Jul 2, 2020
Speaker Nancy Pelosi Press Conference Transcript July 2
Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on July 2. Pelosi took shots at Trump saying Trump “himself is a hoax,” and slammed Trump for not reading intel reports after his Russia bounty briefing. Read the full speech transcript here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
We’re getting ready for the next round of legislation to come to the floor, but it changed the nature of today.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:13)
Here we are. Tomorrow’s a national holiday, getting ready for the 4th of July. I wear this flag pin quite frequently. I have a couple of different flag pins. This one, particularly fraught with meaning. It says on it, one country, one destiny. American flag, one country, one destiny. These were the words that were woven into Abraham Lincoln’s coat. It was an imperative then, one country, one destiny. It is an imperative now. Especially now, when we have such challenges to the wellbeing of our country.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:58)
We have a pandemic that is wreaking havoc in households and across the country, hurting our economy. In that regard, we must put aside bias and embrace science, science, science, science, testing, testing, testing. An answer, an answer that helps us address the virus, the pandemic, and enables us to open up our economy in a way that is safe. That’s what’s in the Heroes Act; testing, tracing treatment, separation, hand washing, masks. Science, science, science.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:50)
Also in the Heroes Act, so named for the heroes that it honors by keeping them employed; state and local health care workers, sanitation workers, transportation workers, teachers, teachers, teachers, food suppliers, you name them. Employees of state and local government. And many of them, especially in the healthcare sections, risking their lives to save other people’s lives. And now they may lose their jobs. And in the Heroes Act are the resources to keep state and local government running, so you don’t have to fire people so that they can continue services, because that’s what they’ll have to do. Raise taxes or lower services or some combination thereof.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:43)
Also in the Heroes Act is that we have to come together around, recognize our one country, one destiny, is putting money in the pockets of the American people. Direct payments, yes, but also unemployment insurance. I also have in their funding for voting at home, supporting the post office, food. And many people are going to food banks now who never thought they would.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:16)
So it’s for every reason; personal, economically, patriotically, budget-wise and the rest, it’s very important for us to pass the Heroes Act.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:28)
When we ran in 2018, our agenda was a simple one; for the people, for the people we will lower healthcare costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and preserving the preexisting condition benefit, among others. That’s exactly what we did. That’s exactly what we did on Monday when we passed the Affordable Care Act Enhancement Legislation. And a part of it was to lower the cost of prescription drugs by enabling the Secretary to negotiate.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:05)
At the same time as we were passing that enhancement, the White House is in the Supreme Court trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act because they don’t believe in science and they don’t believe in governance. So if you put the two together, let’s just overturn it. And that may be what they believe. But if that’s what they believe, then they should tell the truth about it. Instead of saying, “Oh, we support the benefit of preexisting condition existing.” No, you’ll have court to overturn it. You’ve been trying to overturn it for the full time of the Trump administration. And now you’ve taken it to the Supreme Court. And we will fight that fight there. But I’m very proud of the work of our Chairman to bring our agenda for the people. The work of the committee members.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:00)
Second part of our agenda was to lower healthcare costs, bigger paychecks by building the infrastructure of America, and to do so in a green way for the future. It was a very lengthy bill, 25 hours in the Rules Committee. Not in the Rules Committee, but in the amendment process, and then a long time on the floor. I want to salute the Maestro of it all, Peter DeFazio. But many other chairmen played a role in that, and I’ve acknowledged them.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:40)
But this is a broad bill, it’s transformational. It’s the biggest and greenest infrastructure bill in the history of our country. And it’s about roads and bridges and surface transportation, for sure. It’s also about clean water. Some of our water systems are over a hundred years old, made of brick and wood. And now this will be resources there to change that. It’s about infrastructure for broadband so that all children, all families in our country can have distance learning and tele-medicine and all that that takes, whether they live in rural areas, which is a focus on rural, or urban deserts in that regard.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:26)
Interestingly, Senator McConnell complains, “This so-called infrastructure bill would siphon billions in funding from actual infrastructure to funnel into climate change policies.” Exactly. We’re not siphoning off money. We’re building infrastructure for the future, not for the fifties. And we’re doing it in a way that cleans the air, as a health issue, clean air, clean water. It’s an economic issue. Transportation transfer of product from farm to market, and the rest. It’s a fabulous bill. It would take too long to go further into it, but be sure it’s the safest and greenest infrastructure bill. We are proud of this legislation because you know what, it advances environmental justice. In our healthcare bill, it was about justice and healthcare, addressing the concerns of previously underserved communities who are now more drastically affected by the coronavirus.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:44)
Part of it was again, in that regard, many of you were there when we were on the steps of the Capitol, rolling out the solving the climate crisis action plan, led by Congresswoman Madam Chair, Kathy Castor of Florida. The most detailed sweeping climate plan in over a decade, reflecting over a hundred hearings across nearly every committee in the Congress. Lower healthcare costs, bigger paychecks, cleaner government. And the cleaner government piece in the last few days, the centerpiece was the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, which fundamentally transforms the culture of policing, of ending police brutality and bring accountability to our police departments. It will save lives. That recognizes that overwhelmingly our men and women in uniform take great pride, and the integrity that they bring to their job. But some don’t. And this bill addresses that. And we’re so proud that George Floyd’s family allowed us to name the bill for him. They said it met their standards.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:59)
That was last Thursday. On last Friday, we proudly, for the first time, the House voted to grant statehood to the District of Columbia. As members of Congress, again, our priority, and even all elected officials, safety is our top priority. If the people aren’t safe, the rest of it doesn’t matter as much. And matter of intelligence, force protection is a top priority, to protect our men and women in uniform. Before the initiation of hostilities or in response to them, when they are in danger, their protection is of the highest priority. And so when there are allegations about threats to our men and women in uniform, we expect the President of the United States to give them that same force protection, that same priority. And we are disappointed that that has not happened.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:08)
I’ve called for Russian sanctions to be expanded. In our last Russian sanctions legislation, you may recall we had a strong bipartisan bill that was to be sent to the President. But the White House said they wanted us to take out the sanctions on Russia that pertained to the intelligence and the defense sectors, the very sector that is accused of possible threats on our men and women in uniform. We have to restore those. Whatever else happens of this, we must restore all those sanctions and we must act upon them.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:55)
While we’re in an international arena, as many of you know, I saw some of you there, this week, Beijing passed it’s so-called National Security Law, which signals the death of the one country, two systems principle. When I say I saw some of you there, I meant the Foreign Affairs Committee hearing yesterday.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:20)
As one who has worked on human rights in China in a bipartisan way, with our colleagues across the aisle, across the Capitol, it was so encouraging to see the room was an overflow crowd of members from both sides of the aisle. Of course, we had to keep our distance, and therefore the members, some had to sit in the, shall we say, audience, and others had us come in virtually. But it was the fullest participation for us to review what is happening there. It was a proud and broad bipartisan participation, to shine a light and condemn this law. Congress, and again on a bipartisan basis, are united in our mission to hold Beijing accountable.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:06)
Last year, the House passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. And yesterday, we passed Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which had already passed the Senate. And that was to help end China’s campaign of cruelty against Hong Kong. You’ve heard me say it again and again, if we don’t speak out against violations of human rights in China because of commercial interest, we lose all moral authority to speak out against human rights violations any place in the world.
Nancy Pelosi: (12:41)
Getting back to the flag and the 4th of July, we take that pledge every day in the civic arena. Pledge to the flag ends with liberty and justice for all. And everything that I talked about here, whether it was healthcare, or job security, or environmental justice, or justice in policing, or statehood for the District, we’re talking about liberty and justice for all. That has to be central to all of the legislation that we have put forward. And I’m proud to say that it has been in this array of bills that came forth between last Thursday and yesterday evening. And now we’ll continue our work in committee to bring forth legislation when we come back. Central to them all will be liberty and justice for all. Especially poignant for us as we observe the 4th of July. Any questions? Yes ma’am.
Speaker 2: (13:47)
Thank you, Madam Speaker. My question is about Hong Kong. There is a new proposal that grants refugee status to Hong Kong residents. Do you support that bill? There’s a bipartisan bill on that. And also, what is your overall reaction to mass arrests in Hong Kong during July 1st protests against the security?
Nancy Pelosi: (14:13)
At the hearing yesterday, I had the privilege, by unanimous consent, to participate in the hearing and to listen to the testimony of the witnesses. And I said that one of my concerns about the law was, is it starting now that you cannot- You can practically do nothing. You had no expression of anything that you would not be susceptible to prosecution, probably in Beijing. So my question was, does this retro-active? Does this apply to all of the protests for democratic freedoms that have happened in Hong Kong? I don’t know the answer to that. The Chinese government does. And unfortunately, they’re not sharing that with us right now.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:03)
But I fear for it. But if you saw the so-called national security, what it is is suppression of any expression in Hong Kong. Really sad. So I’m disappointed obviously in the arrest of anyone who’s speaking out peacefully for democratic freedoms, wherever it is.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:29)
In terms of refugee, I’m not familiar with that, but those people would qualify because they have, by this law, a well-founded fear of persecution in the place of origin from which they would come. So they would qualify on that score. I would rather we could make it right in Hong Kong, so that that place of such entrepreneurship and dynamism and spirit of democracy.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:56)
I told you before, when two million people were in the street like a year and a half ago, I said to the President, could you say something about the young people in the street? He said, “Did you see the size of that crowd? Two million people.” I said, “Yeah, even more significant when you know that that is 25% of the population of Hong Kong.” This is a real tragedy. It’s so sad, but in the Congress, in the House and in the Senate, in a very unified way, we have all worked together. It has been for me, a joy to be bonding with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, both sides of the Capitol, on this very important issue. And the Republicans have been there every step of the way. I hope the President will be. Yes ma’am. Yes, ma’am. I’ll do you next.
Speaker 3: (16:50)
[inaudible 00:16:50] the briefing that you have received today, do you think that the President should have been verbally briefed on the information related to Russia boundaries?
Nancy Pelosi: (16:59)
Having nothing to do with the briefing that we had today, I think the President should have been verbally brief on it. But I thought that before the hearing, and it has nothing to do with anything that we were presented at the hearing. Of course, the President should have been briefed. This is of the highest priority; force protection, a threat to our men and women in uniform. The President, it was in his PDB, Presidential Daily Brief, but it wasn’t verbally. But that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t have read that. But again, having nothing to do with we saw today. Yes, sir.
Speaker 4: (17:42)
To that end though, I know that you’re always limited in what you can say about these briefings here. Some have said that that is information should have been things that the gang of eight or others would have known about. That said, can you comment, if you did know about this?
Nancy Pelosi: (17:57)
I didn’t know about it, but I will say this. It was of the consequential levels that the intelligence community should have brought it to us in that way. But what is important is the President’s relationship with Russia. At the same time as the White House was aware of the threat to the security of our men and women in uniform, the President was still flirting with the idea of having Russia be part of the G8, in total opposition to the wishes of the other members of the G8. They weren’t there, Russia wasn’t, because of their annexation of Crimea, their invasion of Ukraine. You can’t be in a G8 or G7. So why was the President, why were they not raising this to a level to say to the President, this is not a good time for you to be saying Russia should be part of the G8, when in fact there is reason to suspect that Russia was threatening the security of our men and women in uniform.
Speaker 5: (19:11)
So Madam Speaker, to that end, what should happen now? I mean, you mentioned potentially restoring those sanctions. I know you just had this briefing, but do you think there are other steps that Congress should take in light of everything we’re learning about this episode?
Nancy Pelosi: (19:24)
Well, let me just say, and reference my statement about … I said it earlier, I think. That when Congress, in a bipartisan way, passed sanctions on Russia, the administration told us to take out the sanctions on the GRU, the intelligence, as well as the defense sectors of Russia. Those should definitely still be there. They were there in a bipartisan way. It’s just the administration wanted them out. I don’t know why. So we should have those in there in any event.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:00)
As this proceeds, we’ll see what other sanctions there should be. But we want to move all doubt in anyone’s mind that just because it’s Russia and just because all roads for the President leads to Putin, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be taking careful guard of our elections, because 24/7, they are trying to undermine the integrity of our elections again. And other concerns that we have about Russian behavior in cyber security and actual security issues. But we don’t subject it to the same kind of scrutiny, this administration doesn’t, because it’s Russia. Yes, sir.
Speaker 6: (20:46)
On the domestic-
Nancy Pelosi: (20:47)
Speaker 6: (20:47)
Oh, did I cut somebody off?
Nancy Pelosi: (20:49)
One, two then.
Speaker 6: (20:50)
Okay. I’m sorry. On the domestic front, you’re leaving now for a few weeks, you come back July 20th. Is there enough time to negotiate a compromise on the next COVID relief package? And where’s that immunity?
Nancy Pelosi: (21:05)
Yeah, of course. First of all, I’m not leaving for two weeks, so don’t give my husband and my family any thought that I will be there for two weeks. No, we come back the beginning of next week with the Appropriations Committee, starting actually on Monday for some subcommittees. My understanding for sure, Tuesday, so that the subcommittee can do their work on appropriations and then the full committee and the week after can do each of those bills. So that when we do come back, we’re ready to go to the floor.
Nancy Pelosi: (21:37)
Many people will be here, some will be virtual. Some of it hybrid, some of it actual, some of it virtual, we’ll see. But Congress will be intensely working, not just the Appropriations Committee. But that is what must be done by September 30th. So that has a priority. And last night they didn’t go too late. They were at a reasonable time. The Defense Bill was passed. The NDA, the National Defense Authorization Act, 56 to zero, completely bipartisan bill. We were very proud of that.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:18)
But yes, we know what we have. Everything we have in the Heroes Act is something that Republicans had voted for before, except one thing, which is a stronger OSHA standard to protect our workers. But everything else in the bill they voted for before. So this is nothing new to them. Some of it bigger, some of it fresher, but all of it something they voted on before. And how this works is the committees do their work, and then what is unresolved gets kicked up to the four leaders. And what’s unresolved there, obviously the President is going to sign the bill, would weigh in there. So they know, they’ve made their overtures. They also have said publicly that this or that should be in the next bill. So we anticipate we will have a bill. Yes, sir.
Speaker 7: (23:13)
Madam Speaker, back if I may, to the intelligence aspect of this. The White House continues to say that this is not yet verified. One of the reasons that the President, it did not rise to his level. It sounds like you’re speaking about this may be a little bit more conclusive than the White House believes that it is. Is that your view?
Nancy Pelosi: (23:31)
Let me just say this. You got the con. The White House put on a con that if you don’t have a hundred percent consensus on intelligence, that it shouldn’t rise to a certain level. Well, we would practically be investigating nothing if you had to start off at a hundred percent. So don’t buy into that. And neither does the intelligence community. It’s an investigation, it’s gathering intelligence, and they have enough intelligence to know where we have to go next with it.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:10)
So I don’t know what the point of your question is that just because they didn’t have a hundred percent consensus, should this be not briefed? Should the President of the United States when it involves the security and safety of our men and women in uniform? As we said in our statement, Chuck Schumer and I, he should spend more time reading the daily presidential brief, the Presidential Daily Brief, whatever, than planning military parades and preserving the relics of the Confederacy.
Speaker 8: (24:41)
Madam Speaker, on that topic, you obviously care a lot about symbols and symbols of America. I think I’m going to take off my mask, make this a little clearer. Can you update us on where you think things stand with the Confederate statues remaining in the Capitol, and if you just assume that now that’s left to the states because leader McConnell is not engaging? And also, former Vice President Biden said this week, he believes there’s a distinction for Jefferson, Washington. Both of those men, there’s a bust of Washington and a statue of Jefferson in the House side, which you control. Do you believe there’s a distinction, or should there be a conversation about those representations as well?
Nancy Pelosi: (25:22)
I do believe that if people have committed treason against the United States of America, their statues should not be in the Capitol. And we took down the paintings of the speakers who were members of the Confederacy. And there will be legislation coming forth to remove those same people who meet that low description, if you’ve committed treason against the United States of America. It’s not about Washington and Jefferson. It’s about Alexander Stephens. Read what he said about people. It’s about the president of the Confederacy, whose statue is up there, who committed treason against the United States. So that’s the clarity that we should have. Some of it is the states have put them there, the States may want to review. But in the meantime, while they may be in the Capitol, we can decide where they are in the Capitol.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:23)
Thank you all very much. Happy 4th of July. Take care, keep a distance, wash your hands. Happy Fourth. Thank you. Thank you.