Sep 23, 2021
Nancy Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Transcript September 23: Debt Ceiling Lift
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference on September 23, 2021 with Chuck Schumer and Janet Yellen to discuss lifting the debt ceiling. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Speaker Pelosi: (00:00)
… that you may have after, but first I want to acknowledge the special guests we have with us. As you know, we are moving in closing some of the discussions that we have had on the legislation to honor the president of the United States’ vision for our country to build back better. And you probably have an announcement or shortly will that the budget committee is going to be marking up the bill in a timely fashion in time for us to send it to the rules committee for consideration. To that end, a very important part of all of this of the pay fors, how we want to build back better in a way that is fiscally sound.
Speaker Pelosi: (00:44)
This morning, we met with the chairs of the committee, Chairman Wyden and Chairman Neil along with representatives of the White House. It was a great honor for me to welcome the secretary of the treasury, a person I have long admired and to have the benefit of her wisdom and judgment in the discussions that we had. And Leader Schumer and I were a part of a discussion that he will report on. Mr. Schumer?
Leader Schumer: (01:15)
Thank you. First, I would note before just telling you exactly what happened, that Brooklyn is two thirds of this podium.
Speaker Pelosi: (01:25)
Leader Schumer: (01:25)
Speaker Pelosi: (01:27)
But the secretary has a connection to University of California-Berkeley.
Leader Schumer: (01:35)
Fort Hamilton High School, James Madison High School. Okay. I have a brief sentence. And that is that the White House, the House, and the Senate have reached agreement on a framework that will pay for any final negotiated agreement. So the revenue side of this, we have an agreement on. Okay. Thank you. It’s a framework, an agreement of a framework. Okay. Thanks.
Speaker Pelosi: (02:06)
Thank you. This is a handshake. Excuse me.
Leader Schumer: (02:06)
Speaker 3: (02:06)
What does that mean, a framework? What does that mean?
Speaker Pelosi: (02:19)
That means we are proceeding, that we’ve made great progress and we’re proceeding. Yeah. And no, but we now went further because there were some specifics. We are in a situation of lamb eat lamb. There’s so many good provisions. What is affordable and what is effective and what gets the best results as soon as possible. So we made great progress this morning because it’s in the writing. You hear everybody coming out and talking about one thing or another, but we are writing legislation. And when you’re writing legislation, you have to be specific. And this took us a long way to a framework.
Speaker Pelosi: (02:58)
Now, again, we always socialize what we’re doing and see among some things what works better and what our actual needs will be. We’ll get more estimates as to how much money comes in on certain things. But we know that we can cover the proposal that the president has put forth to build back better, his vision for our country well beyond the the budget. What are we calling it? Bipartisan infrastructure framework. I’m very excited about this. And again, it’s all good. We had appropriations saying it’s lamb eat lamb, but let me just tell you that as you know, this week we passed legislation to keep government open and lift the debt ceiling, to remove all doubt that the full faith and credit of the United States of America is not in question, as the Constitution of the United States says.
Speaker Pelosi: (03:58)
The Congress has taken up a tradition of having to vote on that. There’s some doubt as to whether that should be the case, but in the here and now we put forth a proposal. The House Republicans voted against keeping governments open, which we need to do by September 30th and voted against honoring the full faith and credit of the United States of America.
Speaker Pelosi: (04:25)
It’s quite appalling because when Republican presidents were there, we always had bipartisan support for that. We sent that bill over to the Senate, depending on what happens there we will keep government open by September 30th, which is our date and continue the conversation about the debt ceiling, but not for long, because any discussion even cast doubt. And when that happened before, when the Republicans threatened not to support the full faith and credit, when President Obama was president, even the doubt that they cast lowered our credit rating. It’s not good for our country, for our families. And it has an impact on the global economy. So whatever it is, we will have a CR that passes both houses by September 30th.
Speaker Pelosi: (05:17)
We are very pleased that in that same legislation, which the Republicans rejected, we had our assistance for the natural disasters affecting some of their own regions, which they voted against. But again, necessary to immediately meet the needs of the American people in time of disaster, as well as the legislation, the appropriations for Afghan evacuees to further welcome them to our country, meet their needs and to do so in a timely fashion. We’ve gotten such a tremendous response from areas affected by Hurricane Ida, which is the focus of this legislation to say, Ida struck, and you already are putting forth funding to make our communities come as close to whole as possible. Very grateful.
Speaker Pelosi: (06:09)
Again, when we talk about climb of the debt ceiling, we’re not talking about future spending. It’s important to note, this is to pay the incurred cost. Last year, Democrats and Republicans together incurred costs for COVID that need to be paid for. This is a credit card bill that we owe under President Trump. Only 3% of the debts of the cost that we’re dealing, only 3% have occurred under the Biden administration.
Speaker Pelosi: (06:40)
This is largely under the Trump administration. And again, Democratic or Republican president, we have to lift the debt ceiling. So when Trump was president, he increased the debt by $7.8 trillion. Now we take participation in the COVID expenses, but not the tax scam that added at least $2 trillion to the national debt. So again, we’ve done it before. We’ve worked in a bipartisan way. It’s always been bipartisan and that’s how we want to keep it again. It could cost 6 million jobs, wipe out $15 trillion in household wealth, nearly doubling the unemployment rate into 9%, and increase borrowing cost for all Americans. It would be a catastrophe, and don’t take it from me, but let me just quote Mitch McConnell when this came up during the Trump years.
Speaker Pelosi: (07:37)
Mitch McConnell said the following. Mitch McConnell stated that not supporting a debt limit suspension, and this is what he said, “ensures that Congress will not throw this kind of unnecessary wrench into the gear of our job growth and thriving economy.” When Trump was president, they didn’t want to throw an unnecessary wrench into the gear of our job growth. Today, he’s threatening to do just that. We urge him to stop holding the debt and the economy hostage.
Speaker Pelosi: (08:12)
Again, also on the floor today, we’re doing NDAA, strengthen our security, honoring our service members, upholding our values. And today, we’ll have legislation on the security interests that we have in the Middle East, by putting additional funding for the [inaudible 00:08:36]. It’s a defensive system. It’s part of the memorandum of understanding and negotiate in 2016, and it will strengthen that support. So again, we stand united on a bipartisan, bicameral basis for real security, which is vital for American security.
Speaker Pelosi: (08:54)
Again, we pray for every innocent life that is lost in the conflict on any side of these arguments. Tomorrow led by Congresswoman Chu, we’re passing the Women’s Health Protection Act. So this is a very exciting day for some of us in the Congress of the United States. We’ve long been supporters of Roe V. Wade. We haven’t been able to codify it because we never had a Democratic pro-choice majority with a Democratic president, and now we do. And now we do. Every woman everywhere has a constitutional right to basic reproductive health. Yet for years, that has been questioned by some. And so you know about the Texas law and the rest of that, I don’t have to go into the reason why we have to do this, but the Texas law goes beyond a discussion of a woman’s right to choose.
Speaker Pelosi: (09:47)
It’s about vigilantes and bounty hunters and something that is so unAmerican. And it has evoked a response. Okay. It’s unconstitutional and unjust. Okay. And then yesterday, this is probably why you’re all here today, Leader Schumer and I met with the president about Build Back Better Legislation. And it is so exciting. It’s going to do so for our country. One of the biggest middle class tax cuts for families ever, creating millions of good paying jobs, unleashing the full power of women in the workplace. Again, when women succeed, America succeeds, that’s what we say. Now, if you’re a woman in the workplace, this bill’s for you, even for some dads. Child care, child tax credit, help pay the bills, universal pre-K, home healthcare. Not necessarily for a child, could be for a person with disabilities or a senior in the home who needs personal attention. Family and medical leave, paid family and medical leave.
Speaker Pelosi: (11:09)
So it’s, again, unleashing the power of women in the workplace in a way that has never been done before in country. It’s historic, it’s transformative. And when COVID struck, more than 4 million women had to withdraw from the workplace because they didn’t have childcare or they couldn’t afford childcare, or the schools were not open so they had to stay home and some dads too. So it’s not just about women, but overwhelmingly it is. So it is addressing some of that. We knew this problem existed, but COVID made it even more apparent. Hence, we will be going down a path that enables women to do what they’re doing. [inaudible 00:12:02]. You’ve heard me say before, it’s Latin, do what you’re doing. Their work, they can give their full attention without worrying. We always think of our families and our children worrying minute by minute, as to whether their children are safely cared for.
Speaker Pelosi: (12:16)
What I’m excited about in the bill that is coming up too, is what it does for the environment. This is transformational. I use that word about women in the workplace. It’s transformational. The president has established some goals for protecting the environment and saving the planet. And this legislation does just that in a way, as we were honored by the secretary of the treasury and the leader of the Senate earlier, that is paid for. So it’s pretty exciting. We have plans that are not punitive to those… We don’t resent anyone their success or their achievement, but we do want everyone to pay their fair share and in doing so help build our economy better with women in the workplace. So that’s pretty exciting for us.
Speaker Pelosi: (13:07)
Yesterday, I had the privilege of welcoming to heads of state, Boris Johnson. Maybe some of you were at that press presentation with Boris Johnson, Prime Minister Johnson. And then later in the day in the morning, same morning with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia.
Speaker Pelosi: (13:28)
Why I bring it up in association with climate is that they were so exuberant about the urgency of addressing the climate issues. Of course, we thanked the prime minister of UK for hosting COP-26. I just had the privilege of doing that at 10 Downing over the weekend, when I was at the D7 of parliament and to see what was happening there in preparation for the COP-26, but then he made a presentation to our bipartisan leadership of his priorities and strongly, strongly, strongly talking about what the UK was doing in terms of climate. And the prime minister of Australia, Morrison, he was saying we’re not only addressing the Paris Accords. Our slogan is we meet it and we beat it. And so, they’re leading the way. And that’s what we all have to do is meet our emissions responsibility and our financial responsibility to other countries.
Speaker Pelosi: (14:37)
So when we leave COP-26, having fulfilled our obligations to the Paris Accords, and then to go further. It’s a health issue for our children, clean air, clean water. It’s a jobs issue for our country, green technologies being preeminent in the world on those. It’s a security issue because security experts tell us that migrations and the rest, rising sea levels, thermal management of the planet, drying up of rivers, encroachment of deserts. The list goes on, you know what they all are I think, that is caused for competition and conflict over habitat and resources. So it’s a security issue. Health, jobs, security, and of course a moral issue if you believe, as I do that, this is God’s creation and we have a moral obligation to be good stewards. But even if you don’t share that view, we all agree that we have a responsibility to our children, grandchildren, future generations to hand off the planet in a very responsible way.
Speaker Pelosi: (15:42)
So a lot going on, from a woman’s right to choose to preserving the planet and central focus now on getting the job done that we’re on a path to do. The president has given us a path for a better future for our country, of a fairness and justice, whether it’s economic or environmental justice or whatever. I’m so proud of our members working this, working it, working it, writing the bills, having their own discussions about it all. But the president put us on a course. We intend to stay the course and pass both of these bills as soon as possible. Any questions. I probably should reward people who come here most, and then we’ll go to others.
Speaker 4: (16:40)
Can you please first elaborate on what Senator Schumer just said? He said that you have reached an agreement on a framework-
Speaker Pelosi: (16:43)
Framework, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Speaker 4: (16:45)
Does that mean house Democrats and progressives and moderates have agreed on tax rates, how much this bill costs, and a price tag?
Speaker Pelosi: (16:55)
No. What we said was the House, the Senate, and the White House came to an agreement on how we can go forward in a way to pay for this. I don’t know how you define some of the terms you use loosely there, but overwhelmingly our new Dem coalition, which a long segment of our moderates represented us at the meeting yesterday have been very strong on child tax credit, extending the Affordable Care Act subsidies and the rest. The list goes on. Though, we have consensus and overwhelmingly maybe 10 to one, 20 to one in our caucus as to these priorities. A higher percentage in the Senate, but we wanted to make sure that it was paid for. And I’m a pay go person, pay as you go.
Speaker Pelosi: (17:55)
Sometimes I have a little disagreement in my caucus with some who just don’t necessarily think we should do that, but I do. And we came to terms as to a framework of an array of agreements that we have, depending on what the need is. Now at the same time, we’re finalizing on the outlay side. So if we need more, we need less, that will impact the choices we make there. But this was great progress, not in terms of… It’s just that it’s writing bills and it takes time and you have to make decisions. And that’s what we did.
Speaker 4: (18:34)
Have you [crosstalk 00:18:34] price tag?
Speaker Pelosi: (18:34)
No. No. We didn’t talk about that. This is not about price tag. This is about what’s in the bill, what’s in the bill for children. What’s in the bill? Universal pre-K, childcare, child tax credit, medical leave for their families, protecting the planet for them. It’s about specific legislation. How much does that cost? How do we pay for it?
Speaker Pelosi: (19:00)
It’s about the climate issues, as I ended on that. On the climate issues, in terms of using the tax code to stimulate the business aspects of this to meet the emissions goals. And that’s part of how we make some decisions in there. Does this use of the tax cut help meet the president’s emission goals that we have as a nation? So it’s not about a price tag or anything. It’s about value, not dollars. And when we come to agreements on what people are for or what they would cut, if they want to do this. What would you cut? But our goal is to have a very specific priorities clearly presented with as close as possible results as possible. And I’m very, very proud of the work of our members on that score. Yes, Chad?
Thank you for taking the question. You have the treasury secretary here. I suspect you’ve been talking about the debt ceiling. You’ve expressed concern there. It seems as though every time we get so close to the debt ceiling, and we hear all of these horror stories about the foment of the apocalypse and locus and everything.
Speaker Pelosi: (20:17)
It is that. Yeah.
But why would we think that that wouldn’t happen this time? I know the position of the Republicans, the public position, but why would we not think that this is going to be different this time?
Speaker Pelosi: (20:26)
Well, because again, public sentiment is everything. The Republicans yesterday, they voted to shut down government and not honor the full faith and credit of the United States of America. Shutting down government at the same time is rejecting assistance for their own constituents who are affected by Hurricane Ida. Again, we’ll keep government open. We’ll have the votes to do that. And then we’ll go to the Senate again, but the full faith and credit is a national debate. It’s a national debate.
Speaker Pelosi: (21:06)
And why should it be that we as Democrats always come to the rescue when it’s a Republican president. And we’re not coming the rescue of the president, we’re coming a rescue of our economy, of families and the interest they pay on loans and their job security and the rest of that. That’s the debate that we have to have. And we must succeed. And so again, hopefully with your messaging this on Fox News, you will get a lot of people writing into their people and saying let’s not renig on the national debt. It’s about paying. The former president was famous for not paying his bills and they want to do that again, but we cannot let them do that and jeopardize our economy. Yes ma’am?
Speaker 6: (21:54)
How do you guarantee that there won’t be a shutdown, especially-
Speaker Pelosi: (21:57)
Speaker 6: (21:58)
How do you guarantee there won’t be a shutdown, especially if Republicans end up blocking this bill in its current form?
Speaker Pelosi: (22:06)
Well, we put this bill together in a very bipartisan way, and then when we added the debt ceiling is when they said… Because Rosa [inaudible 00:22:17], our chairwoman, she very respectful… I’m appropriator. So we have a certain culture of bipartisanship or finding solutions there. And it’s a very bipartisan bill underneath the debt ceiling. So we don’t think it will really be any problem to pass the legislation.
Speaker 7: (22:38)
Thank you, Madam Speaker. With the announcement of this framework, are you confident that you have enough support within your own party to move forward with a vote on Monday?
Speaker Pelosi: (22:46)
We take it one day at a time, but I’m confident that we will pass both bills on Monday. Yes, sir?
Speaker 8: (22:51)
I just wanted to ask you about the Women’s Healthcare Protection Act. The Archdiocese of San Francisco and the Archbishop of San Francisco warns that the bill is nothing more than a child’s sacrifice. And he calls on Catholics to fast and pray to beat this bill. You’re Catholic, your reaction?
Speaker Pelosi: (23:06)
Yeah. I’m Catholic. I come from a pro-life family. Not active in that regard. Different in their view of a woman’s right to choose than I am. In my right to choose, I had five children in six years and one week. And I keep saying to people who say things like that, when you have five children in six years in one day, we can talk about what businesses of any of us to tell anyone else to do. For us, it was a complete and total blessing, which we enjoy every day of our lives, but it’s none of our business how other people choose the size and timing of their families. The Archbishop of the city of that area of San Francisco and I have a disagreement about who should decide this. I believe that God has given us a free will to honor our responsibilities. Yes, ma’am? Yes, ma’am?
Speaker 9: (24:09)
Are you saying with this new framework, that the bill will not be $3.5 trillion?
Speaker Pelosi: (24:14)
No, I’m not saying that at all.
Speaker 9: (24:15)
Are you guaranteeing that this bill will be done on Monday?
Speaker Pelosi: (24:20)
I’m not saying that. I’m saying we will bring our legislation forward, as it is ready. We didn’t say anything about what the framework was, the price tag. We’re talking about the values contained there in. We are for the 3.5 number, because that’s the number that the president and the Senate sent us. We marked up to that, and now we’ll go to the next step. But I think we’re in a very good place. I’ve always been very calm about this because it always happens the same way, all this bluster and this and that, and who’s there and who’s there. But at the end of the day, we will be unified for the American people. And we couldn’t be better led than by Joe Biden and his vision. His vision for America’s working families, so that we have fairness in our economy and justice in our environment, as well as in our economy in every other way. And that we open the door for women to succeed in the workplace. So one day at a time. Thank you all very much. Thank you.