Sep 17, 2020
Speaker Nancy Pelosi Press Conference Transcript September 17
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference on September 17. She discussed the HEROES Act. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:13)
That’s whoever is here. Good morning, everyone. We gather at a very sad time for our country. In another day or so, we will go past the 200,000 mark of those who have died from the coronavirus. Millions of people infected. It didn’t have to be this way. We extend our sympathy and our condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones, to the families who have suffered the impaction and are still dealing with that. This virus has also had an impact on the economy of our country and it’s very clear that until we, and this has been said by the chairman of the Fed yesterday, the economy will come back when we have a solution to the coronavirus. We can’t fully come back until then. The solution is as plain as the nose on your face and the mask you use to cover it. Science, science, science has provided us with a path for a long time now. Those recommendations were contained in legislation that passed overwhelmingly in a bipartisan way. In the Congress, our first bill on March 4th was about testing, testing, testing, and yet the administration has failed to embrace that.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:05)
But I’m not here to talk about then. We’re talking about now and how we go forward, and how we go forward has been explained very clearly in our HEROES Act. The provisions that were provided by the Energy and Commerce Committee under the leadership of Chairman Frank Pallone are a clear path to how we can help crush this virus, how we can stop its spread, how we can better open up our economy and our schools so that everyone can return to work and school safely. And I thank him for his leadership on that and you will be hearing from him.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:51)
First we’ll hear though from Jim Clyburn, the Democratic whip of the House of Representatives, also the chair of our select committee on the coronavirus crisis. And I salute him for the bright light that he is shining on how the path we are on is being conducted and how the resources we have allocated are meeting the test of what they set out to do. The work of the committee has been exemplary. All of the committee members have made a very valuable contribution to the debate one way or another.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:32)
We’re also joined by two members of the freshman class. Both of them came to Congress bringing credentials that made them good judges of how we go forward with legislation that relates to the health and wellbeing of the American people. Lauren Underwood brings her experience as a healthcare professional, and she will talk about this, her professional work is part of the Obama administration and her connection to the Affordable Care Act.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:04)
And Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, congresswoman, is a powerful voice for the urgent need for sufficient testing. I first met her on her campaign as we visited healthcare providing institutions. That was before the coronavirus. So her leadership on this is about the good health of the American people broadly and specifically in terms of this virus, and I salute her and thank her for her relentless leadership on this issue here. Her leadership and that of Lauren Underwood have been really a force in the freshman class.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:47)
We will later be joined by Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer. I salute the Senate Democrats for their strong voices in calling for what is necessary to crush the virus. What is necessary to crush the virus so that we can go forward in a very, very positive way. With that, I’m pleased to yield to the distinguished Democratic whip of the House of Representatives, the chair of the select committee on the coronavirus crisis, a gentleman from South Carolina, Jim Clyburn.
Jim Clyburn: (05:28)
Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. Our nation is in the midst of a public health catastrophe. We are rapidly approaching more than 200,000 confirmed American deaths and the virus is still spreading rapidly. At the very first public briefing held by the select committee, public health experts, including two former FDA commissioners appointed by Republican presidents, discussed the importance of testing, tracing, and targeted containment. Regrettably, more than seven months after the virus claimed its first American life, the federal government has still not yet incorporated these recommendations into a national strategy to protect the American people.
Jim Clyburn: (06:32)
Back in April, the administration considered implementing a national strategy, but decided not to do so, because at the time the virus was primarily spreading in blue states. A public health expert who worked closely with the White House coronavirus taskforce recalled, and I quote, “The political folks believe that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors and that would be any effective political strategy.” End of quote.
Jim Clyburn: (07:16)
Just yesterday, we saw the president still employing this political strategy, boasting that there would be fewer deaths, and I’m quoting him here, “if you take the blue states out.” That is unconscionable. Instead of addressing this shortfall at a national level, the president and his political advisors are continuing to downplay the problem and undermine scientific recommendations. The select committee is investigating several instances of political meddling and we’re all determined to provide the truth to the American people.
Jim Clyburn: (08:08)
On October 2nd, Secretary Azar, Alex Azar, the secretary of HHS, will be appearing before the select committee. This will be the first time he has testified before Congress since February and we are going to urge him to make improvements to save American lives. The administration’s failures have prolonged this crisis, resulting in tens of thousands of preventable deaths and worsened economic devastation. Make no mistake. Contrary to what the president says, public health experts and economists alike agree that the only way we are going to fix this economy is to stop the spread of this virus.
Jim Clyburn: (09:08)
We all hope that a safe, effective vaccine is found as soon as possible, but this finding must be based on sound science, not partisan politics. And we will need to ensure that the vaccine is distributed effectively, efficiently, and equitably, because what science tells us is how we can save lives not based on who has the most money or the best political connections. President Trump’s continued insistence that the coronavirus will just go away is a dangerous, wistful thoughtful. It’s far past time for the White House to acknowledge reality, correct its failures, and finally provide the leadership we need to fight this pandemic.
Jim Clyburn: (10:22)
Congress must provide the resources needed for a national strategy, and that’s what the HEROES Act meets. It meets the needs of the American people. And I am hopeful that we can soon get wise to the science and do what is necessary to save lives, get our children back in school, get people back to work, and get the economy moving again. We must get beyond this pandemic and that’s why we are here. And with that, I’m pleased to yield to the distinguished chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Chairman Pallone.
Frank Pallone: (11:11)
Thank you, Mr. Clyburn, and I really want to commend you for all your efforts with the special committee, particularly the effort to make sure that the CARES Act was carried forth and basically revealing the problems that we’ve had with this administration and some of the private companies in terms of fraud and abuse. I really appreciate that. But let me also say this. A day does not go by without our speaker, Nancy Pelosi, talking about the importance of testing, testing, testing, testing. I think the members of the caucus, they just expect that she’s going to come in there and say the word testing from day one. And that’s why she’s having this press conference today, because we really want to reemphasize the importance of testing and having adequate funding for testing, because we know that that’s the only way that we’re going to crush this virus and we’re going to be able to fully reopen the economy.
Frank Pallone: (12:10)
But the problem is, and what I want to stress in my time here is that the shortage of testing continues. In other words, I think a lot of people think that because the president says, “Well, anybody can be tested.” It is simply not true. The reality is, and just give you some figures, that right now only about 800,000 tests are conducted daily when the public health experts say we need to be doing at least four million every day in order to effectively contain the virus. The fact of the matter is that the states have been running out of money to do the testing. I’ll use my own example of New Jersey. We estimated when the CARES Act passed that we would need $1.2 billion to do the testing that was approved by the federal government for us to do. We only got half of that. We haven’t had any money from the federal government …
Frank Pallone: (13:03)
We only got half of that. We haven’t had any money from the federal government for testing for almost two months. And you could talk to anybody from Texas, Sheila Jackson Lee has talked to me about this. So many others around the states that are simply not able to do the testing and also the contact tracing that goes along with it. And what we did in the Heroes Act, and that’s why the speakers and all of us are reemphasizing this today, is to have a national strategy for testing and contact tracing with clear benchmarks and clear timetables. I’m not going to read you the language, but substantively it sets up a national plan to actually do the testing and contact tracing that’s necessary.
Frank Pallone: (13:41)
And when I talk about the contact tracing in this context, let me give you an example, again, from my home state. Our numbers had really gone down over the summer, in terms of the people contracting or getting the virus. And then all of a sudden at the Jersey Shore, in my district, and at some other places, Rutgers football team parties, parties with kids, the contact tracing showed that when the numbers started to go up a little again, that it came directly from those parties and the governor was able to act and take enforcement actions so we didn’t have a lot of those parties. It was the contact tracing of the people that got the virus that they went back and were able to find out what its source was.
Frank Pallone: (14:25)
This is how you crush the virus. You do the testing. You do the contact tracing, and then you can figure out exactly what needs to be done. But the problem is that that’s not happening around the country right now. And also we have very uneven playing field here, right? When the government was supposed, when the White House Task Force was basically around, and they said, “We are going to prove state plans for testing and contact tracing.” They set a minimum of like a 2%. Some states were even less than that. Some states were 2% summer, some are at 6%, some have gone higher. It needs to be uniform.
Frank Pallone: (15:07)
And also, we got to get the supplies out. The states are still not getting the supplies for this testing. They’re running into shortages again. They’re having problems with different types of testing. If you have a national plan that’s set forth in the Heroes Act and the money to go along with it, you’ll be able to do this much more effectively.
Frank Pallone: (15:27)
And we also need the money. In the Heroes Act we have $75 billion for contact tracing and testing. In the skinny bill the other day, McConnell put forth only 16. That’s a discrepancy of over $50 billion. You cannot do this effectively unless you have the adequate resources that we have in the Heroes Act.
Frank Pallone: (15:48)
And let me just say this. I know that everybody’s hoping for a vaccine and I am praying every day for a vaccine, but we know that that may not happen as quickly as we like. And the fact of the matter is we can not say, ” Okay, we’ll wait for the vaccine.” We have to do this testing now if we’re going to crush the virus. And thank you again, and let me now introduce Lauren Underwood, one of our new members, who’s been very much involved in some of the provisions of the Heroes Act that relate to this testing issue as well.
Lauren Underwood: (16:23)
Well, thank you, Chairman Pallone. And Madam Speaker, thank you for bringing us together to underscore the urgency of the investments that we’ve made in the Heroes Act to expand access to COVID-19 diagnostic testing. As a proud registered nurse, I am steeped in a clinical profession marked not only by compassion, but also an unshakable commitment to science.
Lauren Underwood: (16:46)
Driven by my commitment and background to healthcare, I came to Congress to be a data-driven, evidence-based policy maker. And that background has never been more important than when COVID-19 began to spread across our country and around the world. Throughout this pandemic, we’ve seen the critical importance of trusting science, and we’ve seen the unacceptable cost of rejecting it.
Lauren Underwood: (17:10)
When House Democrats passed the Heroes Act 124 days ago, we made an investment guided by clear evidence. The best tool that we have to contain COVID-19 is a robust testing infrastructure that will allow us to identify where the virus is spreading and act swiftly to protect others from getting infected. And yet, while experts called for the United States to ramp up testing, President Trump admits he directed his team to quote, “Slow the testing down.” And although the Heroes Act included $75 billion to provide our public health leaders with the testing resources that they need to keep our community safe, Senate Republicans won’t even bring this bill to the floor for a vote.
Lauren Underwood: (18:01)
Because the president has failed to meet his responsibilities, to keep Americans safe from this virus, and because Senate Republicans have thus far neglected to pursue legislation that meets the moment, our small businesses are devastated, our schools cannot safely reopen, more than 195,000 of our fellow Americans have tragically died and over 6.5 Million will forever have a new preexisting condition.
Lauren Underwood: (18:29)
It didn’t have to be this way. We can look at the successes of our allies around the world whose leaders didn’t downplay COVID-19 when it arrived at their shores. They listened to experts, implemented testing strategies and invested in the medical equipment and supplies that would be needed to fight this once in a century crisis.
Lauren Underwood: (18:50)
As we head into the fall and face, the prospect that COVID-19 transmission will worsen, we must pass heroes act and provide the funding for testing initiatives that will be necessary to save lives and protect our communities. America cannot afford another day of Republican inaction. Our communities need the Heroes Act now. Thank you. And it’s my honor to introduce my colleague Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell: (19:23)
Thank you, my dear friend. Thank you so much, Madame Speaker for holding this press conference today. Let me say Madam Speaker, you’re absolutely correct. I’ve spent years working in healthcare and talking to top public health experts, epidemiologists, and I can say this, they are not political, they don’t care about party affiliation, they spend their entire career studying infectious diseases and understanding how to crush down viruses like coronavirus. And I know that families across the country and also in my own district, Florida’s 26th district, are frustrated, they’re anxious, they’re heartbroken because they’ve lost their loved ones. And now we’ve been dealing with this virus for seven months.
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell: (20:09)
The administration’s failed response to this pandemic has lost us now nearly 200,000 American lives. And it has plunged us into an economic recession worse than the Great Depression. And we know that we don’t have to be where we are. We know how to get this done here in the House of Representatives.
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell: (20:32)
I want to take us back to the month of May. We asked Americans to make a sacrifice, to say home, to keep their kids at home, trying to go through online learning. Our small businesses had to shut down.
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell: (20:49)
Because we knew we had to act swiftly in the House of Representatives, the Democrats passed the Heroes Act so that we can provide the funding necessary to support a very comprehensive and strong public health infrastructure to increase and expand testing, to make sure that we implement contact tracing, to have spaces available to quarantine those that have the virus so that we can safely reopen, so parents can feel safe to once again send their kids back to school and our small businesses, whether at a quarter capacity, 50% capacity or 100% capacity in certain areas could safely reopened.
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell: (21:31)
But unfortunately, the Senate and this administration have completely turned their backs on mothers and fathers, [foreign language 00:08:42], by not taking any action. And what has happened. This virus has spread and our families and our children have paid the ultimate price.
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell: (21:55)
Take my home state of Florida. Because the governor took his cues from the president over the advice of our top public health experts, we became an international hotspot in July and August for coronavirus. Floridians waited for hours to be tested and waited a week, sometimes even two weeks to get the results of their tests. And now we have marked over 13,000 Floridians who have lost their lives.
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell: (22:21)
Yes, I cannot help, but agonize over how avoidable this tragedy was, but we can’t keep wishing that the virus doesn’t exist and not take any action. We know what we need to do to be able to crush the spread of coronavirus and get people back to work and make sure that parents feel safe to send their kids back to school.
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell: (22:45)
All of these answers lie in the Heroes Act, which provides us with the tools needed to act aggressively and comprehensively in this moment. It gives us $75 billion for the testing capability that health experts have recommended for months. With the Heroes Act, we know we can contain the virus, reopen our schools and business safely and regain the trust of Americans across the country and those that want to once again, visit our beautiful state of Florida so that we can get back America on track.
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell: (23:16)
Inaction is irresponsible, shortsighted and disrespectful to American families or small businesses, and most importantly, our children. What we need right now is to pass the Heroes Act. And we need that now. Thank you.
Nancy Pelosi: (23:34)
Thank you very much. My colleagues for your very informed statements and idealistic approach to how we protect all Americans. When you talk about the administration ignoring the facts and the Senate, that means the Republicans in the Senate. We’re very proud of the leadership of Leader Schumer, as I mentioned earlier, proud of all the Senate Democrats for recognizing the need for us to base our decisions on science, science, science, and that means testing, testing, tracing, treatment, mask wearing, separation, ventilation, you name it. The scientist had made it very clear what we need to do to crush the virus and a real champion in doing that is our distinguished democratic leader from the Senate. It’s always a pleasure to welcome him back over to the House side where many of us had the privilege of serving with him for many years. Mr. Schumer.
Mr. Schumer: (24:41)
Thank you. Thank you, Speaker Pelosi. It’s always a joy to hear you and all the things you say and put it so well, so thank you. I thank all of my colleagues. I’m sorry. I didn’t hear them. I did hear a Representative Mucarsel-Powell and she’s doing a very good job representing all my former constituents who moved to Florida. When I was in Congress, they said the only place I could get elected other than Brooklyn was Fort Lauderdale.
Mr. Schumer: (25:12)
Anyway, it’s great to be here. And testing is the key to crushing the coronavirus early, but the Trump administration totally failed to meet the moment and the virus spread out of control. The first place that was really hit hard was the city of New Rochelle in Westchester. And the day that corona was discovered there, I called him up, Mayor Bramson. I said, Mayor, what do you need?” He said, “If you could get me 70,000 tests, I could test all the people of New Rochelle and the ones who had COVID, we’d say, “Stay isolated for two weeks and we’ll try to treat you.” And the others could walk on the streets, shop in the stores, et cetera.” And he said, “But because we have no tests, everyone has to be isolated.” And that story.
Mr. Schumer: (26:03)
Everyone has to be isolated and that story could be repeated over and over and over again throughout the country and it shows how Donald Trump has just let this country down. How under Donald Trump’s lack of leadership, that coronavirus got far worse in America than any other developed country. He denied there was a shortage, he downplayed there was a need, he deflected blame, he even blamed President Obama, and by the way I cannot resist, his remarks yesterday were outrageous that if you count only the … If you don’t count the people who died in the blue states COVID wouldn’t be so bad. Is that unbelievable? What does he say to someone [inaudible 00:26:50] governors, so someone in California or New York [inaudible 00:26:54] or New Jersey or Illinois who passed away, what does he say to their families? You don’t count, we’re only counting people in the red states. What a despicable man. How low can he go?
Mr. Schumer: (27:11)
I gave a speech on the floor where I was very, very aggravated about what he said. So testing is key. We Democrats have been urging testing for such a long time. On March 6 I called the president up. I said, “What about invoking the DPA to get enough tests?” He said he was going to do it, that’s a good idea. He called in someone. While he was on the phone, let’s get DPA done, three hours later they said they’re not going to do it and they still aren’t doing it. Hmm?
Nancy Pelosi: (27:39)
Defense Production Act.
Mr. Schumer: (27:42)
Oh Defense Production Act, excuse me. DPA. Yes. Thank you Mr. Clyburn. The president invoked DPA only for, Defense Production Act only for MPs, meat plants, sorry. I’m being very senatorial now. He only invoked it for meat plants because he had friends in the meat business, but when it came to testing, he didn’t need it, an utter failure of leadership. It’s been seven months, we still haven’t heard of a serious plan to fix our broken supply chain. No plan to expand lab capacity, no plan to increase manufacturing capacity. He just left it up to the states and the hospitals and the other healthcare institutions to hunt and pick themselves.
Mr. Schumer: (28:35)
It’s September 17 and President Trump still doesn’t have an adequate national testing strategy. So Democrats in the House joined by our Senate Democrats came up with the answer, the $75 billion in testing and tracing funding that’s in the HEROES Act. These funds are essential to crush the virus and safely reopen schools and the economy, but our Senate Republicans, led by keeper of the graveyard Leader McConnell, the White House led by this divisive, nasty, how low can you go president, have refused to do it.
Mr. Schumer: (29:17)
So to honor the nearly 200,000 lives that were lost, Democrats in the House and in the Senate will keep fighting for a comprehensive plan that meets the needs of all of those who have been hurt by COVID and are still struggling. Thank you.
Nancy Pelosi: (29:41)
Thank you very much Mr. Leader for honoring us with your presence. I know you have a busy schedule on the Senate side so thank you so much for making the point so clearly that we have a plan and that’s what is really important for America’s families to know. There is a plan, there has been a plan. It has been rejected but we will further assert it. It doesn’t happen without resources. So when we had $75 billion in the plan that Mr. Pallone put forth and supported by House and Senate Democrats, the Republicans said, “We have 15, you have 75, let’s compromise, we’ll go to 16.” Oh really? Do you not understand the gravity of the situation? Either you do not understand the gravity of the situation or don’t care, but the fact is that 200,000 people in another day or so will have lost their lives to this disregard for science. Could we have saved every one? No, but many people, yes. So our purpose here today is to say to the families of America, we have a plan, we have had a plan. It’s a plan that takes responsibility for testing, tracing, treatment, separation, ventilation, mask wearing, and the rest.
Nancy Pelosi: (31:03)
We know that that will save lives. That will curb the virus, crush the virus and again, enable us to open our economy and our schools more safely. A number of months will go by until we get a vaccine and we all pray as Mr. Pallone said, we pray for a vaccine. We hope that it will be soon and that it will be available as Mr. Clyburn said equitably. I will add ethically to everyone in our country, but we can’t have it one day before it is ready. We don’t want it one day later, or one day sooner than it is ready, and that means we cannot have political interference into the production of the discovery of that vaccine. We thank our scientists who are working so hard on it. Great minds in our country working 24/ 7 to produce that and when we get that, we have to have an ethical distribution system that makes it available to everyone. Because everyone has to have that access.
Nancy Pelosi: (32:11)
Right now, the disparity of the assault of this virus on the American people is appalling. A Hispanic child may be five times, a Hispanic person, five times more likely to go to the hospital because of coronavirus than a white child. Even greater numbers for African-American community. That’s just not right. So when it comes to COVID and the rest of it, we have to have scientific and fair treatment of all Americans. Testing, tracing, treatment, separation, mask wearing and the rest. Relying on science. With that, if there are any questions on this subject. Yes sir.
Speaker 1: (33:08)
Through the context of this subject –
Nancy Pelosi: (33:10)
Just on this subject. I’ll take questions after but I don’t want to hold up my folks on anything other than this right now.
Speaker 1: (33:12)
[inaudible 00:33:12] given the scale of what we are describing here, the magnitude of it, [inaudible 00:33:14] $2.2 trillion as the absolute floor, red line for any negotiations.
Nancy Pelosi: (33:21)
Well we have come down. I know some of you say why can’t you compromise. We have compromised. We came down a trillion dollars. We asked them to go up a trillion dollars. Instead they went down. Not recognizing the need. Mr. Schumer and I further went down and said we’ll meet you halfway and that’s where we are. Since that time, my members will attest the needs have only grown since May 15, four months ago, now, and two days ago. The needs have only grown. Some of the needs for the small businesses, needs for restaurants, needs for transportation and the rest. So we’re going to have to reallocate some of that money so that we can meet the needs as we see them. The fact is we shouldn’t be going down because we have these needs so that we can open up our economy as we crush the virus. But again, what they …
Nancy Pelosi: (34:23)
We have a massive problem in our country. We have a massive problem and they put forth not only a skinny bill, as Mr. Schumer says an emaciated bill, and so I’m so proud that all the Senate Democrats voted against that, but it takes money. We spent trillions of dollars shoring up the credit in our country. Look at the statement of the Chairman of the Fed yesterday, he attests to that, and that’s important to the stock market and we don’t object to the stock market doing well, that’s for sure. But why can’t we spend what it takes to shore up the middle class in our country? So again, when we go into negotiation, it’s about the allocation of the resources, but it’s hard to see how we can go any lower when you only have greater needs. Yes sir.
Speaker 2: (35:23)
We’ve heard a lot from moderate Democrats saying why not do some sort of a more narrow bill and then what do you say to these members, [inaudible 00:35:23] swing districts [inaudible 00:35:27] “Madam Speaker, we realize [inaudible 00:35:31] but let’s do something.” What’s your response.
Nancy Pelosi: (35:37)
They don’t say that actually.
Speaker 2: (35:38)
But they did.
Nancy Pelosi: (35:39)
They did not say that actually. They don’t say it to me. What they say is we need to have a solution and we want the best possible agreement that we can for America’s working families. You may have by anecdotally someone who may say I don’t care how small it is, I want it just to go, I have not heard that. I’m very proud of our members. We have three kind of arenas. One, we want to bring the $3.4 trillion to the floor again. Others who say we cannot bring anything to the floor unless we have an agreement because we want it to work for the American people, and that is what we’re striving for. Others will say let’s just put our own proposal on the floor.
Nancy Pelosi: (36:28)
Yeah, so you hear different things, but the fact is, we want to have an agreement and we will stay until we have an agreement and why don’t you go ask the Republicans why they don’t want to feed the 14 million hungry children in America who are food insecure, or maybe address the needs of the millions of American families who are on the verge of eviction or why they have a disdain for state and local government which are our heroes, healthcare workers, teachers, first responders, police and fire, transportation, sanitation, food workers. We could not function as a country without the work that they do and yet they say, “Oh, they’re blue states, we’re not sending any money there.” Disdain for state and local government which the Fed says is very important to our economy. Contempt for science, but we’re not here to go there. We are here to say we can stop this and we have a plan to do it. So let’s just do the plan and exactly the plan that scientists and academics are putting forth. Testing, tracing, treatment, separation, ventilation, mask wearing, washing your hands, well that’s the sanitation part.
Nancy Pelosi: (37:48)
Let’s just do what we know needs to be done without contempt for science and with respect for every person in our country. I’m very excited about the dynamism in my caucus so that you know. It’s a vitality that I thrive on so again, we’re in a good place, don’t you think Mr. Clyburn?
James Clyburn: (38:14)
Nancy Pelosi: (38:16)
Any of you want to respond to that?
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell: (38:24)
You know, I think that we politicize every single issue here in Washington, D.C. and I can tell you something that this plan is based like the speaker said on science and don’t underestimate the unity of our caucus. We know what we need to do. That’s why we passed HEROES in May. We’re having discussions on what other bills if any in addition to HEROES need to be addressed or studied but don’t underestimate the fact that we all want the same thing which is to support parents that are trying to send their kids back to school. We need to reopen small businesses that have yet to reopen because –
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell: (39:03)
We need to reopen small businesses that have yet to reopen because they don’t have the assistance. I have local cities that are running out of money to pay for their first responders. Those are our priorities, and they’re not political. They make sense. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. The virus is still out there. That has not changed, we can’t ignore the fact. We have to be safe, we have to make sure that we have the resources available so that we can get our economy back on track. That’s our priority.
Jim Clyburn: (39:35)
In order to get food on our tables we rely on farm workers and rely on people who work in grocery stores. This plan of ours, the Heroes Act, takes care of these people, not the plan coming from the Senate. If we want to get to and fro to our jobs, our homes, we have transit workers. We’ve had them before our committee testifying as to how little regard is given to their safety. One of the most nationally acclaimed stories came from a transit worker who yelled at someone for coughing without a mask on, and he was dead three days later from the virus. This plan takes care of him. We have small town mayors calling us every day about having to lay off their two or three person police force because they have not gotten the assistance they need. Our plan takes care of them, not the Senate plan. The President keeps talking about liking to play it down. That’s good in a golf game, but when it comes to the American people, we need to play it clean. We need to come clean. Picking clean is the best application.
Nancy Pelosi: (41:06)
Thank you, [inaudible 00:41:07]. Thank you again, Mr. Pallone for his extraordinary leadership on this subject. He brings so much history and knowledge and again, respect for science to the proposal that he put forth. And we cannot do anything less if we expect to crush the virus. We would call upon our Republican colleagues to stop crushing the Affordable Care Act instead in court and here and elsewhere and taking away the preexisting condition benefit, which is even now more important when we see what is happening with the coronavirus. So I think our distinguished whip for the leadership he has in making sure as we go forward that we understand what has worked and what hasn’t as we go forward. I thank Mr. Pallone for the plan, it is a plan. Taking responsibility to open up our economy and our schools safely. I’m very proud of our freshmen members who bring their knowledge of health issues in their communities and in their professions.
Nancy Pelosi: (42:15)
Lauren Underwood, thank you for your leadership and your strong statement. Debra Mucarsel-Powell, thank you for yours. Two states, Florida and Illinois, California, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, the leader who just left. We all bring our experience to all of this, and as we mourn the loss of the 200,000, we will have appropriate remembrances in the capitol. We are leaving for the Jewish Holy Day this weekend, but as we return, we will return to pay our respects and offer our sympathy to the families who are so affected by that. Of course I won’t be here. But I also want to say that in our communities, in the West we have these wildfires which have destroyed millions of acres, taken many lives. And in the Gulf coast we have the storms that now the rain is spreading. All of this, again, has a scientific answer in terms of climate. Again, science in contempt on the part of the administration when he was in California saying, “Science doesn’t know.” No, science knows and science knows better. So as we go forward, let us do so. But if people say to me, “As a Catholic, it’s either faith or science. Choose.” I said, “No, science is an answer to our prayers, and may it bring us a vaccine soon.” Thank you all very much.
Speaker 3: (43:56)
Speaker Pelosi, can I ask you a quick Brexit question? Just very briefly about the Dominic Raab last night. Did he give you any reassurances on Brexit?
Nancy Pelosi: (44:21)
Speaker 3: (44:21)
And then what was your reaction to Joe Biden’s Tweet last night? A very positive Tweet voicing his support for the Good Friday Agreement.
Nancy Pelosi: (44:21)
Speaker 3: (44:22)
So the first one was that Dominic Raab last night [inaudible 00:44:22] reassurances, and then also last night we saw Joe Biden Tweeting, voicing a very strong support himself for the Good Friday Agreement.
Nancy Pelosi: (44:22)
Yeah. So I didn’t see the Joe Biden Tweet, but this is a subject about the Brexit as it relates to the Good Friday Accords. We have, in a bipartisan way, bicameral, have valued the Good Friday Accords not as an issue but as a value for our country. President Clinton, George Mitchell, and the other side, so many people worked so hard for such a long time to bring peace. So last year I brought a delegation really led by Richie Neal, the chair of the Ways and Means Committee, but also co-chair with Peter King of the Friends of Ireland in the Congress. I point there because they sat there with the Taoiseach in March. And the meeting that we had yesterday was with the foreign minister of the United Kingdom. We have been very clear in saying to the United Kingdom, if you do harm to the Good Friday Accords, and your Brexit arrangements do not count on any bilateral US, UK trade agreement. Bipartisan, bicameral support for the Good Friday Accords.
Nancy Pelosi: (45:46)
To your question, the foreign minister was very positive about the Good Friday Accords and gave us assurances that there would be no construction or physical barriers at the border. But there are other issues, as you know. And we visited last year, was the 21st anniversary, the 20th was the bigger celebration the year before, but we went last year. And when we were in Belfast, the speaker of the assembly there, he had an enormous reception, want to say it was like a rally, of all kids, all kids. And the two speakers were seniors in high school, one Catholic, one Protestant. And both of them said, “We’ve lived our whole lives in peace because of the Good Friday Accords. We’re not going back.”
Speaker 3: (46:41)
Do you feel better optimism is the ground or do you still have your concerns? And are you seeking further reassurance?
Nancy Pelosi: (46:46)
Well a meeting is a meeting. It was nice to… We are good friends of the UK, they’re a valued relationship to the United States, but not to the undoing.
Speaker 3: (46:58)
On that very front, during the last briefing you spoke very eloquently about how concerned you were that Britain might indeed break international treaty. And it does beg the question of whether you, since Dominic Raab made clear to you yesterday, why you explained you were terrified if he didn’t retreat. Do you still fear that Britain will do that? And does that raise questions for you about whether Britain’s word is still its bond?
Nancy Pelosi: (47:23)
Well, I won’t go into other Britain’s word as it’s bond, but I will say that the international treaty that was signed was signed with respect for the Good Friday Accords, and what happened on Labor Day, and as I told the foreign minister, my phone exploded. It was labor day and I’m thinking, “Where’s this all coming from?” Because hours before in a different time zone the UK had departed from its commitment in the treaty with the EU on the Good Friday Accords. So in any event, respectful of what the Brits decide for themselves, but having them understand that the Good Friday Accords, any disruption of that in a serious way would be not met. President Trump was saying, “Well, don’t worry about EU. You can just have a bilateral trade agreement with the US.” Not so fast. That’s an act of Congress. The chairman of the committee of jurisdiction is Richie Neal, the co-chair of the Friends of Ireland, and there’s bipartisan, bicameral resistance to any such bilateral.
Nancy Pelosi: (48:38)
So I’m not going into whose word is trusted. It just was a departure from what was said in the agreement. And we’ll see where it goes from here. Making sure they understand about the bilateral but also hopeful that they will reach their agreement. Last year, the end of the year we had a big event for Richie Neal, honoring him. And all the Irish groups from all over came to honor him, and that was the very day, and that evening they told us, the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister have come to agreement on something on the Good Friday Accords. So we were thrilled. They were trusting, we were thrilled, and it was even an additional cause for celebration. And that arrangement was what was represented, my understanding is, in the EU treaty which was then rolled back in the statements that were made. Now we’ll see where we go from here. I think we all understand each other. Thank you so much. Thank you.