Mar 31, 2022

Speaker Pelosi Holds Weekly Briefing On Capitol Hill 3/31/22

Speaker Pelosi Holds Weekly Briefing On Capitol Hill 3/31/22
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Speaker Pelosi Holds Weekly Briefing On Capitol Hill 3/31/22. Read the transcript here.

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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
… a little bit late. We have an intense legislative schedule as usual, but some of it is more so today. We have the Insulin Bill coming up on the floor, and we’re very proud of that. We have the MORE Legislation, but at the same time we’re preparing for the Competes Act. And last night we took our most recent step. Today, we’ll have the Republican motion to instruct, which is the right of the minority. At the same time, we’re preparing for actually taking up the Competes Act, so there are all kinds of things happening at once.

Nancy Pelosi: (00:40)
At the same time though, I have to say, it’s with great sadness that we said goodbye to Don Young, our Dean, a member served 49 years in the Congress. 49 years in the 49th state. So beautifully acclaimed at his service the other day. And then, was shocking to learn that he had passed. He wasn’t sick. He just went to heaven.

Nancy Pelosi: (01:10)
And then, Madeline Albright; she had been sick the last few months. And that was a terrible loss for her. A great Patriot. The first woman Secretary of State. She made us all so proud about her commitment to the national security of our country. Especially now, learning from her right up until the end, about her experience coming to the United States as a refugee and seeing what’s happening in Ukraine and all these refugees coming. So for us, one staunch Republican leaving us, someone beloved in our Congress and our… She wasn’t really a partisan in person, but she was a Democrat, Madeline, and we’ll miss her terribly.

Nancy Pelosi: (02:04)
In terms of the Insulin Bill, we’re really very, very excited about that. Americans pay over 10 times for insulin than people in other countries. And this is an essential to people with diabetes. And it is it’s going to cap the cost of insulin at $35 per month, making a very big difference to America’s families. This is a kitchen table issue, [inaudible 00:02:30] people going to be able to pay their bills? And it is, for us, a step in the direction of the Secretary being able to negotiate for lower drug prices beyond insulin. But the insulin is… One in four Americans is forced to skip or ration doses of insulin. And that’s life-threatening.

Nancy Pelosi: (02:56)
Our bill requires Medicare and insurers to cover insulin on their plans and cap the cost to families, on the private side, to $35 per month. Again, it paves the way to further action on prescription drugs. The [crosstalk 00:03:12] MORE act that is on the floor today, it’s a major criminal reform bill that helps in the racial and economic injustice of marijuana criminalization. We’re very proud of the work that has gone into it, and we would hope that it has support in the Senate. It’s something that Senator Booker has been working on, their version, for a while. Some of what is in this bill stood in the way of our getting the George Floyd, because there were some in the Senate who wanted the aspects of this bill to be in the George Floyd Bill.

Nancy Pelosi: (03:59)
In any event, it’s about justice. And that’s what our President is. He’s about justice. He’s about equity. Whether we’re talking about healthcare, whether we’re talking about justice in the criminal justice system, whether we’re talking about environmental justice; any subject that you can name, this President has been very, very committed to justice in the system.

Nancy Pelosi: (04:25)
And again, part of that justice is lowering cost. Right now, of course, we have the Putin price hike at the pump, and it is something that has to be addressed. The price of oil and gas at the pump started going up when he started circling Ukraine and Kiev. And it is… well, even before he went in, but as he showed his intentions. But it’s beyond that too. There is real interest in our caucus in stopping price-gouging on the part of the industry. It’s about passing on whatever we might pass, to alleviate the price at the pump to the consumer. It’s about “use-it-or-lose-it” in terms of the about 9,000 well permits that are there for the private sector, to produce more oil domestically. So, there are an array of issues. The President will be making his statement later, consistent with many of the things that I’ve been hearing from our members. You know that the [inaudible 00:05:46] is already in the public domain, and he’ll be making others.

Nancy Pelosi: (05:49)
But again, it comes back to the subject of lowering cost. Lowering cost at a time of inflation is a reality that must be faced and must be addressed and must be lowered. One place is at the pump. Another place is just the fact that the President, with the increase of a million jobs, I don’t think any President would say that he himself made that happen. Of course, the public policy that we’re engaged in made it happen, but the private sector made it happen too. A million jobs, which means that unemployment went down; practically cut in half. And when that happens, inflation increases. I’ve told you before, when I was a new member of Congress and the Chairman of the Fed said, “Unemployment is dangerously low is going to increase inflation.” It’s the way it is.

Nancy Pelosi: (06:50)
But nonetheless, we have to recognize that another cause, of course, is COVID. And COVID, COVID, COVID; we had many reasons to address COVID. But one of them is to recognize the shortage of supply, the supply challenge that we have in so many respects. And one of the things we’re doing in that regard is passing the Competes Act. Increase supply to lower cost. It’s pretty exciting. You’ve heard me talk about it before. We’ll have over $50 billion committed to manufacturing chips. Thousand chips in a car, 2000 chips in an electric car. It’s pretty exciting. Chips in semiconductors. Another over 40 billion dollars to address the supply chain challenges that we have, bringing supply back to our shore, or nearshoring them, and the research and education pieces of it. Again, justice to have many more people participate in the new aspects of our independence, of this President declaring our independence, our self-sufficiency because we are making more in the USA. And so, that’s pretty exciting.

Nancy Pelosi: (08:17)
But it’s a very extensive bill. We have much in common with the Senate; some not. And we are preparing to go to conference with that. And again, as I mentioned, the motion to instruct will be on the floor, later today, on the Republican side. And then next week, we’ll start appointing conferees to that.

Nancy Pelosi: (08:43)
For these and other reasons, it’s an exciting time. Just close by saying, yesterday, I had the honor of a visit from, to the Speaker’s Office, but five members of Parliament, women members of Parliament from the Ukraine, accompanied by ambassador Markarova, who you all know her. Many of you have seen her here, but she brought five members of the Parliament who are women. These women are young. They have children. One child was two; another eight years old. Small children, their husbands, in a large measure, on the battlefield, fighting there. But they thought it was important to come to the United States to tell the American people how they see it from there. They were going on to Canada after that.

Nancy Pelosi: (09:36)
I had them in with the member of our women members, but also the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. It was factual, inspiring, emotional. A sense of urgency that you all are aware of. The President of Ukraine has made it clear. But to the stories of the children… children are my reason to be here. When some of these parents are killed by the Russians, the children are sent to Russia. How about that? And I think we should get more evidence and documentation about that crime against humanity, that the Russians are committing to the children; in some cases with a parent, in some cases not.

Nancy Pelosi: (10:29)
Again, we pray for the people of Ukraine. We’re inspired by their courage, instructed by their president. And I say, in closing… Did I say “in closing” once? I’m so proud of our President; the leadership he has provided, not in calling the shots, but working together with their allies and NATO, and others outside of NATO, for unity against the Russian unlawful assault on a sovereign country, not respecting its borders and harming its people. Any questions?

Speaker 2: (11:11)
[crosstalk 00:11:11] Madam Speaker, thank you so much. On COVID relief, some Senate Republicans have suggested that the package could drop down to $10 billion, putting billions of dollars for global COVID vaccines on the chopping block. Would that compromise be acceptable to you, and are you confident that this could get done by Easter recess?

Nancy Pelosi: (11:29)
I think what the Republicans are doing is either they don’t care, or they don’t know. But it is wrong. We must honor our [inaudible 00:11:41]. We had a bigger package, and it’s cut back to 15, that five that they said. So, what? “Stop the world. I want to get off.” That’s who they are. You don’t know that, but that used to be a play. [crosstalk 00:11:58] And how can we say? We have said, we have pronounced, everyone knows. None of us safe, unless all of us are safe. By the way, this is not enough money. We’re going to even need more money. But because of the… and I’m an appropriator, as you know, so I that’s my orientation: appropriations and intelligence. And their appropriators, left to their own devices, can get this done. And they have ways of doing it, that is paid for. We agree on what should be paid for.

Nancy Pelosi: (12:31)
But they will not accept the of pay-fors that had been traditional. Traditional in using budget outlays and the rest. This is shameful. And we have to get the money. It’s not going to last us past, probably June 1st. So, for them to just… They’re making statements saying, “We don’t see this as problem.” It’s a problem. It’s a shame.

Speaker 3: (12:57)
Madam? [crosstalk 00:12:58].

Nancy Pelosi: (12:57)
Yes, [inaudible 00:12:58]?

Speaker 3: (12:58)
Good morning. Thank you. We’re going to have this bill on the floor soon about cannabis. Legalization of cannabis-

Nancy Pelosi: (13:04)

Speaker 3: (13:05)
As a mother and a grandmother, [crosstalk 00:13:07] feel about that? What are the concerns that other parents might have about this bill? I understand the merits of. But what are the potential problems when some medical experts talk about the issues and social issues that could [crosstalk 00:13:17]

Nancy Pelosi: (13:17)
Well, this is the decriminalization of it. It’s the decriminalization of it. And the fact is, many states have already done that. And so, this is consistent with what’s happening in many states across the country. And it also addresses the injustices of it because of what penalties had been before some of this decriminalization took place. So, I’m all for it. Look, there are so many discussions that have gone on, over the years, about the use of marijuana or cannabis or whatever. The fact is, it exists, it’s being used. We’ve got to address how it is treated legally, and not in a way that mistreats people on the lower income scale; not says, “If you’re wealthy, you can be engaged in all of this, but if you’re not, there are barriers to you even getting banking services in order to do it. So, it’s a fact of life that needed appropriate public policy to address it. [crosstalk 00:14:42] Let me just see one of our regulars. Any regulars here? No? [crosstalk 00:14:44]

Speaker 4: (14:44)
Gas prices. [crosstalk 00:14:48]

Nancy Pelosi: (14:48)
Yeah, okay.

Speaker 5: (14:49)
You laid out some solutions that would have a long-term impact to bring gas prices down. But in terms of immediate relief, for Americans, in the short-term, would you support the idea of something like gas checks, rebates, vouchers to Americans? And in that same vein, do you have concerns that if that were to happen that would cause inflation to go even higher?

Nancy Pelosi: (15:14)
Well, let’s just say, first of all, the main question had been, “Do you support a gas tax holiday?” And that is immediate. And it has appeal. People understand it. There’s going to be a reduction in the gas tax. That’s the pro. The con is that the oil companies do not necessarily pass that on to the consumer. They haven’t in the past. And so, we’re losing the money in the Highway Trust Fund because we’ve just taken that out. It goes to the oil companies. You cannot write a law that requires them to pass it on. That’s just the way it is. We’ve tried every which way. You can have moral suasion, you could encourage, you can incentivize. You cannot require it.

Nancy Pelosi: (16:19)
Okay, so we have a situation where there’s money coming out of the Highway Trust Fund; it’s going to the oil companies. They may not give it to the consumer. And it has to be paid for. So, we’re paying for something to give a break to the oil companies that isn’t even going to the consumer. That’s the con. The pro is very showbiz. “Okay, let’s just do something. There it is.” But it is not necessarily landing in the pocket of the consumer. It’s taken out of the trust fund. We have to pay for that to return it.

Nancy Pelosi: (17:00)
That takes us to something else. How do you do that? Do you do it with a tax on production. Do you have the consumers pay for that? So, people are saying, “Well, how do we put the tax at the doorstep of the [inaudible 00:17:25]?” You took it to the right place. How do we help people directly? If you’re going to have to pay for it, and you don’t want it to come out of the trust fund, one something could be a rebate card or a direct payment. And those are the things that are being considered. But some of the things that looked appealing in the beginning, to some… if this were my caucus, one half the room would say, “Let’s go with that,” and the other half would say, “Well, wait a minute. Did you know it’s not going to the consumer?”

Nancy Pelosi: (18:01)
So, there are a number of a number of approaches that are on the table. Let’s hear what the President has to say today. That will be very important to us, [crosstalk 00:18:16] what he has to say. He’s going to talk about the [SPR 00:18:19] to reduce it. He’s going to talk about… Well, we’ll just hear what he has to say. [crosstalk 00:18:23] Yes, [crosstalk 00:18:25]

Speaker 6: (18:32)
On gas prices and what the President is going to say today, one of the things he’s supposed to recommend is that Congress [crosstalk 00:18:33] put fees on oil companies that don’t utilize permits they already own. Is that something that you would support and implement here? And also, you’re calling it “the Putin gas hike,” but gas prices started rising a year ago. So, is all of this to blame on Putin, or are there other issues?

Nancy Pelosi: (18:50)
No, partially. I don’t say it’s all Putin, but it’s partially. [inaudible 00:18:58] That’s not what I’m talking about. But anyway, here’s the thing: When the President makes his statement, I will comment on his statement. Okay? So, thank you very much for your advance knowledge of it, but I don’t have that. And so, I won’t comment on it. But Putin definitely contributed to this gas hike. I’m not put saying it’s all his, no. But it’s largely his. So, when we talk about this, price of oil went down from what? 140 to 105. Have you seen it go down at the pump? Seems like it goes up when the price of oil goes up. It doesn’t necessarily come down when it goes down. So, to your first part of your question, we have always said, “Use it or lose it.” 9,000 permits exist for them to drill on shore.

Nancy Pelosi: (20:04)
And one of the things that I would say is that we want to fight inflation. The price of gas at the pump is an indicator. Putin has exacerbated it. But we cannot allow the fossil fuel industry to use this as an excuse to reverse everything we are doing to save the planet. One of the things I think that the President may say, I don’t have this as a fact, is that we will use the Defense Production Act to speed up diversification, so that we’re not so dependent on oil. Many of the meetings that we had a Munich, with leaders in Europe, either heads of state or the EU or countries coming together, was about diversification.

Nancy Pelosi: (20:59)
Everybody knows security and energy are linked. If you’re dependent on a country like Russia, your security depends on your having that energy. But it also is a risk to your security to have somebody like a Putin call your shot, A. Secondly, in that regard, we are trying to supply as much as we can to backfill what people would not get from Russia, should the countries decide they’re not going to buy the oil from Russia. But what we heard, that was so encouraging, at all the meetings in Munich, was “Diversification, diversification, diversification. We must stop being dependent on energy; not just oil, but other energy product from Russia.” Same thing here: diversification. So again, we have a short-term problem. We have a long-term opportunity.

Nancy Pelosi: (21:58)
We want to reduce the cost of the price at the pump. We would hope that there would be some relationship between the price of oil coming down. The President releasing the million dollars a day, of the SPR, for the next six months, increases supply. Supply usually reduces cost. And now, we’ll just see how that is reflected. It costs a lot of money in California. If you drive around in California and see the cost, and you think, how could this be when the price of oil has been coming down? Well, let’s see what the President has to say. They had been so careful about what really results in lowering the price for that kitchen table that he’s so famous for being concerned about.

Speaker 7: (22:53)
Madam Speaker [crosstalk 00:22:56] do you agree with members of your caucus who are saying that Clarence Thomas should resign?

Nancy Pelosi: (23:00)
I don’t think he should have ever been appointed, so let me take it back to there. Thank you for your question. I’m not going to go to that. But I will say that, in our H.R. 1, our bill to have cleaner government, we have a call for the Supreme Court to have a code of ethics. They have no code of ethics. And really? It’s the Supreme Court of the United States. They’re making judgments about the air we breathe and everything else, and we don’t even know what their ethical standard is? So, I would like to see that bill have a hearing. Not the whole bill, but taking out that piece. We’ve already passed the whole bill. But to focus on the Supreme Court ethics standard legislation, I’ve talked to the committee about perhaps having a hearing on that pretty soon, so that the justice or the Supreme Court has to, at least, have a code of ethics, A. And B, why should they have lower standards than numbers of Congress, in terms of reporting and the rest?

Nancy Pelosi: (24:15)
So, I hear people say from time to time, “Well, it’s a personal decision of a judge, as to whether he should recuse himself.” Well, if your wife is an admitted and proud contributor to a coup of our country, maybe you should weigh that in your ethical standards. [crosstalk 00:24:40] Just one more. Jake?

Speaker 8: (24:42)
Just on the two issues you talked about, gas prices and the chips, the Innovation Bill, what is your timeline? What do you-

Nancy Pelosi: (24:49)

Speaker 8: (24:50)
[crosstalk 00:24:50] do you see those two coming together?

Nancy Pelosi: (24:52)
Well, as you know, I’m very committee-oriented, and there are some proposals that would have to go through the Energy and Commerce Committee. The chairman would rather do the bills after they have the hearings. So-

Speaker 8: (25:11)
After they have the oil CEOs in, you mean, or after they have the hearing on the bill, or-

Nancy Pelosi: (25:14)

Speaker 8: (25:14)
Yeah? [crosstalk 00:25:17].

Nancy Pelosi: (25:16)
That would be one. I’m not telling you his plan, but I’m just saying, I would infer from his statement that that would be one important date. And then, chip are this. As I said today, the Senate did what they had to do. Then they send us the paper. We get it. We do it what we do. We send it back to them today. They, at the beginning of next week, have their vote on how we go to conference. And then, we start appointing conferees. So, we could have a first… Well, depending. I can’t answer for the Senate because next week they also, is my understanding, but I don’t know this; just what I see in the local metropolitan journal, they may be doing the Supreme Court next week. Justice confirmation. So if that’s the case, then I don’t know when this will come up there. But when they act, then we’ll act, and we’ll go to conference.

Nancy Pelosi: (26:19)
But we had always been working to… where do we have complete agreement? Where do we need some little reconciliation? Where do we have a big difference? And we’ve been working on that for months. So, we’re ready. We’re ready. Everybody wants to be on the conference, so we’ll just have to see, excuse me, what the size of that is. It’s pretty exciting. Because again, it’s the American Competes Act of 2022. Whether that remains the name at the end of the day, who knows? But what is true is that the Competes Act about America being independent and self-sufficient. And this is really a high priority for our President. And that’s why, when he talks about the Defense Production Act being implemented to make us less dependent on… Well, preparing us to save the planet, really, it happens to coincide with reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

Nancy Pelosi: (27:31)
But again, the immediate is to bring down that price. We want there to be no price-gouging. We have other proposals that members have, that relate to having the industry pay for whatever we have to put out there, to alleviate the financial pain to America’s working families. But [crosstalk 00:27:58] there are plenty of good ideas. And I’ll have to go back to my day job. It was lovely to be with you. [crosstalk 00:28:02]

Speaker 3: (28:02)
Will you go to Poland-

Speaker 9: (28:02)
Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 3: (28:02)
… or the Ukrainian border? Will you go to Poland-

Speaker 9: (28:02)
Thank you.

Speaker 3: (28:02)
… or the Ukrainian border?

Speaker 9: (28:08)
Thank you.

Nancy Pelosi: (28:09)
At some time.

Speaker 3: (28:09)
At some time?

Speaker 9: (28:09)
Thank you.

Speaker 3: (28:24)
Thank you. [crosstalk 00:28:24]

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