Oct 21, 2021
Nancy Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Transcript October 21
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference on October 21, 2021. She discussed the voting rights act. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (10:21)
Morning, everyone. As you probably observed earlier this week, we had a moment of silence on the floor for over 700,000 people, what’s now up to almost 725,000 people who have died of COVID in the United States. This issue always is the top of our agenda in the work that we do here. I know there’s lots of attention to other legislation that goes on, but this is an important priority for us. Last weekend when I was in G7 and G20, G7, and NATO, the COVID issue loomed large on the global scene as well. Just now, we had a caucus … Actually, it was a whip meeting under Mr. Clyburn’s leadership who chairs our COVID select committee with report on what we’re doing domestically, what we’re doing globally, but it just continues to be a preeminent concern for us in the Congress as it is a preeminent concern for the American people. That’s the reports we get back from our members from their districts.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:34)
We know that and we want to praise the president for his exceptional leadership in addressing these concerns, vaccines in arms, money in people’s pockets, safety in the workplace, children going back to school, all impacted by governance and science in this regard. At the same time, we have a global responsibility and we know that and we certainly are doing a lot, but we have to do more. So here we are down through the stretch. I’m from Maryland. Horseracing. Sports, sports, sports. Now, horseracing. You get to the … We’re almost to the stretch. We’ve rounded the turn and we’re almost to the stretch and we’re making great progress to our goal of securing framework agreement for Build Back Better in a timely fashion. It’s going to be … Although it’s a smaller bill, it’s still historic, transformational, and will make an enormous difference in the lives of America’s working families.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:38)
Again, in the healthcare arena, we have lowering healthcare costs by reducing prescription drug prices. That’s part of our goal, expanding Medicaid in states that did not accept the expansion before, strengthening the ACA and improving Medicare, taking us to nearly universal coverage in our country. Another bucket is the family care piece of that, children learning, parents earning, especially moms, but dads too who have responsibilities in the home with the Child Tax Credit. Childcare/universal pre-K, they go together, home healthcare, paid family medical leave, workplace development, and housing to name a few of the aspects of that. Again, very important to our children. These are jobs issues. Health and jobs, family issues and jobs, and now climate, helping achieve the president’s vision to cut emissions in half by 2030, advancing environmental justice. That’s a very important part of all of this for the president, justice and creating good-paying clean energy jobs.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:53)
So it’s about the health of our children, the air they breathe, water they drink. It’s about jobs, creating good-paying green jobs to make us preeminent in the world. It’s about a security issue as our experts, our security experts tell us competition for habitat and resources and time of drought and the rest and the migration, it contributes to other natural disasters. It’s a national security issue and of course always a moral issue to pass this planet in the best possible way onto future generations. Children understand that much better than some of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle in fact.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:39)
So this Build Back Better achieves better future for workers, their families, and their children, creating good-paying jobs, giving a tax cut, a big tax cut to the middle class, lowering costs for families, and making the wealthiest and corporations pay their fair share. So this legislation will be paid for. In fact, it may be more than paid for. Again, it’s transformative, it’s historic, it’s life-changing, and it will pass soon.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:12)
Again, everything that the congressional Democrats do is our title for the people, but sadly, Senate Republicans continue to stand in the way. Yesterday, yesterday was such a sad day. Senate Republicans voted to aid and abet the most dangerous campaign of voter suppression since Jim Crow as they blocked a vote on the Freedom to Vote Act, hurting their own constituents and dishonoring the sanctity of the vote and our Constitution. The stakes could not be higher. State lawmakers have introduced 425 voter suppression bills in 49 states in the 2021 sessions alone. A number of them have become law and they must be overturned, and this legislation would do that. It would not undo voter suppression laws, but it would end their vote nullification laws. They’re there to overturn the results of an election. Really?
Nancy Pelosi: (16:20)
House Democrats have passed HR1 which is now the bill that I mentioned in the Senate, the Freedom to Vote Act, as modified in the Senate. It’s a good bill. HR4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and today when I leave here, I’ll go out this door and go to the 10th anniversary of MLK Memorial Dedication, MLK Memorial. 10 years it’s been. Imagine Martin Luther King 58 years ago, nearly 60 years ago when he stood near that place and talked about justice and democracy and the beautiful speech, the I Had a Dream speech, and his fierce urgency of now. Now, Martin Luther King is there on the Mall, as John Lewis called it America’s front yard, with Washington and Lincoln and Jefferson, presidents of the United States and Reverend Martin Luther King. So we’ll go down there and honoring Dr. King of course, being inspired by his work and words to protect the ballot.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:28)
Meanwhile here on the Hill, the select committee on January 6th continues its work this week unanimously on a bipartisan basis, voting to hold one of the past president’s advisors to contempt for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena. The committee is seeking information from Bannon that is central to the investigative and legislative purpose to investigate the January 6th domestic terrorist attack that was intended to interfere with the peaceful constitutional transfer of power and then see what legislation is necessary that springs from that. According to published reports, Bannon had specific knowledge about the events of January 6th before they occurred and had multiple roles relevant to the attack and very outspoken about it. Today on the floor of the House, we’ll vote to approve this contempt resolution led by the committee to find the truth.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:36)
Okay. So everything that … Again, we’ve got everything the congressional … The sanctity of the vote, the assault on the Constitution, and meeting the needs of the people. We have a busy, busy few days here. Any questions?
Speaker 1: (18:54)
Madame Speaker. Madame Speaker. Madame Speaker.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:55)
Yes. Go ahead.
Speaker 3: (18:55)
On Bannon, why is it important that Republicans vote to hold him in contempt?
Nancy Pelosi: (19:01)
Because they take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. The genius of our Constitution and of our founders was the separation of power, checks and balances. If in fact you want to negate the ability of one check of another branch of government over another, then you are undermining the Constitution. So this goes beyond Bannon in terms of its importance and you would think that if they take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, they would vote for the system of checks and balances.
Speaker 1: (19:37)
Madame Speaker. Madame Speaker. Madame Speaker.
Speaker 4: (19:39)
I’m curious if you think a package like this can be completed without rate increases, tax rate increases.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:46)
Oh, we changed the subject?
Speaker 4: (19:47)
Nancy Pelosi: (19:51)
Well that’s one of the options. That’s for sure. The last couple days … Just to answer your question, the last couple of days, we’ve come to … We’re narrowing what the possibilities are as we see what we need to cover because the bill will be paid for. So what are the choices that will be made? We met yesterday morning to narrow what needs to be done and the chairman of the finance committee, Mr. Wyden, and the chairman of ways and means committee, Mr. Neal, have been working to that end. We had in our House bill, which I was very proud of, an increase in the corporate rate and an increase in the capital gains in that. It was a very well received proposal because it wasn’t punitive. It was fair, but we’ll see what survives, prevails.
Speaker 4: (20:42)
What’s your preference? Do you have a preference?
Nancy Pelosi: (20:43)
Well my preference is to follow the cooperation that the Senate and House come to.
Speaker 1: (20:49)
Madame Speaker. Madame Speaker.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:50)
Speaker 5: (20:51)
Good morning. Thank you.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:52)
Next one is a woman no matter who.
Speaker 5: (20:58)
So yesterday morning, you said some of the reporting about what was in and out of the bill was not accurate. Is that because this bill is still in flux and does this have to be [inaudible 00:21:07] with Senate before you presented it, everything have to be nailed down with the Senate and with Manchin and Sinema?
Nancy Pelosi: (21:13)
Whatever it is you think I said, what I was saying is that instead of covering what is in the bill, you all seem to be on a jag about a few people. 96% of the House and Senate Democrats support the president’s proposal. You would never know that to see the reporting on it, but that’s your work. You do yours; we do ours. You couldn’t possibly misrepresent because it isn’t done yet and it will be because now we have to narrow the scope and we are in the process of doing that.
Speaker 5: (21:49)
And [inaudible 00:21:49] with the Senate so that everything is signed off here, everything is finalized before you say this-
Nancy Pelosi: (21:53)
Our agreement is that we will have an agreement that we will pass both houses.
Speaker 1: (21:59)
Nancy Pelosi: (21:59)
Speaker 6: (22:00)
Thank you. How critical is it to reach an agreement on a framework by tomorrow? Leader Schumer says he wants to get this done by the end of the week. Are you on track to doing that?
Nancy Pelosi: (22:08)
We’ve always been on track for doing that. The House has been on schedule. We have a goal. We have a timetable. We have milestones and we’ve met them all and this is one of them.
Speaker 6: (22:19)
And on the Child Tax Credit, you talked about the importance of that. Would a one-year extension be sufficient or acceptable to you?
Nancy Pelosi: (22:25)
If that’s what the president has agreed to. Let me just say I want permanent Child Tax Credit. I’ve wanted it for years. This is the president’s big issue. It’s called the Biden Child Tax Credit. So if it’s acceptable to him in light of the bill, it’s acceptable to me.
Speaker 1: (22:45)
Madame Speaker. [crosstalk 00:22:48]. On climate, Madame Speaker.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:48)
On climate, yes.
Speaker 7: (22:49)
Nancy Pelosi: (22:50)
Speaker 7: (22:50)
On climate, the Clean Energy Performance Plan, we’re told on the record by other Democrats, is now out of the bill. Does a final bill have to meet those same emission reductions as was in the original House bill in order for you to accept it?
Nancy Pelosi: (23:08)
The point is to reach the goals, the emission goals of … I think I said that in my remarks, of the reduction to 50% by 2030, reduction by 100% by 2050, maybe even ahead of that. We have a responsibility not only to meet, but to beat, the Paris Agreement goals and we also have a responsibility to help poorer countries with technology and assistance in order for them to meet their goals. Those countries are not responsible for very much of the climate crisis, but they are paying a big price because of their vulnerability. I had the privilege of speaking in Spain right before COVID at the most previous [inaudible 00:23:54] to a session on the vulnerables and those countries in their own presentations show that they pay the price sooner than any of us and yet they’re least responsible for the emissions. So we have that big responsibility.
Speaker 7: (24:12)
So is that a yes?
Nancy Pelosi: (24:12)
So it isn’t about a particular plan. It’s about reaching our goals and how we do it. I feel very satisfied the path we’re on to do that.
Speaker 1: (24:21)
Speaker 8: (24:21)
A tax question. Senator Sinema, from what we understand, has opposed increasing corporate and individual tax rates. Has she conveyed that to you and to follow up on Jake’s question, could this be fully paid for, as you have promised, if her view prevails?
Nancy Pelosi: (24:40)
Well the bill will be fully paid for and the matter is in the hands of our chairs of the finance committee and the ways and means committee.
Speaker 8: (24:48)
Has she conveyed that to you, her position to you?
Nancy Pelosi: (24:51)
Well her position is well-known.
Speaker 1: (24:55)
Speaker 9: (24:57)
So far, Congress has in recent years relied on contempt referrals and civil suits. Why continue to outsource enforcement of Congress’s own authority to the courts? Why not, for instance, advance the Raskin [Lieu 00:25:15] bill to enable Congress’s inherent contempt authority?
Nancy Pelosi: (25:19)
To advance what bill?
Speaker 9: (25:20)
The Raskin-Lieu bill resolution that would enable Congress-
Nancy Pelosi: (25:23)
Well we have a Protect Our Democracy legislation which we will be advancing. It’s bing led by Mr. Adam Schiff and captures many of those concerns, but we don’t take it to court. We subpoena people. They take it to court, but the fact is that’s why we’re going to criminal contempt here because this goes beyond.
Speaker 9: (25:51)
That bill relies on the discretion of the Justice Department.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:55)
That does. That’s the system of checks and balances and again, you will be seeing in November … I don’t have a date that we will be ready to come forward with our Protect Our Democracy legislation and that captures many of the ideas that members have put forth in that regard. I don’t know if the Republicans want to protect our democracy. So far, we haven’t seen a lot of evidence of that, but just in the prospect of maybe one day they think they’ll have a Republican president or we have a Democratic president now and they want to protect our democracy from-
Speaker 9: (26:31)
Nancy Pelosi: (26:32)
You know what? I’m going to tell you something. Have you read the Protect Our Democracy Act?
Speaker 9: (26:35)
Nancy Pelosi: (26:35)
Good. Then you know it addresses many of the concerns that you had. Thank you all very much.
Speaker 10: (26:41)
Madame Speaker, will there be an infrastructure vote next week?