Aug 7, 2020
Speaker Nancy Pelosi & Senator Chuck Schumer Press Conference Transcript August 7
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer held a press conference on August 7. Speaker Pelosi said, “we believe we have a responsibility to try to find common ground” as they discussed ongoing negotiations with Republicans about the coronavirus relief bill. Read the full speech transcript here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
Good morning, everyone. As I know you are keeping track. Today marks 12 weeks since we passed the Heroes Act in the house of representatives, a bill to open up our economy by testing, tracing, treatment, masks, sanitation, distancing, and the rest that honored our heroes so-called because they are risking their lives to save lives. Now they may be losing their jobs. In fact, a million and half had, that have already. That would be our healthcare workers, our first responders, our teachers, our sanitation, transportation, food workers, who are all employees of state and local government, to meet the needs of the American people. One and a half million already, at least, have been laid off, gone onto unemployment. That’s not a savings and it is a disservice to their constituents. It also, there was projected to be 3.6 million more laid off in the weeks ahead, unless we do something to protect our heroes. We lose all moral authority to praise them, to thank them and then say, but we don’t want to spend money to have you keep your job. Then third, to put money in the pockets of the American people.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:22)
It’s about the lives, the livelihood and the life of our democracy. We have some concerns about census, postal service, protection of our elections, safety in the workplace with OSHA and the rest. In that time, in that 12 weeks that you remember, that right then and there, when we passed the bill, the Republican leader in the Senate said he was going to, we needed a pause. He pushed the pause button. He pushed the pause button. In that period of time, in these 12 weeks, about three and a half million people have been infected, added to the roles of those infected. 70 million, excuse me, 70,000 have died. 70,000 in these 12 weeks,
Nancy Pelosi: (02:17)
Three and a half million infected. Last week, he comes back finally from the pause with a piecemeal proposal that does not meet the needs of the American people. As you know, we had been mightily trying to find common ground with our colleagues. It’s hard when your values are so different in terms of bubble up from the working class families, instead of trickled down from above. Yesterday, I offered to them, we’ll take down a trillion if you add a trillion in. They said, “Absolutely not.” If we could do that, if we take down a trillion and they add a trillion, we’ll be within range. We’ll be within range, but we must meet the needs of the American people. We could come down some because we can change the dates of exploration, the rest of that, but not undermine our priorities to meet the needs of the American people.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:15)
We’re in a different place. Again, we believe in science and governance in terms of addressing the virus that we need to do, and that’s how we’re going to open our economy in terms of livelihoods. We’re honoring our heroes. It doesn’t do anything for our economy to have more people on unemployment, especially when they are our heroes. Save schools, we’re in a different place because we are listening to what is happening in communities where they’re telling us largely, they want to have a virtual, out of the hundred top, the largest school districts. Over 60 said they’re going to have all virtual. Some are hybrid. A very few, actually in-person schooling. We want as many kids as possible to go to school, but we have to make it safe for them to do so. Then we have housing insecurity. We have food insecurity.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:22)
The list goes on and on. I wrote to my colleagues about this today. You’ve probably seen that. This is about, I see everything through the eyes of the children. Their food insecurity, their housing insecurity. We can’t have our children be hungry. We can’t have them be a homeless and we can not have them be afraid to go to school. If we are going to be able to have more people go to work, we need childcare. It’s always about the children for me. Again, we’ll be meeting this afternoon and I will once again, make the offer, we’ll come down a trillion, you go up a trillion and then we’ll be within range of each other. Again, this is a very different set of values across the table. Trickle down, bubble up. The distinguished leader from the Senate, Mr. Schumer.
Chuck Schumer: (05:17)
Now, I am bubbling up. Well, thank you. Whoops. Sorry. Thank you very much speaker, once again, for your strong, passionate and eloquent leadership. Let me just say, we saw the jobs report and it’s clear the economy is losing steam. That means we need big bold investments in America to help average folks. When the economy starts losing ground, the only choice is for a strong package. Yet, at times yesterday, our Republican friends seemed willing to walk away from the negotiating table to do an unworkable week and narrow executive orders, which are not going to do the job for the American people. We are committed to negotiating. As we said, we are willing to make compromises. Our bill, the Heroes bill is at three, four. Theirs is at one. The speaker made a very fair offer. Let’s narrow it each. You should have seen the vehemence. “No.” I said, “You mean, after she said we’ll go down a trillion, you go up a trillion.”
Chuck Schumer: (06:35)
We didn’t specify where or when. It’s mainly in terms of dates, but that’s okay. You should have seen their faces. “Absolutely not.” I said, “You mean, you want it to go almost all in your direction or you won’t negotiate.” They said, “Yeah.” We are trying to compromise. The spin that they’re putting it on, that we haven’t moved off is belied by what happened. They’re the ones stuck. They say, basically what’s happening is Mr. Meadows is from the tea party. You have 20 Republicans in the Senate, greatly influenced by them. They don’t want to spend the necessary dollars to help get America out of this mess. Ideology sort of blinds. We need a bill. There are only really two choices for our Republican negotiating friends. They can do a strong bill with Democrats and they have to realize they’re going to need a majority. They’re going to need all the Democrats to vote for it in the house. A majority of Democrats to vote for it in the Senate. They don’t have the votes in the Senate. That means they’ve got to meet us in terms of moving.
Chuck Schumer: (07:51)
They can’t just say no and do it our way or their other choice is to do some weak insufficient executive orders that just won’t do the job for the people we all want to help. It’s not that the executive orders might be negative, but they’re totally insufficient. They’re insufficient in two ways. What they do is difficult because it seems, and no one knows what they’re going to do, but they can’t spend money. They can only forward money. If you do a payroll tax cut, then after it expires, both businesses and workers have a huge payment to make. You do unemployment and you lend the state’s money. They’re stuck. They don’t have the money. They may not want to do it. In terms of tenants, yeah. Delaying evictions is necessary, but not sufficient because once the delay is over, the tenant owes a tremendous amount of money. By the way, the landlord, many of whom are small little landlords, haven’t gotten paid and they can’t pay their mortgages and their bills. There’s a fourth one.
Chuck Schumer: (09:11)
The college loans again is deferral. You don’t pay for a few months and then you have more to pay. It is much better. Our colleagues admitted that yesterday, to do a strong, robust bill, but they seem unable. The biggest problem with the executive orders is not what they do, but who they leave out. They leave out testing, tracing, treatment. We know we’re not going to solve this problem economically until we solve the health problem. Speaker’s been like a lioness, I guess, or a lion. Is lioness okay? Has been like a lioness in pursuing this at every meeting we have been at, and you’re not going to cure that. You’re not going to solve the problem. They still seem unwilling to do what is necessary for a strong testing, tracing and treatment regime. What is one of the biggest problems facing us in the next month?
Chuck Schumer: (10:06)
As the speaker mentioned, schools. Opening up the school safely. If you don’t open up the schools, you’re going to hurt the economy significantly because lots of people can’t go to work. Executive orders leave out schools altogether. State and local services. They came a tiny little bit in our direction on that, but very little, not in the middle or close to it. You can’t do that by executive order. It’s spending and you’ll have firefighters. This is not abstract. This is not government. It is firefighters, sanitation workers, bus drivers, healthcare workers who need to get paid. Elections. I got very excited or firm at the meeting yesterday. This is the wellspring of our democracy. It’s not much money. We need the money to help the States in COVID conduct elections when so much more is going to be by mail and even when you vote in person, you need more polling places.
Chuck Schumer: (11:08)
Why are they resisting? It’s a small amount. We’ve asked for $3.6 billion in the Heroes Act. It’s not the money. They almost seem they don’t want elections to be conducted in a full way as possible. They seem that they want certain people not to, almost discouraging them from being able to vote. The post office.
Chuck Schumer: (11:33)
There was a lot of discussion on that. Frankly, we have little faith that they’re not trying to politicize the post office and we need language and legislation to prevent that from happening because again, it’s not the abstract. They don’t like having a government post office, I guess some of them. It’s people getting their medicines. It’s during COVID, a greater Alliance on it and it’s elections. If the ballots are not sent quickly enough, if both the absentee ballots, the application for mail ballots and the ballots themselves are delayed too much. We won’t have a fair election. We talked about food assistance. They do not want to do what’s needed to make sure kids and others don’t go hungry. We talked about utility shut offs. If you’re going to have a moratorium on rent, but people can’t pay their electric bills or their water bills, their homes aren’t that good.
Chuck Schumer: (12:39)
We talked about targeted aid for our communities of color. Many things are left out. The bottom line is this is a flood economically and health wise, of biblical proportion and our Republican friends are looking like they just want to fix a leaky faucet. That’s what’s the difference here. There are real needs. America knows they have real needs. The public is on our side, but they would seem not to be willing to go in a direction that would meet those needs. Instead do executive orders that won’t come close to doing the job that is needed. Speaker.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:21)
As the leader was speaking, I was thinking of the chairman of the fed and the admonition he has given us to think big. They’re doing a lot to shore up the stock market and that’s probably a good thing for the economy. Why can’t they do more to shore up America’s working families. This numbers this morning should be a real cautionary call to them to say the momentum which sprang from government investment, from what we did in the previous bills, that kept the economy going, that people would have money in their pockets, would have consumer confidence, would spend, inject demand into the economy, create jobs. We see that slowing down. Everybody who talks to us from the economic world and all the rest are saying, “Pay now or pay later. This is you’re going to pay more later.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:23)
You’re going to pay more later. You absolutely must have to think in a big way. As we go through all of this, I sometimes quote St. Augustine or Pope Paul or somebody, Pope Paul, the sixth. One thing that I was thinking of as you were speaking, Mr. Leader, Arnold Toynbee. Arnold Toynbee, in his histories of civilization, as you are aware of, he said that when societies are formed, there are two ways they can go. The elite minority that will be ruling could be they’re called the flowering elite. They’re for the flowering of everybody in that society. Or they could be the exploitive elites, the exploited minorities, and they are there for power and money. Power, and money. When these two exist in the same society, there can be a schism of the soul of the society because they’re so different.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:29)
That’s kind of what we’re at that table about. We’re there representing the kitchen table needs, kitchen table needs of the American people. They’re there representing the board conference room table. That is a different perspective. That’s why it takes longer. Now it takes a great deal and I salute my colleagues because they have been very courageous because the other side is going out there and making it like they’re there for children and people in need, working families, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Nothing gives more evidence to it than how they are conducting this.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:10)
Again, we believe we have a responsibility to try to find common ground. We’ll come down a trillion, you go up a trillion and we can figure out how we do that without hurting America’s working families. It’s mostly about how long the initiatives last. It’s not about different priorities. It’s just about shorter periods of time. We have a moral responsibility to find common ground, but where we can’t for the children, we must stand our ground. Yes, ma’am?
Speaker 4: (16:45)
Nancy Pelosi: (16:45)
Oh. You were first yesterday, too.
Speaker 4: (16:47)
Fantastic. I like it. Republicans have been saying that Democrats are not willing to give anything. Now you’re saying you’re willing to come down a trillion.
Nancy Pelosi: (16:59)
We said that yesterday.
Chuck Schumer: (16:59)
We said it last night. They didn’t bring it up, but they heard it and rejected it.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:04)
They were telling the truth when they said that.
Chuck Schumer: (17:05)
Speaker 4: (17:07)
You’re willing to come down to 2.4 trillion or less, and also Congressman Meadows, when he was a Congressman, he was a tea party, freedom caucus, someone who was there to block deals. Do you think that he is negotiating in good faith?
Nancy Pelosi: (17:24)
I certainly hope so. We just have to assume that.
Chuck Schumer: (17:28)
His positions are quite hardened and non compromising. More so than Mnuchin.
Speaker 4: (17:34)
2.4 trillion, you’re willing to come 2.4 trillion or less?
Chuck Schumer: (17:40)
Nancy said, we’ll go down a trillion from our top number, and they’ll go up a trillion and they rejected it totally. We didn’t go over specific numbers where it’s from, but their original is at one, our original, you could say, is at three, four or three, seven, depending on how you treat the tax stuff.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:58)
Our bill, we repealed the over … It’s a $135 billion tax advantage they gave the wealthiest people in our country in the Cares Act. We repealed that, but not only that, we broadened the repeal of some other things as well. We have about 250 in there. Now, if they don’t want to repeal that, then our bill is like two, seven.
Chuck Schumer: (18:26)
Nancy Pelosi: (18:27)
Excuse me, three seven. Chad?
[inaudible 00:18:30]. What are some of the specific things that you have pitched to your office in that bill [inaudible 00:00:18:41]? Okay. This is going to have to take a hit. This is going to have to take a hit.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:49)
Well, no. It’s only about some of the things we have in there go to September 30th, 2021. We can adjust the date. Yes, sir?
Speaker 6: (18:58)
Republicans in the Senate don’t seem to think that [inaudible 00:19:00] votes to pass any bill North of $2 trillion. Are you all open to the idea of going under $2 trillion in order to get it [crosstalk 00:19:10]?
Chuck Schumer: (19:09)
The House doesn’t have the votes to go South of two trillion. The Senate Democrats can’t go South of two trillion. That’s what compromise is all about because there are 20 Republicans who don’t want to vote for anything. That doesn’t mean the whole thing should shift in their direction. You have to meet in the middle.
Speaker 6: (19:25)
It would have to be North of two trillion.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:26)
What I had said is, we have a virus. When we did Cares, the anticipation and the hope was that they would eventually pay attention to science. This would be diminishing. Instead, it’s accelerating. This virus is like a freight train coming so fast and they’re responding like a convoy going as slow as the slowest ship. It just doesn’t work. What we put in our bill is what we saw as necessary to save the lives of the American people, the livelihoods of the American people and the life of our democracy. I’ll say it over and over again.
Chuck Schumer: (20:06)
Sorry. I’ll leave this in my pocket. This is not just a numerical game. I mean, you’re acting like, oh … This is feeding kids, opening schools, employing people, helping people who need help. This is having fair elections. These are very substantive things to us and we will try to meet them somewhere so we can get something done, but it’s not just, oh, they want this. You want that. It’s real needs. That’s what guides us. What seems to guide them is the idea of the government should spend as little money as possible despite the crisis in America.
Nancy Pelosi: (20:46)
What that means is that, as I said last night to some of you, it’s about Sophie’s choice. Who are we going to choose if we’re not going to have enough money to feed everyone, if we’re not going to have enough money to house people, if we’re not giving money to the schools in a way, and by the way, let’s just talk about the schools for a moment. Because when the president says, he’s going to have the bulk of his money go to schools that open, that are in person actual, we say, but not to the others. Many of those virtual or hybrid schools are in neighborhoods that don’t have a high tax brace. When the president says, we’re cutting you out, you’re cutting out kids and title one kids in economically disadvantaged areas, children of color, and some of those areas.
Nancy Pelosi: (21:43)
That’s why we have to say, “Wait a minute. This is for all of America’s children.” It just, doesn’t lucky you coronavirus came along and you lived in a high property tax area and poor you. Just reinforcing the disparity in terms of meeting those children’s needs, reinforcing the disparity in terms of how we address the coronavirus where a high percentage of the deaths now are clearly evidence that they are springing from communities of color. There are so many injustices in here. Again, in order to just say all of the children should be protected, whether it’s from the virus or at home or in school.
Chuck Schumer: (22:31)
Nancy Pelosi: (22:31)
Can we do three?
Chuck Schumer: (22:35)
Okay. One more.
Speaker 7: (22:39)
As President Donald Trump is issuing these executive orders, will Democrats want to continue negotiations on other issues? You mentioned that these executive orders leaves out testing and other issues. Is that an area where you’d be willing to negotiate?
Nancy Pelosi: (22:51)
If and when he does it, we’ll let you know. Thank you.