Feb 11, 2020
Transcript: Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer Hold News Conference on Trump’s Budget Proposal
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and minority leader Chuck Schumer held a news conference on Donald Trump’s budget proposal. Read the full transcript of their press conference right here on Rev.com.
Senator Schumer: (00:06)
Okay. Good afternoon. I’m proud to be joined by my dear friend and great colleague, the wonderful, excellent and superb Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and thank you all for coming. Now, if President Trump’s State of the Union was a manifesto of mistruths, as Speaker Pelosi so aptly put it, President Trump’s latest budget proposal is a blueprint for destroying America. One word, nine letters, sums up the president’s budget, H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y, hypocrisy. In his State of the Union Address, President Trump talked at length about healthcare, claiming amazingly at one point he will fight to protect patients with preexisting conditions.
Senator Schumer: (01:02)
We know the president just lies, lies about protecting healthcare and his budget is proof. If the state of the union is what he says, the budget is what he does and the two are from different planets. I like to say the budget is the truth serum and now the American people can clearly see that he is a fraud who is not fighting for them. Under Donald Trump, the average American is struggling to keep up and his budget would make life harder for them. President Trump likes to talk about the forgotten man and woman.
Senator Schumer: (01:46)
Well in this budget, he’s forgotten about the very people he promised to help in the state of the union last week. So let me go over a few of the areas. On healthcare, the president said he’d never cut Medicare and Medicaid. He slashes both. One trillion in cuts to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Hundreds of billions of cuts in Medicare and the president even proposes a $35 million cut to CDC’s Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund. This is the fund currently being used to respond to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Senator Schumer: (02:25)
On education, the president’s budget would devastate our nation’s students both K through 12 and college. His budget cuts the strengthening institutions program that assists historically black colleges and universities and other minority serving institutions. Typical hypocrisy. At the state of the union, he was bragging how he helps HBCUs. His budget cuts them. Cuts them. It cuts afterschool and summer learning programs for two million young people. Rural education grants will hurt 18,000 school districts across the country.
Senator Schumer: (03:05)
In the president’s budget, hundreds of billions of dollars would be slashed from student loan forgiveness. He actually makes it harder for kids to pay back their debt. Instead of a limit of 10% of income per year, it goes up to 12 and a half under his budget. That’s how he cares about students and the overwhelming burden of debt they have. He slashes federal housing assistance. He slashes federal disability insurance. So if you’re an American struggling with student loan debt or health problems or housing costs or hunger, the president’s budget says you’re out of luck.
Senator Schumer: (03:41)
Meanwhile, if you’re a millionaire, billionaire, a corporation, a big oil wildcatter, the president’s budget says you’re in luck, you’re in clover.
Senator Schumer: (03:52)
And lastly, the president’s budget doesn’t make it harder to fight climate change alone. It would exacerbate, make worse, the climate crisis. Not just not fight it, but make it worse. He cuts EPA funding by more than 25%. He cuts renewable energy funding, clean energy, like wind and solar 75% and cuts funding for climate research, gas house, green monitoring and emissions reduction activities in this anti-science administration that he leads. President Trump’s budget even cuts disaster relief for FEMA by $12.2 billion.
Senator Schumer: (04:35)
And so much of a disaster is caused by climate. The Earth’s on fire. Antarctica had a 64 degree record temperature this week and what is the president’s response? He douses the fire with lighter fluid of weakened pollution regulations and then proposes cutting the fire department. We know how much he cares about the oil companies, but his budget makes clear he doesn’t give a hoot about the future of this globe and is fine leaving to our children and grandchildren a globe in much worse shape even than it is today.
Senator Schumer: (05:13)
Speaker Pelosi: (05:16)
Thank you very much, Leader Schumer, for your leadership and fighting this budget. The budget, our federal budget should be a statement of our national values. What is important to us as a nation should be reflected in how we allocate our resources. The budget in terms of our legislative work is the heart of the matter. It’s where it all begins, and this is a heartless budget. It’s a heartless budget in some of the ways that the distinguished leader spelled out, and I think it does bear petition to say what he is doing.
Speaker Pelosi: (05:49)
Slashing half a trillion dollars from Medicare after you stood in front of the house and said, I’m protecting Medicare. Half a trillion dollars out of Medicare. And from Medicaid, $900 billion. So if you’re sitting at home at your kitchen table and you’re a senior or if there’s a senior in your family on Medicare, you’re getting cut. And if there is longterm care in your family’s budget, you are getting cut. 2/3 of longterm care, 2/3 of longterm care is paid for by Medicaid. This is a middle class benefit.
Speaker Pelosi: (06:29)
Those cuts endanger the health of seniors in longterm care needs for them and their families. And these Medicaid cuts also hurt rural hospitals, people seeking opioid addiction treatment, veterans and their families. More than a million veterans are on Medicaid. $900 billion cut from Medicaid. At the same time, the president in court fighting to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which has, as you mentioned, the preexisting condition benefits so important to all of those families.
Speaker Pelosi: (07:03)
But in this budget, what could possibly be his motivation to cut all that money from the CDC that you mentioned at the time of the Coronavirus and the threat that that is cutting money from the Center for Disease Control using the full title, the prevention element of the good health of the American people. What could he be thinking? Maybe I’m using that term loosely. The president said he would fight for farmers. We all want to fight for farmers. But at a time when farmers are declaring bankruptcy at record rates, the president in this budget wants to slash the safety net by nearly $60 billion and ransack the US Department of Agriculture.
Speaker Pelosi: (07:51)
His budget also takes food off the table of hungry families of both rural and urban communities by cutting more than $180 billion from the SNAP Program. Some farmers, when I visit farmers in the Midwest, they say we are farmers and we are on food stamps. It’s such a sad thing. Their economies depend. That’s why Senator Dole and Senator McGovern even began all of this was to help people have food security, but also to help farmers have their economic security as well. Countless groups representing seniors, working families and more have denounced the budget from the Alliance for Retired Americans to the Young Invincibles.
Speaker Pelosi: (08:36)
The young lobbyists. You’ve probably seen them. We’ve had 10,000 events to fight the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. They weren’t at all of them, but they were significant at those meetings. The young little lobbyists, some of them born with a preexisting condition, many of them on Medicaid. They write, we are disappointed though, sadly not surprised that the president has once again broken his campaign promise. We absolutely reject this vision for our country and we call upon our legislators to reject this budget and the dangerous values it espouses.
Speaker Pelosi: (09:12)
Our children’s lives depend on it. And the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare writes, this budget will leave seniors and other vulnerable senior citizens hungrier, sicker and poorer. It reveals the president’s cruel priorities heading into the 2020 election. Chairman mentioned earlier that there are benefits to the high end in our economic life in our country. The president in what he has been doing, what he talked about in the state of the union and what this budget is about, increases the national debt, passes that expense on to our children so that he can give tax cuts to the top 1% in our country.
Speaker Pelosi: (10:02)
It’s absolutely shameful. Again, budget is supposed to be a statement of our values. Once again, this president is demonstrating how little he values the good health, financial security and wellbeing of hardworking American families. This budget is an insult to the hopes and dreams and aspirations of America’s working families. It increases the national debt. It must be rejected. And by the way, it is a complete abandonment of the budget agreement that we had with a domestic and defense priorities.
Speaker Pelosi: (10:41)
Clearly this administration cannot be trusted. I yield back.
Senator Schumer: (10:47)
We’re ready for your questions on this subject first. Yes?
Speaker 3: (10:52)
What did you make of the president’s request for over $2 billion of wall construction funding?
Senator Schumer: (10:57)
Well, look, we have fought him on the wall successfully in the budget. Then he tries to go around and declare an emergency. Everyone knows that that is not what the emergency legislation was called for. We’re going to fight every penny for wall constructions. We don’t want to take it away from military families. What’s interesting in this budget, all the military families and all the military support that they took out last year, they didn’t try to backfill this year. We didn’t let them in last year’s budget.
Senator Schumer: (11:28)
So who is this going to hurt? Our nation’s military, our nation’s military families for a wall that is a vanity project that he said Mexico would pay for.
Speaker Pelosi: (11:38)
Yes. And just further to that point, the seamless leader has been very clear, but this is about childcare centers at military bases, facilities for the quality of life for the families and for the security of our country. As he said, Mexico’s going to pay for it. No. But in addition to the harm that he’s doing to military families, just getting back to Medicaid, almost a trillion dollars in cuts in Medicaid. Over a million veterans are on Medicaid. Hundreds of millions of veterans are on food stamps.
Speaker Pelosi: (12:17)
So this really shows just a cavalier attitude to the needs of America’s service men and women and their families when they’re in the military and when they retire.
Speaker 4: (12:31)
On the issue of Medicare, both of you have been around a long time and you voted for cuts to Medicare in the past either to reduce the deficit …
Senator Schumer: (12:40)
No. We opposed whatever it was. The Gang of Six.
Speaker 4: (12:44)
You used Medicare for instance to pay for the Affordable Care Act.
Speaker Pelosi: (12:48)
Let me correct you right there because you should not go any further down that plat in friendship. The fact is in the Affordable Care Act, we got rid of some waste and abuse in Medicare and used that money to prolong the life of Medicare. Medicare was not how we funded the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act is how we strengthened Medicare. So don’t buy into that false premise …
Senator Schumer: (13:13)
There was no net reduction to Medicare.
Speaker Pelosi: (13:15)
In Medicare. In fact, we increased the longevity of it and that has been one of the things they say, you used Medicare, but we did not. We did not.
Speaker 4: (13:24)
Trump is making the same arguments about his approach to cutting Medicare as well, that that money goes.
Senator Schumer: (13:29)
Wait. Wait. Wait. He didn’t put a nickel of that back into health care. Not a nickel. That’s the difference. Or to Medicare.
Speaker Pelosi: (13:39)
Senator Schumer: (13:39)
So he’s not, he may use that argument but he will use it falsely.
Speaker Pelosi: (13:44)
This is very important that we have clarity on this subject because we’re talking about America’s working families. We’re talking about Medicare, which is essential to not only the health but the financial security. We are also talking about Medicaid, which is a middle income benefit, although people think of it being for poor people, poor children, yes. But as I mentioned, about 2/3 of it being of longterm care being covered by Medicaid, which is now being cut by almost $900 billion.
Speaker Pelosi: (14:16)
But also to put this in a perspective about what that means to America’s working families, why are they doing this? They’re doing this so that they can give advantages to the high end. We want to see balance in all of this. We want to see where we can find savings. Let’s subject everything we spend to harsh scrutiny so that the results for the American people are the best that they can be. But don’t get in front of an audience and say, I’m here to protect Medicare, Social Security and people and we say Medicaid too.
Speaker Pelosi: (14:51)
And then put a budget like this forward and then try to say, we did something on the healthcare bill, which we did not.
Senator Schumer: (14:57)
[inaudible 00:14:59]. this subject.
Speaker 5: (15:01)
[inaudible 00:15:01] a budget resolution [inaudible 00:15:06].
Speaker Pelosi: (15:06)
Two year budget.
Speaker 5: (15:08)
[inaudible 00:15:08] not going to have a hearing on this. That said, and I understand …
Senator Schumer: (15:12)
I don’t blame him.
Speaker Pelosi: (15:14)
Would you want that subjected to exposure?
Speaker 5: (15:17)
But with that said, when I talk with the senior appropriators on both sides, they say they don’t intend to come off of the [inaudible 00:15:24]. So obviously none of this that we’re discussing is going to become law.
Senator Schumer: (15:30)
Speaker Pelosi says it well. You want to know the values of a president. Don’t listen with this president in particular to the state of the union address. Look at his budget and it shows his values are so off base. Left to his own devices, he would do this. We stop him. We fight him. But make no mistake about it, this is just what he wants to do and the American people should know about it loud and clear.
Speaker Pelosi: (15:56)
And we have a saying in the House, show me your budget, show me your values. That’s where it is and this is really a statement so undermining of the values of America is as a community, what we are about respecting what the needs are of America’s working families. This is really important because it is also part of the anti governance attitude of the Republicans. So they can diminish Medicaid, diminish Social Security, take away the disability benefits, reduce the disability benefits and Social Security.
Speaker Pelosi: (16:35)
What is the advantage of that? And I might add because the distinguished leader talked about education. There is nothing that brings more money to the treasury than investment in education, early childhood, K through 12, higher education, post-grad and lifetime learning for a worker. So when they say they’re making a cut in education, they’re increasing the national debt and undermining the aspirations of the American people and the competitiveness of our country.
Senator Schumer: (17:08)
This subject. Are you two this subject? No. Subject first. I know your act. Come on.
Speaker 6: (17:17)
All right. [inaudible 00:17:20], you said that the fund levels for the defense and non-defense side of the budget violate the framework of the budget agreement.
Speaker Pelosi: (17:29)
The non-defense side. Not the defense side.
Speaker 6: (17:32)
How would you address that?
Speaker Pelosi: (17:34)
Well, we’re going to write our bills according to the agreement that we have with the administration and as we did this year. We were able to avoid a shutdown even though the president was threatening one because we honored the budget agreement in a way House and Senate and that’s what we will do again.
Senator Schumer: (17:53)
One more on this subject and then we’ll stray a bit. Yes?
Speaker 7: (17:57)
Are you actually saying that Medicare benefits are cut? Because the administration says these are cost control items. Are you really arguing here that Medicare …
Senator Schumer: (18:04)
We’ll get you the details. There are cuts in programs that benefit Medicare that go to Medicare. Absolutely. Yes?
Speaker 8: (18:12)
So both of you said that campaign finance is a priority of yours. What do you make of the fact that Michael Bloomberg is spending $1 billion or more could end the democratic primary system? Is that good and okay for business?
Senator Schumer: (18:27)
Both of us stand strongly and our whole caucuses do from one end to the other that we want to do everything we can to get rid of Citizens United, that we want to go back to the days of real campaign finance reform and we stand for that, plain and simple. And we will, if we get the majority, if God willing the Speaker keeps the majority, I think both that have a good chance of happening. That’s going to be a top priority.
Speaker Pelosi: (18:50)
It’s a top priority for us now. We passed HR1. And HR1, we did three things when we ran in 2018. For the people, we said we were going to lower the cost of healthcare for America’s families by lowering the cost of prescription drugs as we protected the preexisting condition benefit. Lower healthcare, bigger paychecks by building the infrastructure of America in a green way, a resilient way for the future. We thought in those two areas we could find some common ground with the administration because the president said he was going to negotiate like crazy on reducing costs of a prescription drug.
Speaker Pelosi: (19:29)
I guess like crazy means not at all and hopefully we can still find a path on both of those, lowering costs of prescription drugs and building the infrastructure. And three, cleaner government. I don’t know that we have much hope with him in that regard. However, it was about lowering the influence of dark, special interest money in elections as well as giving opportunity for small donors to weigh in. But everybody thought that his or her voice counted as much as anyone else’s, with John Lewis’ provisions in there to end voter suppression and the rest of that.
Speaker Pelosi: (20:05)
We have three bills. We have three bills on the floor right now in terms of election security and that is the Shield Act, the Safe Act. Elements of HR1. Why are the Republicans so afraid of stopping foreign interference in our elections? Why are the Republicans so afraid of protecting the integrity of our elections and protecting the … We did get money, over $400 million in the, it’s not an [inaudible 00:20:35], whatever, that we passed at the end of last year …
Senator Schumer: (20:40)
Over McConnell’s strenuous objection.
Speaker Pelosi: (20:40)
Over his objection because he is standing in the way of the election integrity that need. As far as Michael Bloomberg is concerned, I think that his involvement in this campaign will be a positive one.
Senator Schumer: (21:00)
And by the way, just one other point on that. HR1, we have asked countless times from McConnell to let us bring it to the floor, to bring it to the floor. He won’t do it. He’s against any campaign finance reform. He’s for all this dark money flowing in dark. Yes?
Speaker Pelosi: (21:14)
May on that score.
Senator Schumer: (21:15)
Please. Please. Please.
Speaker Pelosi: (21:16)
We also took out of HR1, one important elements, which was a Voting Rights Act, and we’ve sent it over separately. The Voting Rights Act to correct, to answer what the challenge that the Supreme Court gave when it undermines seriously in my view, the Voting Rights Act, but said Congress can correct this, and we did. And he won’t bring that up too and across the country, but those who are interested in the Voting Rights Act are paying keen attention to the fact that he will not even bring up the Voting Rights Act, which we passed. When we pass it originally in ’06, ’07, I mean was ’06, but came into effect in ’07, President Bush signed it.
Speaker Pelosi: (21:58)
It was overwhelming. I think unanimous in the Senate. In the House, 400 votes, something like that, and now we can’t even get it brought up on the Senate floor.
Senator Schumer: (22:08)
Both bills are part of McConnell’s legislative graveyard. Last question.
Speaker 9: (22:11)
Bernie Sanders is polling at the top of your field right now. Would you be comfortable with a so called democratic socialist, as he calls himself, at the top of the ticket?
Senator Schumer: (22:19)
Primaries are primaries and they’re always lots of scarmen drain. You will see in a few months, Democrats will be strongly united together and we will be focused like a laser on beating Donald Trump. The enthusiasm that you last saw in 2008 to elect Barack Obama, you will see among Democrats this summer and fall to get Donald Trump out of office.
Speaker Pelosi: (22:45)
And we in the House feel that we set a model for how to win elections by winning in the most gerrymandered voter suppressed political arena you could ever put together net gain of 40 seats. So we think we are an engine that can help us win that election whoever our nominee is. Thank you.
Senator Schumer: (23:03)