Aug 27, 2020
Speaker Nancy Pelosi Press Conference Transcript August 27
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference on August 27. She discussed coronavirus relief and the 2020 presidential election. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
… so much going on.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:02)
In my state of California, we have wildfires that are being described as Armageddon. In the Gulf Coast, we have a hurricane coming in, Laura, that has been described yesterday as being unsurvivable. Unsurvivable. At the same time, we have a pandemic that continues to threaten the lives of the American people and then we have the sadness of Kenosha, of Jacob Blake being shot seven times. So very, very sad and the fact is, is that our public policies could have made a difference in all of this.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:46)
Let me just say three words about the wildfires and the hurricanes and about the coronavirus. Three words: Science, science, and science.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:01)
The science that the administration has chosen to ignore and the Republican Party for a long time before the Trump Administration has ignored, in denial about the climate crisis. The climate crisis that is not only having a physical impact, but an economic impact in a way that is, shall we say, another injustice in our society.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:26)
These people are getting hit. These people are getting hit off the Gulf coast, many of them not in an economic position to survive very well.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:40)
Science in terms of the virus. It’s a hoax. Then denial, delay, distortion. Masks are irrelevant. Why should we have tracing? Social distancing, forget about it. All the rest. The denial of what scientists are telling us that can stop and curtail the spread, the rapid spread of this virus. A Senate Majority Leader who says we put things on hold now for months with no real respect for the fury of this virus.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:19)
Then science in terms of what we hope and pray for. Science being a answer to our prayers. Therapies, vaccine. That they’re based on science. The approval of the FDA has to be about efficacy and safety, not about politics from the Oval office, wanting speed at the expense of the health and wellbeing and safety of the American people. And the CDC, the CDC for the Oval office, who to be determining what the criteria are for someone to be tested. The president doesn’t want any more tests because that tells us that we have more cases. Those tests are causing the infections. Really? How unscientific is that?
Nancy Pelosi: (03:11)
The rejection of science when it comes to the climate crisis. The rejection of science, when it comes to halting this vaccine, right from the start. The rejection of science in terms of a vaccine and therapies and the rest and the CDC. CDC making that proclamation, simply because the president doesn’t want to know about any more cases.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:37)
Since we passed the HEROES Act over a hundred days ago and Mitch McConnell pressed the pause button, over 4 million people have been added to the infection list. 82,000 more people have died. Could we have saved all of these? No, but many we could have. When science tells us that that’s how other countries or other countries are dealing and managing this vicious virus.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:14)
So for this administration to show its face to any children in our country, I say to those who support the president, I respect that. I respect if you vote and exercise that but understand this. He is asking you to put him before your children. He’s doing that in the schools by saying children should… He wants to put the bulk of the money into schools that you actually open up instead of recognizing the cost to opening up actually, virtually, online education and any hybrid of that. Stunning when you see that of the a hundred largest school systems in the country, 62 of them are 100% virtual as of last week. Another dozen or so more bringing it over to three quarters of them, hybrid; partially actual, partially virtual. And then just a small percentage actually opening 100%.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:20)
We all want our children, grandchildren, my case, to be going to school. Teachers, in my case, my children, teachers want to teach but we cannot risk our children’s safety and the safety of those who make schools work, whether it’s teachers or support staff and other ways, put that at risk, put them at risk.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:46)
And so the president has just decided and you see, that I think that was just reversed but the Secretary of Education was giving all the money that was given, she was giving to private schools, which we want them to be able to be protected, those children too, to have full discretion about how they spend money but not in the public school system.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:08)
So I’ve called for next Tuesday, excuse me, Wednesday, September 2nd, a day of action on the part of our members. A day of action to focus on our schools. This is about as important as anything we do. The protection of our children. The ability for them to learn, to go to school in a safe way, whether it’s actually, virtually, or in a hybrid way. And to do so in a way that has OSHA protections for the teachers. They’re called essential workers, the president said. Well, if they’re essential workers, let’s value their safety by having protections, which the administration has rejected.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:52)
So we’ll have that day. Last week, we had the day of action about the postal system because of the president’s henchmen, trying to dismantle the postal system. So that would mess up any successful vote by mail. But what they really did was hurt our veterans. Over 90% of VA medications that go out to our veterans, go through the postal system. 1.2 billion prescriptions went through the mail in 2019. I’ve said that to you before. So it’s about medications. It’s about Social Security. Again, it’s about people paying their bills and they’re not getting to the destination in time for the deadline they’re supposed to meet.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:39)
So the response that people got to the delay in the mail that this administration implemented in order to undermine our right of people to vote by mail, not having to choose between their health and their vote. They got an earful from all of our constituents and what did they said. We’re not reversing any of it. We took in those blue boxes. We undid those processing machines. Some of them, they put out in the rain so that they would not be able to be set up again.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:17)
So really the American people are not being served by this administration but their misrepresentations, their distortions of the truth and the facts are very sad for the children.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:33)
So again, we, we hope that they will recognize that in order for us to open our economy and our schools safely, we must test, trace, treat, socially distance, wear our mask, sanitation and the rest. If they would only listen to the scientist.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:56)
In order for our dream to come true, our prayers to be answered on a vaccine and therapies, they have to listen to the scientist instead of undermining the Food and Drug Administration in a way that is historic in what they’re trying to do and very, very damaging. Sadly, it will undermine the confidence that people might have in a vaccine when it comes along if they think the efficacy and safety were rejected at an interest of the president wanting speed. And of course the CDC, that’s an immorality. It’s an immorality. Listen to the scientist. When it comes to mother nature, who’s in a mood, who’s speaking out very clearly. Do something about the climate crisis, accept the science on it and the same thing holds true with ambitiousness of this virus and the stupidity of this administration to put speed ahead of efficacy, effectiveness, and safety, when it comes to vaccines, therapies and other miracles that we are hoping for; miracles of science.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:18)
Any questions. Let me see who hasn’t had a question. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 3: (10:22)
Madam speaker, Richie Neal, as you know, is facing a tough primary on Tuesday. Regarding in his district who’ve been frustrated with his leadership of the Ways and Means Committee that he hasn’t gone after Trump’s tax returns harder… [crosstalk 00:10:37] Hasn’t gone after Trump’s tax returns harder or conducted tougher oversight of the administration, what is the argument for voting for him?
Nancy Pelosi: (10:47)
I’m so glad you posed that because the fact is, is that Richie Neal is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and as such, he has been a strong advocate for our country, people of our country, the state of Massachusetts and his district.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:06)
His personal life is something that I always like to call attention to because his chair of Ways and Means has a great deal to say about survivor benefits on Social Security and the rest and he knows that well, because he lived it. His family lived it. So he’s there for America’s working families. America’s families who are impoverished by the loss of a loved one, the breadwinner in the family, and the rest.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:34)
In terms of, I can’t even believe they would say about the tax returns. Richie Neal has been completely strong and tough minded on this. We are at the mercy of the court, at the mercy of the court, but he has been very strong in how he is going for. He could not do anything more.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:00)
In fact, when we win this election and we have a new president of the United States in January, and we have a new Secretary of the Treasury and Richie Neal asks for the president’s returns, then the world will see what the president has been hiding all of this time.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:21)
But in terms of dealing with the courts now, he has been strong and persistent and doing exactly what the lawyers say that we have to do in order to prevail in the courts. The courts… We have to go through the process, the number of cases, and what we’re waiting for is also some other decisions that the court has held up. The Trump courts have held up decisions, which then back up other decisions are wanting to be predicated on where we go forward. The McCann Decision for example, came down in our favor. However, the administration will further appeal. But we could not have a stronger, wiser, more strategic advocate to get the president’s tax returns then Richie Neal. That representation is based on lack of knowledge of what actually is going on and probably just an idle political charge.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:28)
But Richie has been in terms of the climate, I mentioned climate earlier, he has placed in the moving forward legislation, our infrastructure bill, tax credits, using the tax codes to save the environment in such a way. Read it. Read it. I just ask you to read it because it takes us to new heights in terms of how you use the tax code to support renewable energy in a way that saves our planet.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:04)
Then on top of that, on top of that, he brought bills, we brought two bills to the floor to unleash the power of women. As we observed this week, the Centennial of the 19th Amendment. For us, one manifestation of to make a bigger difference is to make a bigger commitment to childcare.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:30)
This pandemic has pointed out very clearly that if children can’t go to school, parents can’t go to work. Children learning, parents earning. They need childcare and Richie and and Nita Lowey had put forth a package. Well, the total package is $210 billion dollars. Bigger than anybody’s ever thought. Transformative in terms of unleashing the power of women and in the HEROES Act, $55 billion dollars strictly Coronavirus centric, because everything in that bill is strictly Coronavirus centric.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:12)
I mean, he has been so progressive and when we did the US Mexico agreement with Richie in the lead, we had unheard of progress in terms of protecting the environment and unheard of progress in protecting America’s workers and unheard a private and keeping the heavy hand of the pharmaceutical industry out of that discussion.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:38)
We had the biggest vote ever for a trade bill. People who never voted for one before, because of just weren’t agreeing that it was in the interest of America’s workers, overwhelmingly supported the US Mexico Trade Agreement and we would not have had those provisions to protect America’s workers, America’s environment, America’s health, without Richie’s strong hand at the helm and how he involved members to be part of the discussion and a taskforce that he formed to make sure that this would be a template for future.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:20)
Now, we didn’t get everything want because we have you know what in the White House, but it was completely turned upside down what the White House had sent us originally. So I… Richie Neal is an absolute leader in the Congress, a progressive leader in the Congress, a person who again, is here as our caucus is. We’re here for America’s working families and as such, we will use, whether it’s the appropriations process, the tax code, or our policy initiatives to benefit America’s working families and Richie has been a champion in that regard.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:04)
So I couldn’t be prouder than to speak in terms of the things that he has specifically done that I have seen on a day to day basis to get things done. People will say what they will say, but I know what he has done and it would be a tremendous loss to that district to lose the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:25)
May I say, as an aside, if you promise not to tell anybody, every time I turn around with any bill that we’re doing, there are some, shall we say, project of national significance in his district that seems to have made the cut. So he’s proud of his district. He’s proud of its ingenuity and he makes sure that it is recognized in legislation, in the Congress. Yes. Ma’am.
Speaker 3: (17:53)
Speaker Pelosi, you’re going to speak with Mark Meadows today. Did he agree to come up a trillion dollars in order to have this conversation?
Nancy Pelosi: (18:02)
No. Let me be really clear. If you watch this convention and you hear people say, “Oh, they don’t have it. We have to truth monitor. We have to do this and that because they’re not telling the truth.” That’s the atmosphere in which he springs from.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:18)
So when he comes to all of you and says, “Well, we were trying this and we’re trying that,” they’re not trying anything. We have said to them, we’re willing to meet you in the middle, that we think what we have in our bill and our chairman and I speak to them regularly, are committed to what we have in the bill to meet the public’s needs. That’s not what they are about. Understand that.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:43)
So this is a conversation only to respect the fact that the president’s representative, not even the lead negotiator, that would be Mnuchin. We consider whatever his name is. What’s his name? Matt Meadows, is staffing Mr. Mnuchin, and if they are willing to meet us in the middle, then we can sit down and talk. So this is, you called me. I’m returning your call. Are you ready to bring much more money to the table to honor our heroes, our state and local workers, our healthcare workers, our first responders, our teachers, our sanitation, transportation, healthcare workers? That could be a very short conversation if they’re not ready to meet in the middle, if they’re not.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:30)
So it isn’t that should be very short. Hopefully it isn’t. Hopefully they understand, they understand that if we’re going to destroy this virus, we have to have sufficient funds to do so in terms of testing, tracing and treating. That unless we support state and local government, millions more people will be unemployed; millions.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:56)
Over one and a half, close to 2 million have lost their jobs already because of the cost that they have, the outlays they’ve had to make because of the Coronavirus, as well as revenue that they have lost and now people are losing their jobs and many more will unless we address the state and local.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:16)
Again, in terms of so many other aspects of the legislation as I said earlier, most important thing right now, kids are going back to school one way or another. We must keep them safe. We must not say, as the Secretary of the Treasury has said, “Children should take risk. People do. Astronauts do. By learning to ride a bike, you do.” No. This is risking, taking a risk with your life, your good health, and what you could bring home to others who may be more susceptible.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:51)
We do not have shared values. That’s why it’s very hard to come to an agreement on this. I check in with my chairman and they say, “I know you have to come down but understand our number is a defensible, scientific, institutionally based justification for what the public needs, whether it’s about schools and the rest, or people being evicted or millions of children hungry and our country and the rest.” So, no. Just to ask you a question, are you willing to meet in the middle? If so, we can have a conversation. If not, I’ve returned your call. Yes, sir.
Speaker 4: (21:32)
To follow up on that quickly, it’s been three weeks since you made that offer and if you haven’t budged and he hasn’t budged…
Nancy Pelosi: (21:39)
We’re not budging. Understand this.
Speaker 4: (21:41)
Then how do you break the impasse?
Nancy Pelosi: (21:43)
They have to move. They have to move. Why should there be a bill that has a far less what the public needs? We have that responsibility and if they’re just going to have to come up with more money. They didn’t mind having coming up with more money when they gave their tax cut to the top 1%, 83% of the benefits going to the top 1%, a tax bill that will cost at about $2 trillion to the national debt, a burden on our children. So the top 1% could get 83% of the benefits.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:21)
We need a flood of money for this. We have a pandemic. We have a pandemic and the economic consequences of again and again, bad numbers in terms of unemployment today and they’re coming in with an eyedropper. No.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:38)
Any other questions? Yes.
Speaker 5: (22:39)
Madam Speaker. One of the items that Republicans are saying about the HEROES Act is it contains erroneous funds for such as money to illegal immigrants here in the United States. What’s your reaction to that?
Nancy Pelosi: (22:52)
They’re not telling the truth. Let’s just be clear. Let’s not waste each other’s time. They’re not telling the truth. Any other questions? Yes. Ma’am.
Speaker 6: (23:02)
As the candidates begin campaigning, there seems to be a little bit of a difference in the approach this year. It’s an election year like none other. Some are doing in person, virtual events, others are not. It seems Democrats are leaning towards more virtual event.
Speaker 6: (23:18)
Do you have any concerns that there is a risk of not being out there in person meeting people? And what’d he say to the Republicans who are door knocking and taking this approach?
Nancy Pelosi: (23:29)
Well, let me just say that people have to make their judgment in their region. If the incidents of infection is low, they may have more capability of reaching out to people. But the fact is, this is a matter of life and death and the ability to virtual… We all draw strength from our contact with our constituents, their inspiration. They show us the ramifications of public policy and the rest. They give us a initiatives of national significance to share with others. So we all miss that. There’s no question but the fact is, we have to protect them. We have to protect them and so I would say again, I don’t know what the Republicans are doing. I have no advice for them, except when they come here, they have to wear a mask.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:25)
But the fact is, listen to the scientist. The scientists give you the best guidance on how to interact with others and social distancing is a very important part of it. If the scientists say in a particular area, that there is a well, well, well below 1% incidents over a period of time, then there may be a judgment made for that region. But we all miss the enthusiasm of people with their challenges and their questions and the rest.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:04)
Since you asked about that, I’m myself just don’t tell anybody I told you this, especially don’t tell Joe Biden. I don’t think that there should be any debates. I do not think that the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that anybody has any association with truth, evidence, data, and facts. I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him, nor a debate, in terms of the presidency of the United States.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:41)
Now I know that the Biden campaign thinks in a different way about this but I just, I thought what he did in 2016 was disgraceful stalking Hillary Clinton like that. I was disappointed that the press didn’t say, “Go back to your station. You’re not here. You don’t own this stage. You have your own podium. She has hers.”
Nancy Pelosi: (26:03)
So I think that he’ll probably act in a way that is beneath the dignity of the presidency. He does that every day but I think he will also belittle what the debates are supposed to be about and they’re not to be about skullduggery on the part of somebody who has no respect for the office. He holds much less the democratic process. Why else would he try to undermine the elections and the manner in which he is doing?
Nancy Pelosi: (26:36)
So, if Joe Biden asked you what I thought about it, I don’t think that he should dignify that conversation with Donald Trump. You asked them any questions, both of them, just take their own stage for any number of conversations about any subjects. Hold them accountable. What are they proposing? What is their vision? What is their knowledge? How are we going to get it done? How do they connect with the American people? Let that be a conversation with the American people, not an exercise in skullduggery.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:14)
Thank you all very much.