaudible 00:24:00] on your party’s race being down to two people and Elizabeth Warren dropping out?
Nancy Pelosi: (24:03)
Yeah, dropping out, that was interesting, wasn’t it?
Speaker 8: (24:14)
Nancy Pelosi: (24:15)
All of it [crosstalk 00:24:16]. That being the last part, the Elizabeth part. That was interesting. My daughter is such an avid supporter of women that I don’t know if she’s going to be in a place today, my daughter Christine, but in any case, as we all are. But nonetheless, that was her focus. Here’s the thing, I’m so proud to be a Democrat, because to be a Democrat is to respect other opinion, including even Republican opinion. But the beautiful diversity in our caucus has always been our strength. And as I say, our diversity is our strength, but our unity is our power. And as we respect each other’s point of views on some of these subjects, we have to realize that whatever differences we have are minor, compared to the chasm between us and the president of the United States.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:08)
So when we come together, I may have said to you before that we would madly embrace whoever the nominee of the party is. That’s what I said last week. This week, I say we will madly elbow bump. We’re not embracing anybody. But it’s exciting, and to have a difference of opinion as to role of government and where you come down on one way or another, is again the vitality, the democratic way. I hope that we won’t have any, and having disagreements is, otherwise, only one of us needs to show up, right, if everybody thought alike. But we don’t, and we represent our different regions, our different philosophies, our different ethnicities, all the rest. And so I’m encouraged by the debate that is taking place, that I hope will take place, now with clarity of between two people. I mean, I wouldn’t have objected if other people were still in the race, but to take advantage of the opportunity that is having a two party race is … But again, make no mistake, we are for the winner, the person who wins our nomination, and we respect what the public has to say about that.
Speaker 9: (26:26)
Nancy Pelosi: (26:26)
Speaker 10: (26:26)
Speaker 9: (26:27)
What does Elizabeth Warren’s withdraw from this race say about the willingness of Americans and the Democratic party to put a woman at the top of the ticket, see her be president?
Nancy Pelosi: (26:39)
I so wish, every time I get introduced as the most powerful woman, I almost cry, because I’m thinking I wish that were not true. I so wish that we had a woman president of the United States, and we came very close to doing that, a woman who was better qualified than so many people who have sought that office and even won it. But I think the American people are ready. I never thought we would have a woman Speaker of the House before a woman president. Because if you want to talk about tradition, or whatever that is, this is a marble ceiling. It’s not a glass ceiling. So I always thought that would be something that the public would be much more ready for than the members of Congress. Well, then we won.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:28)
I think we had great candidates. They represented different points of view. Amy, more moderate and Middle America, heartland of America, articulate spokesperson for her point of view. Was so proud of her. Also Elizabeth, to get down to the final two who were still in the race. Elizabeth, so knowledgeable and the rest. It’s just, I don’t know whether men think about being president from the day they’re born and start running then. But I don’t know that women do that, and maybe we should, somebody should. But I think the American people are ready for it. It’s a competition. You run, and you make your pitch, and people respond to it. I do think there is, well, it’s a whole other subject for another day, but you and I do not have time for right now, because I have to go to Georgetown and talk about women and power, and how important that is.
Nancy Pelosi: (28:24)
But I do think there’s a certain element of misogyny that is there, and some of it isn’t really mean spirited, it just isn’t their experience. Many of them will tell you they had a strong mom, they have strong sisters, they have strong daughters, but they have their own insecurities, I guess you would say. So I know, I think America’s ready for a woman president. And I think that Kamala, I mean, all of them. How many did we have? We had Kamala and Kelsey, I mean Tulsi. [crosstalk 00:29:00] Kelsey’s my scheduler. Are you running, Kelsey? Tulsi, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris.
Speaker 11: (29:07)
Nancy Pelosi: (29:08)
Williamson. We had a wide range. Of course Amy and Elizabeth. And I think they all comported themselves very well, with purpose, this is why I’m running. Knowledge, this is what I know the most about and I have judgment on. Strategic thinking about how to get something done, and they connected well with the American people. And now the question is, what is their political base and how do you expand that? And just to get into the race doesn’t mean you have a political base. So if there’s going to be a woman president, those who might be thinking in that direction should be making decisions in favor of it rather than just going into a race because there is one.
Speaker 12: (29:58)
None of those candidates are going to be at the top of the ticket. They’re not going to be president this time. So when you speak at Georgetown on women in power…
Nancy Pelosi: (30:08)
Come on over and you will hear what I have to say.
Speaker 12: (30:11)
What would you say? Why are they not going to be, why were they rejected?
Nancy Pelosi: (30:15)
I don’t think they were rejected. I think that, I guess being a woman in all of this, and when I ran for a leadership position, the worst thing I could have ever said to anybody or any of my supporters could say to anybody is we should be for Nancy because we should have a woman. Loser proposition. Winning proposition is we should be for Nancy because she’d be the best one to do the job. So again, what is the job? The job is president of the United States, leader of the free world, commander-in-chief, with all the authority that goes with Article Two of the Constitution, but not all of the authority of Article One, Two, and Three, but Article Two. And that’s very big. In other countries, because they have parliamentary systems, you know, people say, “Well, they had it here and they had it there.” But they have parliamentary systems. Your party has to win, and you have to win in the party. So it’s different than winning an electoral college in the United States. I don’t think it’s necessarily in most cases a fair comparison, in size, as well. We’re so big.
Nancy Pelosi: (31:26)
But I think that those candidates, all of them helped be trailblazers for a woman, and maybe one of them will be that person in another election several years from now, however many years from now. So I think, I see everything as an opportunity. We have an opportunity, because these women put themselves out there. We have an opportunity, because Hillary Clinton did in such a way that was so strong, and she led the way for these women to go. And now other women will be thinking about it earlier, though, not just getting in the race, but preparing for it. And again, we have many distinguished women governors in the country, and that executive experience counts for something. And again, people have to know you, and that’s what I think is with these two candidates. People knew them best. One had run before, and Joe Biden had been Vice President, you know, and all of his credentials. That knowing some, knowing people is helpful, as well.
Nancy Pelosi: (32:35)
So what we have to do is advance women and have standing on issues like national security, and they do. Women having standing on national, the economy, not just, okay, we’re going to take care of the soft issues. No, they’re important, and to the strength of America, but there are other broader issues. Because we do believe that when women succeed, America succeeds, and that there’s nothing more wholesome for the political process or a government or anything than having more women participate and be in the leadership of it. But I don’t think you get a woman president by saying we should have a woman. You get a woman president saying this is the best person for the job, and any one of them could have fulfilled that description. Thank you.
Speaker 8: (33:31)
Speaker 13: (33:31)
Do you think women voters, or do you think Democratic voters were afraid that a woman candidate would lose to President Trump?
Nancy Pelosi: (33:35)
No, no, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I think anybody can beat President Trump.
Speaker 13: (33:40)
Thank you. [crosstalk 00:33:43]