Jul 9, 2020
Speaker Nancy Pelosi Press Conference Transcript July 9
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on July 9. Pelosi said she wants trillions of dollars in the next coronavirus aid bill. Read the full speech transcript here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
Above the law. The path that the Supreme Court has laid out is one that is clearly achievable by us in the lower court and we will continue to go down that path. The decision enables … To enable the Trump administration’s … I don’t know what they’re even saying about it. I hear he’s tweeting one thing and then the other people are saying another but whatever it is it’s not good news for the President of the United States. It is a path that we will take.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:41)
So I put in a statement, I don’t see it here. Do we have a copy of the statement? Do we? It’s not here, so … But anyway, you don’t need me to give you a piece of paper to have what the statement is, but it took me a little longer to get out here because I wanted to read to the bottom, the end of the decision, and the chief justice specifically speaks to the fact that the president is not above the law and that was something that was proclaimed in the decision including two of his recent appointments.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:21)
[inaudible 00:01:21], a careful reading of the Supreme Court ruling related to the president’s financial records is not good news for President Trump. The court has reaffirmed the Congress’ authority to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people as it asks for further information from Congress. Congress’ constitutional responsibility to uncover the truth specifically related to the president’s Russia connection that he is hiding. The Congress will continue to conduct oversight for the people upholding the separation of powers that is the genius of our constitution. We will continue to press our case in the lower courts.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:04)
That’s what happened this morning. Earlier this morning, for the 16th week in a row, over one million Americans applied for unemployment insurance. 16th week in a row. We have to open up our economy. We can only do so by killing off the virus. That’s what’s in HEROES Act. Testing, tracing, treatment, separation, masking, wash your hands, keep your distance as they say. That is what is in the HEROES Act. All of the scientific pronouncements have spoken to the need for more testing and the urgency of tracing and the benefit of treatment so that people do not die. Again, this administration seems to be turning its back on science and instead saying open up, take a risk. Oh by the way, open up the schools. Open up the schools. As a mother and a grandmother, everybody I know wants to open up the schools. Indeed a large percentage, overwhelmingly the teachers, want to open up the schools, but it has to be safe for the children. Has to be safe for the children. We must attack this coronavirus. We must kill it off. We cannot ignore it and we cannot call it a hoax and we cannot misrepresent the facts as to what the status of it is.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:55)
In order for the children to go back to school, our state and local governments have to function. That’s what the HEROES Act is about. The first piece of it, honor our heroes, state and local government, hiring our first responders, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers, our healthcare workers who risk their lives to save other lives and now they may lose their jobs. Over a million public employees have lost their jobs in the course of this coronavirus and we could change that if we make the commitment in the HEROES Act to state and local government and by the way, go there, speaker.gov/heroesact and see how much money goes to your community. Your state, your locality, your county, your municipality, and then recognize that it is only one half of what the Republicans gave to the top 1% in their tax scam, and their tax scam cost twice as much as what we want to spend to open up government, to provide the services that people need. To open up our economy and to open up our schools.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:11)
The Secretary of Education indicated that children should go to school, they have to take risks. Everybody takes risks, you take risks to ride a bicycle, to be an astronaut. There’s risk, you have to take risk. No we don’t want our children to take risk to go to school. We’re supposed to mitigate for any damage. We’re supposed to keep them safe. So with stiff competition, that was one of the most ill-informed statements … Stiff competition though in this administration on this and other subjects. The third part of it is we’re never going to have our economy come back unless we recognize that we must put money in the pockets of the American people and that’s what we do with the third pillar of the HEROES Act.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:04)
Unemployment insurance will expire in a few weeks in July. Unemployment insurance will expire. The HEROES Act extends it. Extends it, and again the last checks go out about July 26, something like that but it’s over by the end of the month. We must renew unemployment insurance. This morning, 16th straight week of one million, over one million people, applied for unemployment insurance, and we have to put the money in the pockets of people with our direct payments. Absolutely essential. If we do not, if we do not help our state and local governments honoring our heroes, if we do not kill off this virus and if we do not put money in the pockets of the American people, our economy will only worsen. Don’t take it from me. Take it from authorities on the subject who track this all the time. So it’s absolutely essential, absolutely essential that we come together in a bipartisan way and get this done in the next few weeks.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:19)
It also has [inaudible 00:07:20] resources that have bipartisan support in the country for helping the postal service, keeping the postal service going, keeping voting at home funded and also a very important of putting people back to work, our OSHA provision for safety in the workplace. PPP and its availability or lack thereof is very much a part of everything we’ve been talking about, about meeting the needs, the healthcare needs of people who are diagnosed. It’s essential to our teachers and our children going back to school. Teachers, custodians, all of those who are responsible for the education of our children which is of the highest priority for us all safely, PPP necessary and again we have a shortage of that.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:16)
So we have to have common sense weigh in on this. Common sense to listen to the scientists and not CDC regulations that are predicated on a tweet, on a tweet. We always want any guidance that we get to be updated by the scientific knowledge and the rest, but this to be downgraded on a tweet just tells you how senseless all of this is.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:50)
As we’re gathering here this week, many things are going on. The Appropriations Committee is meeting every day starting Monday of the next two weeks putting together our appropriations bills which as you know must be passed by September 30, that’s the deadline. The Armed Services Committee is meeting I think right now as we speak and they’re being briefed on matters that relate to Russia. Right now today I guess it is continuation of the work of the Energy and CommercE Committee that is having its hearings, Appropriations, Homeland Security, these are the subcommittees of Appropriations, Foreign Affairs Committee [inaudible 00:09:40] is having its hearings, Education and Labor examining the impact of COVID-19 on the future of higher education, Financial Services, economic perspectives on alternative approaches to protecting workers during COVID-19, Oversight Committee goes into the life-threatening impact of single-use plastic on human health and then in Natural Resources there’s a meeting of Democrats only on the restoration economy examining environmental and economic opportunities. The list goes on. Homeland Security, Small Business, Budget, Veterans’ Affairs, Energy and Commerce I said and … There are like three days of these meetings, so I’m very proud of the work that the members are doing to prepare us for the votes on the floor when we call all the members back. Intelligence Committee, when we come back we’ll be marking up the Intelligence bill but it is all in the works now.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:48)
So we’re getting ready for when they come back. As I say, many of these meetings are virtual. Some are hybrid, some are actual. All of them important and all of them to be acted upon when we come back including the Appropriations bill, almost immediately the National Defense Authorization Act. The urgency … It’s more than urgent, it’s so necessary and so obvious of the HEROES Act demands, it’s an imperative, that we put something together that passes out of the Congress signed by the president by the end of July so that we are … People who have uncertainty in their lives because of unemployment, uncertainty in their lives because of just not having resources, will have the comfort of knowing and therefore the consumer confidence to spend which is so important. Anyway, just a very eventful time. Sad about the again, the 16th week of people applying for unemployment insurance. Carefully reading the Supreme Court decision and responsibilities for them that they lay out for the Congress which we will abide by in the lower courts and again seven to two, even the president’s appointees saying the President of the United States is not above the law. Any questions? Yes ma’am.
Speaker 2: (12:31)
Yes. Leader McConnell said this week in Kentucky that he is open to direct payments, another round of direct payments to individuals making under $40,000.00 a year. Can you tell us if you’ve spoken with him about this?
Nancy Pelosi: (12:47)
Speaker 2: (12:47)
It seems like a departure from his initial comments where he was saying we need to wait and see before there is more spending and now does that make you more open to liability protections in the next relief bill?
Nancy Pelosi: (12:58)
No, let me just say this. Every day you see them opening up more. We get overtures about can this be in the bill, can that be in the bill. Because they know there has to be a bill. What doesn’t measure up is, “Oh, it can only be a trillion dollars.” No, we need a trillion dollars for state and local. We need a trillion dollars, another trillion dollars for unemployment insurance and direct payments. [inaudible 00:13:27] something like that but probably not as much for the testing, tracing, treatment, et cetera. So a trillion dollars is … Okay, that’s an interesting starting point, but it doesn’t come anywhere near. I don’t know where the $40,000.00 came from. I think there are many families, depending on size of family, so many different things, that $40,000.00 would have to be explained, justified and the rest but I think families making over $40,000.00 probably need assistance. Again, just depending on their family situation. We think there is a path to talk about protecting businesses and workers and customers who come in and that is our OSHA provision, but again, let’s hear what everybody has to say but don’t say you all have to go back to work, even if it isn’t safe, and by the way, we’re removing all responsibility from the employer. No.
Speaker 2: (14:35)
You said trillion, did you mean billion?
Nancy Pelosi: (14:36)
Speaker 2: (14:38)
You just said trillion –
Nancy Pelosi: (14:39)
Speaker 2: (14:39)
A trillion here, a trillion here. Did you mean billion?
Nancy Pelosi: (14:41)
A trillion for what here?
Speaker 2: (14:43)
Oh, never mind.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:44)
No, I’m saying trillion. Trillion for state and local. Trillion for unemployment insurance and direct payments. Trillion with a T-R. Let’s put it this way. $1 trillion for state and local. That is half of the cost of the Republican plan in their tax scam, that cost … Added $2 trillion to the national debt. So yeah I’m saying trillion.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:16)
Let me say another thing about trillions. The Fed is spending trillions of dollars to shore up the stock market. That may be a good thing to do. We think we should spend trillions of dollars to shore up America’s workers and that there’s a path that is a good investment that is a stimulus, that is stimulus, that keeps people from losing their jobs and helps people get jobs by being a stimulus and spending, having consumer confidence, spending, injecting demand into the economy, job creating. Yeah, Chad and [inaudible 00:15:59].
So you say that this was bad news for the president on the decision this morning but –
Nancy Pelosi: (16:07)
I said it wasn’t good news.
It wasn’t good, fair enough, but that said, what would the House do now with this? I mean, had they ruled differently, you would have conceivably had these records before the National Services Committee, before the Oversight Committee, and you would have had to parse through these, [inaudible 00:16:23] into another investigation –
Nancy Pelosi: (16:25)
Why are we talking about what we would have done? They didn’t rule that way.
So what will you do? This kind of prevents you from doing some sort of a broader investigation which some Democrats will tell you privately that they would prefer not to go down that road just before an election.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:39)
And some will tell me they want to go down that road, but we have a path that the Supreme Court has laid out that we certainly will not ignore, and we will never stop our oversight that is our responsibility under the Constitution of the United States. By all accounts from many of the shall we say constitutional authorities, this was … There was never any way they were going to give us the records right now, but they would give us a path to the records. Yes sir.
Speaker 4: (17:17)
Speaker Pelosi, it’s very unlikely you’re going to see these before the election. It is also unlikely for the New York case or the tax returns will go before the grand jury before the election, so are you disappointed that Congress and the American public will not see these records, almost certainly will not see these records before November?
Nancy Pelosi: (17:33)
Well thank you for that question because it takes me to what was really important about this decision. This isn’t so much about the president’s records although we’d like to know how Russia funded his operation all those years, but that’s not what was at stake. What was at stake is the president above the law. Is this court, a court friendly to the president, going to rule in favor of the Executive branch and say that there is no congressional oversight, undermining our system of checks and balances. So for us that was what was important and what is at stake is the system of checks and balances. As I say in my statement, the genius of the Constitution. If in fact they would have ruled that he is not above the law … I mean that he could do whatever he wants without any oversight from Congress, that would have been just devastating to tell you the honest truth and we would still fight it, we would still fight it because they would have abandoned all precedent and the rest that has ruled in favor of Congress having oversight authority. However they did not and the victory is for the Constitution of the United States. The process will take longer, but that’s not what was truly important here.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:00)
All I kept thinking is our founders did this magnificently, magnificently … Checks and balances, the separation of powers, co-equal branches of government and the court sustained that this morning. Yes sir.
Speaker 5: (19:17)
Given the unemployment situation and the rise in cases in the past couple of days, do you think it’s possible to extend that unemployment benefit separate from the HEROES Act or some other package that you may have to work out before the end of the month?
Nancy Pelosi: (19:32)
People ask me is it possible that you could do the state and local separately or acknowledging the horror of what’s happening with the spikes in the coronavirus. Would you do that separately? They really are all connected. They are all of one piece. We will be working on and our Budget Committee has been making progress on this on how we have stabilizers so that if you reach a certain unemployment rate or whatever measure is appropriate to the action required, that it would automatically happen so that there’s no doubt, but this unemployment insurance uncertainty is devastating to families so I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s the easiest thing. I don’t know that they support unemployment insurance, but I do think that they will eventually support state and local government and they’re going to have to come around to something on COVID.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:44)
By the way, much of what we have on these testing traces treatment et cetera relates to addressing the disparities in our community, how low-income families and people of color suffer in a disproportionate way because of their predisposition to it because of their lack of access to testing early enough and the rest. So every piece of it is critically important and there’s no reason why we should … Should we just ignore testing and let this thing go? Should we just say to state and local to fire people, diminish services to your populations and also raise taxes. This is a very well thought-out initiative and it’s all connected. Open up the economy, test. Treat the people, honor our heroes. It’s all connected. Any other women who have a question in here? Yes ma’am. You. Here.
Speaker 6: (21:52)
Thank you Madam Speaker. So you were just talking about congressional oversight, and my question is about the United States withdrawal from the World Health Organization. You mentioned that the defund from the organization would be illegal, [inaudible 00:22:07] House Democrats planning to take any action?
Nancy Pelosi: (22:10)
We have been putting together an appropriations bill now. I think the president’s withdrawal from WHO is senseless. It’s not only about the coronavirus, it’s about polio, it’s about other afflictions, diseases, diagnoses, that we have worked together to try to eliminate or diminish. So I think it’s senseless. As you know, it doesn’t become effective until next summer, 2021 I think it is, July. We’ll be addressing it in our appropriations bill that is being written this week and next to counter that. Yes sir.
Speaker 7: (22:51)
Speaker Pelosi, on Tuesday, the HHS appropriations markup Congressman Cole criticized the fiscal spending … Or next spending bill for forcing family planning guarantees to provide information on abortion to all pregnant women they serve regardless of their religious belief. I just wanted to get your thoughts on that.
Nancy Pelosi: (23:12)
I haven’t seen that. I don’t know what he said about it but when I see if I’ll let you know what I think of it.
Speaker 7: (23:17)
[inaudible 00:23:17] also a push to be able to take out the Hyde Amendment?
Nancy Pelosi: (23:22)
Well let me just say this about the Hyde Amendment. For 40 years, since I was not even in Congress, I have been dismayed by the injustice of the Hyde Amendment. It just discriminates against poor women and largely they are women of color and so I don’t know if that relates to … I don’t know what that is. I don’t think that it’s in the bill. You’ll have to –
Speaker 7: (23:46)
It’s not in this bill but there was a push to possibly remove the Hyde Amendment in the coming spending bills in the years to come.
Nancy Pelosi: (23:52)
Why are we talking about the years to come? I myself would like to see it gone. I think it’s gravely unjust but it’s not in this bill as I understand. So what was he complaining about? Something that wasn’t in the bill.
Speaker 7: (24:06)
He was complaining about criticizing that family planning guarantees to provide information on abortions to all pregnant women that they serve regardless of their religious belief.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:19)
I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I mean I just don’t … I’m an appropriator and I served on Labor/HHS for many years and I’m very close to the issue of family planning being a mother of five and six years to the day [inaudible 00:24:33] something about this –
Speaker 7: (24:34)
You’d like to see the Hyde Amendment gone?
Nancy Pelosi: (24:35)
But I don’t know what he’s complaining about there. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 8: (24:40)
Madam Speaker, this question is close to home for you. The City of Richmond is obviously in sync with your desire to get rid of Confederate statues but in Boston or in Little Italy, the statue of Christopher Columbus was removed or taken down and I wonder if you have anything to share about that?
Nancy Pelosi: (25:00)
I don’t even have my grandmother’s earrings. I’m not a big … Let’s see what we have in terms of monuments and this. I’m more interested in what people have accomplished. I think that it’s up to the communities to decide what statues they want to see but I think that it’s very important that we take down any of the statues of people who committed treason against the United States of America as those statues exist in the halls of Congress, in the rotunda … Not the rotunda I don’t think but in the statuary hall and the rest where some of them are but I’m not one of those people who’s wedded to, “Oh a statue, to somebody someplace is an important thing.” Again, if the community doesn’t want the statue there the statue shouldn’t be there. It doesn’t diminish my pride or my Italian-American heritage and the thing that it was a country discovered by an Italian, named by an Italian, Amerigo Vespucci, so I have that pride, but I don’t care that much about statues.
Speaker 9: (26:09)
Shouldn’t that be done by a … Respectfully shouldn’t that be done by a commission or the city council, not a mob in the middle of the night throwing it into a harbor?
Nancy Pelosi: (26:15)
People will do what they do. I do think that from a safety standpoint, it would be a good idea to have it taken down if the community doesn’t want it. I don’t know that it has to be a commission but it just could be a community view. Sometimes it’s something that’s been there, that view has been there for a while, but let’s just say … I always say to young people, children who come to the Capitol, when you look around, you see statues to people and Washington Monuments and the rest who we respect. Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln. Heroes, they would want us to be talking about the future, your future. So everything we do here is about you. It’s not necessarily … They would want it to be about looking forward, not looking back. So let’s just think about what are the values, the vision, the perspective that we enshrine and how that benefits our children rather than having a big fight about was somebody worth it. We know they’re not worth it if they committed treason against the United States. Thank you all very much.