Dec 15, 2022
Pelosi Holds News Briefing in Final Weeks of Her Term as Speaker of The House Transcript
Pelosi Holds News Briefing in Final Weeks of Her Term as Speaker of The House. Read the transcript here.
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Nancy Pelosi (00:00):
As I’ve said to you before, this is such a high priority for our office over time. First day that I came to the Congress in a special election, I was asked to speak on the floor and I talked about being here to fight against HIV and Aids. One of the last bills I signed as speaker in 2010 was the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and now one of the last bills I’ve signed as speaker is the Respect for Marriage Act. Every step of the way, any progress that we have made has been, yes, largely inside maneuvering for legislation, but the outside mobilization made all the difference in the world and many of those people were there, really, multi-generationally because this has been a long fight, so take pride in that.
I don’t know if you are aware of this, but on Tuesday we had a very special occasion at the Capitol. We had 50 delegations from African nations coming to the capitol. Statuary Hall was encircled by the flags of 50 African nations. I commend President Biden for hosting the US Africa Summit that he has and again, demonstrating America’s and President Biden’s unwavering commitment to Africa. Again, I salute and thank Secretary Blinken for joining us. We’re honored to have him here and in his remarks, making clear that this is a priority for him as Secretary of State and for the President and his administration. It was my privilege to receive scores of heads of state. Only one woman, President Samia from Tanzania. Needless to say, she was on the speaking program and it was wonderful, as well as the Chairman of the African Union.
As everything that we do, globally, whether it’s a CODEL or a hospitality extended for the purpose of discussion, it’s about security. Security to protect and defend. Security, economy, how we can grow our economies in a mutually beneficial way and governance. Governance, how people, countries, treat their people. What the level of integrity of governments are, as we try to increase economic relations, as we try to strengthen our security, as we respect the governments of these countries. Here we are. This may be the last time I see you in this way. I’m not sure, maybe next week depending on when we’re here, but in the meantime we take pride under President Biden. He has been a remarkable President. He has a record that is so outstanding and for such a short period of time as well. People compare them to Lyndon Johnson, to Franklin Roosevelt, but I would remind you all that Franklin Roosevelt had 319 Democrats in the house. President Biden had 222, whatever it is, even fewer now.
With all of that, passing the American Rescue Plan, getting vaccines in arms, money in pockets, children in school, people safely back to work, bipartisan infrastructure law, put Americans back to work, building our roads, bridges, ports and water systems. Bringing people together, not projects that divide communities, but bringing people together by putting and this is such a source of pride in that legislation, putting justice and equity front and center. The Safer Communities Act, historic, a historic bill, deploying stronger tools to help get guns out of dangerous hands and to protect our kids. Yesterday, as you know, was the 10 year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook. You would’ve thought that killing little children would make a big change, but still we are in an incremental discussion about what we can do. We won’t relent until the job is done, until we can have background checks and we can ban assault weapons, but that is all for the future.
In addition to all of these, the PACT Act for our veterans, delivering on our duty to care for our veterans and ensuring that 3.5 million more veterans have access to the care they need. I love talking about that, but one thing I’ll say is that this morning I had the privilege of welcoming Reverend Barbers out of North Carolina to say the prayer and after that we acknowledged his outside mobilization to have Camp Lejeune recognized a place that needed attention. People were dying from the water, not only the members of the Armed forces, but their families as well. The CHIPS and Science Act, empowering American preeminence and science. With that bill, signing of it, the President declared America’s independence, our self-reliance, that we would be able to strengthen our economy and our national security.
The Inflation Reduction Act, a source of great pride to me because the flagship issue for me at the beginning of my Speakership and my term in Congress has been saving the planet. In that bill, we’re not only saving the planet, we were slashing prescription drug costs, lowering healthcare premiums, delivering the most consequential climate action in history in any country in the world and reducing the federal deficit. All kinds of other bills here, but these in the forefront and then day before yesterday, the Respect for Marriage Act, so exciting. Beyond these laws, we passed Bills to defend health freedom, fight inflation, advance economic and racial justice, reform our immigration system, support working families, so much more for the people, for the children.
I know what you came to hear about, what’s next? Finally, on the subject of government funding. I’m optimistic that we’ll enact a strong omnibus next week. On Tuesday, as you know, a bicameral bipartisan framework was announced, separately, but nonetheless by Madame Chair Rosa DeLauro, Chair Patrick Leahy and Vice Chair Richard Shelby, so bipartisan, bicameral. This crucial step, it’s on a path to a year long government spending bill, well, some of that year has already been eaten up, but ensuring that all agencies get the funding they need to serve the people. The continued resolution we passed yesterday will ensure that government must stays open through December 23, Friday to Friday, so appropriators have enough time to finish and we have enough time to finish, so that you can go home and celebrate the holidays with your families.
I’m very proud of the work that we have done. I salute the President for his tremendous leadership. Without him, of course, we would not have had all of these successes, but I have to say, I take personal pride in my own involvement in the Protect Marriage Act, but President Biden has been a champion. This is in the fiber of his being. It’s about more freedom in America. As you know as Vice President, he spoke out about this, the first in that administration to do so. Two days ago when we were there, he spoke so from the heart with such commitment on the subject. Any questions?
Speaker 2 (08:45):
Okay, I have two questions. One, first on policy, the second on legacy. On the policy question, should the administration extend Title 42? Do you think the border is secure enough to possibly handle an influx in migrants that we could see?
Nancy Pelosi (09:01):
Well, to secure our border is our responsibility. We always can do more, so enough by what standard? I, of course, have spoken on that subject. There’s not going to be anything happening in this Congress as we go out because we’ve been through the course now. I do like talking about immigration though because it is the constant reinvigoration of America. I saluted Lucille Roybal-Allard by having her speak at my unveiling of the portrait yesterday and in saying so that she has been our godmother on the subject of the Dreamers and also recognizing the importance of a fair immigration system.
The person who spoke most eloquently on this subject was President Ronald Reagan and I call to your attention again and again, his speech. This is the last speech I will make as President of a country that I love and I want to communicate a message to the people. He goes on to talk about, Google it, I will not do it justice in terms of how he communicated it, but I can say that I’ve never heard a better speech about America and what newcomers bring to our country.
Speaker 2 (10:30):
Just really quickly on your legacy, you said this could be one of the last press conferences that we have with you as speaker.
Nancy Pelosi (10:35):
If could be or we may have one a day. We’ll see how it goes.
Speaker 2 (10:36):
Unless we’re until Christmas. If you just can look back on your decades in leadership, how do you want your legacy, your time serving in leadership to be remembered?
Nancy Pelosi (10:46):
Well, that’s a whole subject. Perhaps I’ll close with that, but nothing in any of the years that I was there compares to the Affordable Care Act, expanding healthcare to tens of millions more Americans, 150 million families having better benefits, lower costs and no preexisting condition, risking their access and no lifetime limits. Being a woman, no longer a pre-existing condition, so that really was central because it’s a health issue. It’s an economic issue, a financial health issue for families and it’s a values issue for our country. That for me was the highlight. The fact that it took inside, outside, mobilization, as I mentioned about the LGBTQ issues, was demonstrated also at my unveiling of the portrait yesterday. Is that what you call it? Unveiling?
When our guests spoke about what it meant to her to have a child with disabilities, $3 million in the first six months of her life for the care that she needed, but with the knowledge that all the other care that would be needed would not be subject to insurance company limits and she would not be charged with a pre-existing condition. Again, what we do together, a country, we have 10,000 of which the lobbyists, that’s what she was representing, 10,000 events in the country in support of saving the Affordable Care Act. It was not only building up to it, passing it, but saving it. That took a lot of my time.
Speaker 3 (12:36):
Madame Speaker, House Republicans, as I’m sure you know, have been gearing up toward creating a new China committee in the new year.
Nancy Pelosi (12:43):
What are they doing?
Speaker 3 (12:43):
The China committee, the new China committee in the new Year. What are your thoughts on that? Do you support these efforts and how does this connect back to your most recent trip in Taiwan?
Nancy Pelosi (12:57):
When you say, what do I think of these efforts, I don’t know what they are, but I do know that we have had a China commission, that is the law, that is bipartisan, that is bicameral, in its review of human rights, economy, security, vis-a-vis China. Two days ago, Tuesday I testified before that committee and saluted the fact that for decades we had been working in a bipartisan way. That is a great venue for all of this. The fact is that corporate America has largely been responsible for the situation we’re in terms of the trade deficit in the US because the need for access for themselves at the cost of moderate and small sized businesses in our country, just lost the leverage for the small and modern sized businesses. China said, you want to manufacture in our country, we need your design. We have your design, we don’t need you anymore.
Again, read my speech if we want to know what I think about all of this. From a standpoint of values, from a standpoint of economy and standpoint of security, China poses a challenge to us. It’s a great country, that is to say in terms of number of people and we want to work together on climate issues and the rest, but we cannot have our workers disadvantaged by China having prison labor manufacture products or contribute to the manufactured products that just provide unfair competition for us. Again, it has been one of my issues since I came here, but especially since Tiananmen Square. I said and this will be my statement and again, I’ve worked with Frank Walsh for many years, Jerry Solomon before that, before you were all born and with Chris Smith as well as Marco Rubio and the rest, on very important legislation related to Hong Kong, related to Taiwan and just human rights in China. My statement is, that if we refuse to talk about human rights in China because of economic issues, we lose all moral authority to talk about human rights any place in the world.
Speaker 4 (15:47):
A China follow up. A lot of your colleagues have expressed concern about the Chinese influence with TikTok, the social media app. The Senate last night passed a Bill that would ban TikTok on government devices, government phones. Are you supportive of that effort in particular, but other efforts more broadly that curtail TikTok because of that relationship with the Chinese government?
Nancy Pelosi (16:07):
I haven’t seen the legislation, but my understanding is that there are provisions in the bill that do not deter our ability to, shall we say, from an intelligence standpoint and the rest still be able to track what we need to track with regards to China, but I’ll take a look and see, checking with the administration, just in terms of language, not in terms of being opposed to the idea, but being specific about the language. We’ll leave here today for what’s on the agenda now. I don’t know that will be on the agenda next week, but let’s see, but it’s very, very important.
Speaker 5 (16:58):
Madame Speaker, will you commit to serving your full two year term for the people of San Francisco?
Nancy Pelosi (17:02):
What is this? Don’t bother me with a question like that. Really. Okay. I said what I’m going to do. Those kinds of questions are such a waste of my time. Yes sir, you go.
Speaker 6 (17:17):
One of the defining things of this Congress was the January 6th Committee. You watched it from the outside, you helped form it. What do you make of how they bid? They exceed your expectations? Meet your expectations? Not meet your expectations?
Nancy Pelosi (17:29):
Well, I’m looking forward to their report on Monday. As you know, the chair has announced that they will be making a report on Monday and I look forward to it. Yes, I think that, I’ve seen what you’ve seen, what you see on TV. I think that they conducted the business with the seriousness it deserves. The fact that it’s about our national security, it’s about our democracy. They did so in a way that I think that was done with dignity and with a factual basis and in a totally non-partisan way. In fact, many of the witnesses who testified were Republicans, who made the case about what went wrong. I’m as eager as you are to see the report. My understanding is they’re voting on the report on Monday and then we’ll see a full report after that.
Speaker 6 (18:25):
Is there a value to criminal referrals coming from a legislative committee?
Nancy Pelosi (18:30):
I’m not speaking to any anticipation of what it is. When they make their report, we’ll see, but just generally, writ large, of course.
Don’t ask me about my plans for the weekend or [inaudible 00:18:54]. What have you got?
Speaker 7 (18:56):
[inaudible 00:18:56] government funding. Here we are close to Christmas again. You are an old appropriator-
Nancy Pelosi (19:00):
Hey. Of long standing.
Speaker 7 (19:07):
As an appropriator of long standing, walk us through what it’s like, that we get to this point at the end of the calendar year each year, it’s always up against Christmas and the psychology behind trying to get everything done and out the door. There have been some across the building, some on the other side, who’ve always talked about this being a tactic, that you do a CR now, so that you’re forced to do an omnibus right before Christmas. Everybody just wants to get out of the building. Talk about this.
Nancy Pelosi (19:32):
Well, whose tactic is it? This is certainly something we would like to have had done before, so whose tactic is this?
Speaker 7 (19:40):
Talk about why that is. We’re always at this crux.
Nancy Pelosi (19:45):
We’ve been here longer. We’re here longer. I’ll tell you. There’s time. Let me just tell you this story. I relate to it as the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation taking effect. That would’ve been on New Year’s Day, but on New Year’s Eve I gathered a big collection of Democrats and Republicans to go to the archives, the National Archives, where they had a ceremony with speeches and music and the rest, in anticipation of the [inaudible 00:20:29]. Now I tell you this because before we went there because that was going to be midnight, before we went there I was on the case with President Obama that I wanted something more for children in the final thing, to which he said, now don’t say I told you this, “Don’t have anything better to do than to keep calling me about the bill?” To which I said, “As a matter of fact, yes. I’m taking a group in a couple of hours to the National Archives to see the Emancipation Proclamation.” He said, “Oh yeah, that’s in my office.” You have a copy in your office. We’re going to see the original Emancipation Proclamation.
That was well past Christmas and we were still doing this. It’s not a tactic. We’d like to have done it much sooner. Quite frankly, if you listen to Mr. Hoyer and I do, we should have had these bills all done. We finished our bills. The Senate has not passed one appropriations bill, not one. We would hope in the future is that the bills would pass in House and Senate, their versions, go to conference, have it done by September 30th. In order to do that, you’d have to have most of your bills done by the end, as you go into the August recess, so there’s a better way to do it, yes. The fact is we’re on a good path now to get something done and again, it’s not the bill any one of us would have written, but it’s the bill that we can agree to and we will have it done in a timely fashion, so that we can honor our responsibility to protect and defend, that we can meet the needs of the American people and we can do so on time.
I’m proud, as I’ve said to you before, left to their own devices, the appropriators have a way to get things done. They just know the substance of it. They are sensitive to the timing of it and they’re very talented legislators.
Speaker 7 (22:48):
All four top appropriators in the next Congress are going to be women. What do you think about that?
Nancy Pelosi (22:51):
That’s pretty exciting. How about that? Isn’t it great? I think it will make a difference in terms of consensus building, listening. With the high regard that I have for Chairman Leahy and Richard, I’ve known Richard such a long time. I knew Richard when he was a Democrat. I said that to him, he says, yeah, we do go back a long way.
Speaker 8 (23:19):
How will the new Congress feel for your allies abroad, particularly over Ukraine?
Nancy Pelosi (23:25):
Speaker 8 (23:25):
How will the new Congress feel for your allies abroad, particularly in Europe?
Nancy Pelosi (23:29):
Oh, I think we’re going to be okay. I can’t say what I said at the briefing this morning. Let me say it a different way. I think there’s very strong bipartisan support. Respecting the courage of the people of Ukraine to fight for their democracy. The fight that the people of Ukraine are making for their democracy is a fight for all democracy. The challenge of autocratic wrong violation of the border of a country, trying to undermine the government of that country. I’m very proud of President Biden for how he has been an enabler of collaboration among the countries. Being respectful of what all… As they say, the style of President Kennedy, ask not what America can do for you, but what we can do working together for the freedom of mankind. Second sentence in that beautiful phrase. President Biden has done that beautifully, but this is of the highest priority. It’s about democracy, it’s about freedom, it’s about self-determination. People of Ukraine have taught us all a lesson in courage and determination and I think we’re going to be just fine in supporting them as we go forward.
Thank you all very much. Maybe I won’t see you. Happy holidays. Whatever you celebrate and pretty soon you’ll be home doing that. Pretty soon. Thank you.
Speaker 9 (25:08):
Madam Speaker, do you think Leader McCarthy will have enough votes to be Speaker of the new Congress?