Apr 21, 2020
Transcript: Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer Speech After $500 Billion COVID-19 Bill Passes
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer held a press conference after the Senate passed a $500 billion coronavirus relief plan.
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Chuck Schumer: (00:05)
Okay. Hi, everybody. Spread out. Okay. Well, first I’m so proud to be joined by my friend, great speaker, great partner. We’ve probably talked 20 times a day the last few days and we’re still not-
Nancy Pelosi: (00:23)
[inaudible 00:00:23] all day long.
Chuck Schumer: (00:24)
Yes, and we’re still not tired of each other. I hope. So, the bill we passed was greatly improved. Leader McConnell simply tried to steamroll us and we’ve tried to tell him it’s much better to talk with us than steamroll us. And because we had input into the bill, it’s a much better bill. Leader McConnell’s bill was simply a bill for PPP. We weren’t against increasing it, but there was so much more to do. First, there was so many people in my state and throughout this country who were small, didn’t know a big shot banker and they couldn’t get loans. And that was because of the PPP program, the way it was structured helped those who had a friendly banker and who were larger, more successful companies.
Chuck Schumer: (01:17)
We wanted to deal with the butcher and the baker and the candlestick maker, the average small business person and we needed to get them help. And so, under the leadership really of our banking committee folks, Maxine Waters and Nydia Velazquez, Sherrod Brown and Ben Cardin. We’ve greatly expanded the program and walled off $125 billion that will go to rural areas, minority areas, unbanked people. The smaller people will not have to compete with the potbellies to get money. Of course, they’ll be in their own large separate pool. It’ll be one of the greatest infusions to the inner city since the CRA, since the Community Reinvestment Act, and it will really help. And we’re very proud of that provision, and it’s one of the most progressive things done in the banking area in a very long time. But we also knew that testing from one end of America to the other, people were crying out, “We need testing.”
Chuck Schumer: (02:24)
Business people, mayors, and most of all scientists and doctors. We need testing. We will not get America moving again until we have a nationwide, well thought out, well executed testing program. And this administration doesn’t have one. So, we originally had proposed $30 billion but we got $25 billion. But most important, we’re forcing the administration to report to Congress on what is the national testing program involving manufacturing and supply chains, involving free testing and involving contact tracing. Because they are laggard and you cannot tell people go out on the streets unless they’ve [inaudible 00:03:13] testing or the fear is that corona will come back doubly as hard as it came the first time. So, we got that done and that’s very important. We got money for our hospitals that are hurting. Hospitals that are hurting are hospitals that are treating corona patients and many hospitals that may not be treating many corona patients, but they are forgoing elective surgery.
Chuck Schumer: (03:37)
So, in my state alone, hospital after hospital is furloughing and laying off people as I mentioned on the floor this week, St Peter’s in Albany is laying off 700. St Joseph’s in Syracuse is laying off 700 and these are not hot spots. And so, of the four major things we pushed for, we got three. Over Republican resistance because they knew they needed us. The one we didn’t get was state and local government, we’re deeply disappointed. It is not state and local government. It is policemen and firemen. It is bus drivers. It is people who work in hospitals, in many municipal hospitals and many others who are vital and they should not be laid off and that’s why we wanted to help state local governments. We did get one change, just one, but it’s important. We’ve got a commitment from the president and secretary Mnuchin that they will be able to use their state and local money that the feds are giving them whether it’s COVID three or COVID four to deal with revenue losses and that’s very important. That was the second most important thing they wanted other than more money.
Chuck Schumer: (04:51)
Now, one final thing, there will be a big, broad, bold COVID four. For anyone who thinks this is the last train out of the station, that is not even close to the case and the speaker and I will begin rolling up our sleeves and working on that big broad COVID four very soon and very quickly. And it’s going to have a lot of stuff, too long to list, but I want to mention a few of the priorities that I have and I know the speaker has. Election reform, money for housing, there’s three months of rent forbearance, but what do people do after that? The postal service, money for a hero’s fund, the people who are on the front lines, they should get extra money and at the top of the list is a big robust state and local plan. We’re going to fight for that and many more things in COVID four which I think will be soon upon us because the nation will demand it. Speaker Pelosi.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:48)
Thank you very much Mr leader and congratulations on the unanimous vote in the Senate today on a package that we recommended two weeks ago. Two weeks ago today, secretary Mnuchin called me and he said he wanted a quarter of $1 trillion, $250 billion and he wanted it in 48 hours. That was Tuesday, then on Thursday leader McConnell was bringing this bill to the floor and that he wanted our support for it. I told him that that wasn’t possible and we had to have our consultation with the house Democrats about what we would propose. The next day, the 8th of April, that was the seventh, on the eighth working together, congressional Democrats came together around the proposal described by the distinguished leader already on how we address the underbanked. How we address those in rural, Native American, veterans, women, people of color, small businesses that are considered the underbanked, how they could be included because it was a principle for us that we were not going to spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer’s dollars to pardon the disparity and access to capital that already exists in our economy. And this was a way to open that door.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:08)
And then of course, as the leader said, funding for hospitals and testing that he described and I associate my self with his characterization of all of that. So, here we are today, two weeks from that Tuesday of the request when the Republicans and the administration replied that there was no way they were going to join us, that they had that 250, that’s the way it was going to be, there was going to be nothing else. They took a defeat on the floor because the congressional Democrats stuck together. Ben Carden and Chris van Hollen objecting and then proposing our proposal, which is almost exactly what they passed today. So in terms of holding up the works, they were the ones who held up the works for a package that is more effective, fair and the rest as we go forward. And they like to say, “Oh, we held up.” No, we didn’t hold up. They held up and now we have prevailed.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:10)
This is a real victory for smaller businesses, is the leader has said, who really didn’t have the banking relationships, but they don’t need them under this legislation as it is passed. The one thing that we really have to insist upon in the next package is how we support our heroes. Under the framework of state and local, local government, we have healthcare workers, transit workers, police, fire, EMS, all kinds of public employees who risk their lives to save lives and now lose their jobs. And this is most unfortunate and they cannot stand. They have a huge loss of revenue because of what’s happening to the economy. They have loss of revenue because of what is happening in their public hospitals and the rest in terms of other procedures and they have enormous coronavirus cost. And we want the legislation that we pass in the next bill to reflect the need for them to have that recognized both with COVID three, CARES One bill and corona four. We have to get our names now. Are we going to call them COVID four? Is that going to be the standard?
Chuck Schumer: (09:30)
I like that better.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:34)
Okay, COVID four [inaudible 00:09:34] that is and that’s what we’ve been working with already, some of which we haven’t been able to get in other bills. So, under the framework of our heroes, our healthcare workers, our police and fire, et cetera, our teachers teach our children. The list goes on of our public employees who are so essential to the success of our society. Under that, we want to be sure that there is safety in the workplace, that people are not laid off, that they have their jobs, they’re employed, that their pensions are protected, that they are healthy, that we have the PPE to protect them as they do their jobs and that we do so in a way that is values based as we go forward.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:20)
We’re very excited about that. We have legislation, for example, of the OSHA legislation which they had rejected before. The snap to feed the American people, which they have rejected before, that we would hope to incorporate this. This is about the lives and the livelihood of the American people. So, just from the chronology of it all, two weeks ago they asked for a quarter of $1 trillion with nothing that has been put forth to improve the situation. On Thursday of that week, they were rejected. They said they were going to bring it up the following Monday, then the following Thursday and in the days since this past Thursday, they have seen the light. We have a great victory for the American people, but we certainly need to do more. I’ll just close with this, our first bill, three bills we’ve passed in March all bipartisan. This bill is bipartisan. The next bill will be bipartisan. That’s important for us to work together, but we have to insist on the truth.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:30)
On March 4th, we passed a bill that we had worked on in February. March 4th, we passed it in the House. Testing, testing, testing. The recognition that that was the key to everything. And so, as we close off with this bill, as the leader said, testing. $25 billion dollars in there for testing and for hotspots and for others, for initiatives that will enable us to test, to recognize that we must find out the contacts that those who are tested positive have engaged with, and we have to have isolation, quarantine. Testing, context and isolation. That is why we’re going to open up our great economy. Everybody’s restless. Cabin fever has set in many ways, but I’m so proud of the American people. They’re so beautiful in their care about their own health, the health of their loved ones and their families and the health of our country. Overwhelmingly, they have said they don’t think we should open up before we are ready from the standpoint of the health and wellbeing of the American people. Again, we want to facilitate that with testing, contact tracing, isolation, treatment, prevention first and foremost. But that I’m sure the leader would be happy to take any of your questions. Thank you.
Chuck Schumer: (13:03)
[inaudible 00:13:03] the three T’s. Thank you, go ahead, ma’am.
Speaker 3: (13:10)
Thank you. Leader Schumer, leader McConnell said just before you came to the podium that he will require the full Senate or he wants the full Senate to come back before considering next relief legislation, and he actually said he assumes the House will want to do the same thing. So, any reaction to that?
Chuck Schumer: (13:23)
Yeah, I think, look, we have to put the American people first, that’s for sure, but we also have to listen to the medical experts because we set an example. So, if we were to come back prematurely and that were to set a bad example for people, that’s a bad thing. I would like to be governed by the medical experts. I’d much rather be here in person voting than doing it by UC or by doing it in an isolated way. But we have to, there’s a balancing test and we got to be careful here. We’ve got to listen to the experts. Yes?
Speaker 4: (13:55)
Thank you. Senator Schumer, I just asked leader McConnell if he thought enough had been done to make sure that small businesses rather than large businesses get the small business loans. He said that that was a good question for the administration. Obviously, there’s been some sort-
Chuck Schumer: (14:10)
It’s a good question for Senator McConnell. He resisted the changes. We have taken a giant step forward. Have we done everything we need to do for small businesses or rural businesses, minority businesses? No. Have we taken a huge step forward so today they’re going to be in much better shape than they were before this bill passed? Absolutely. And leader McConnell did not propose a thing. He wanted to propose 250 for the PPP program when in fact the idle program and the grant program better serve small businesses and they’ve proposed no increases for those. We got significant increases in both of them.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:42)
If I may on that, Mr. leader. I’m very proud of the work of two of our chairman. Maxine waters, the chair of the banking committee and chairwoman Nydia Velazquez, chair of the small business committee. Minority women, women of power in the Congress chairs of the important committees who proposed working with their counterparts, ranking members in the Senate that were mentioned by the leader, this legislation that would benefit these under-banked smaller businesses. So, there is a $60 billion set aside for this particular purpose. It would not have been there without the democratic proposal, with just praising our Senate colleagues to the hill for sticking by that on the floor of the Senate. But this is designed in a way to make a change on how we recognize the vitality of our economy. It’s about small business. We plant a flag with small business. The entrepreneurship, the optimism to create a small business. You’ve heard me say again and again, nothing more optimistic than starting a small business except maybe getting married. But the fact is that there are many small businesses that do not have the same kind of relationships with banks that make them on a first come first serve basis be able to benefit. This has been a drastic change and as the leader said, will make a difference for the future as we deal with it.
Speaker 4: (16:13)
Speaker Pelosi, can I ask you a question as well? Will you allow proxy voting for perhaps the first time ever in the House on Thursday?
Nancy Pelosi: (16:21)
No. We have to pass a rule to enable proxy voting. So, the PPP will be on the basis of present and voting, and then we’ll go from there. But whatever we would do on proxy voting at this time would be strictly related to the coronavirus. How we have a discussion further is when we’re more fully present to do so. And to your question about coming back, it’s not just about us, it’s about the staff, it’s about the press, it’s about the security. It’s about those who run the buildings that we have to look out for their wellbeing because we care about them, but we also care about for people they go home to, their children and families as well.
Speaker 3: (17:08)
I have a two part question if both of you could answer it, what do you say to those who say that this package, even with what you call drastic changes, isn’t enough? That there’s not enough PPP funds, that there’s not enough for hospitals? And then madam speaker, as you said there, you’re advocating for provisions in COVID four that have already been rejected by Republicans. Why are you confident that in the next package they will agree?
Chuck Schumer: (17:33)
First thing, we agree it’s not enough. This was an interim package. Yeah. If there would be no COVID four, that would be a real problem. But there is going to be a COVID four what we will augment state and local business, hospitals, probably small business and do many other things. And we know there’ll be a COVID four because president Trump has been demanding a COVID four. In fact, because he said he wants to do infrastructure in it. He said that to us, Mnuchin, Meadows have said it to us repeatedly and they’re going to need a COVID four. We’re all going to need a COVID four to get America going again. COVID four will be much more along the lines of COVID two. Big, bold, robust with new things in it. Then COVID three five, the purpose of COVID three-five, which they laid out was to all augment some of the existing programs that didn’t have enough money and weren’t aimed at the right people. COVID four will be a world of difference. Bigger, bolder, better.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:27)
And to your point, the president has said he didn’t want to do state and local, we call it our heroes, because he wanted to do it in another bill. He has also said in his agreement on some of the pension language that he would agree to it. Mitch McConnell said, “No, I want to do it in another bill.” And also the public very much cares about the health and wellbeing of our heroes, our healthcare workers and first responders who risk their lives to save other people’s lives and now could lose their jobs. So, the empathy, the praise, the gratitude that people have for them is what will I think hold us in good stead when we talk about needing OSHA. Better protection language for them, for their safety in the workplace.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:20)
So, all of these things have been discussed with the idea of, “Well, we’ll take it up later.” Well, this is later. And if I may say on that score, almost every survey shows that the American people care so much about our first responders, our healthcare workers. And I think we’re unworthy, any of us, to say how grateful we are to them, how much we praise them, unless we’re willing to support them with the equipment that they need to be protected with the equipment they need to save lives, with the paychecks they need to survive without, as you said, 601 hospitals, something? That’s several hundred in another hospital, how could this be? So, I think that because of commitments and statements of the Republicans on some of these issues, we’ll take it up next and because of the great mobilization and concern of the American people, which is as Lincoln said, public sentiment is everything. How they have made their voices heard will help us get a very strong package next time. And that’s right now. As I say, we’re on our way because we have some that are overlapped from before and some that relate to state and local and that’s a running start on it.
Speaker 3: (20:36)
If I may-
Chuck Schumer: (20:36)
I would just say one more thing on that, and each time this has come up, the bills have moved in our direction. Why? As the speaker said, public sentiment is everything. The American people and even our Republican friends deep down realize something. They believe in the private sector, the private sector can’t handle this problem. It’s too big for them. Individuals, as brave as they are, can’t handle it alone. The only answer is a strong active government and that is why we’ve had the upper hand. In each case, the Republicans start out with a small thing in this COVID three aimed at corporate America. Why did we win? Well, a lot of reasons. The unity of our caucuses and the strength of our caucuses, the support of the American people, but ultimately our answers are the better answers to the COVID crisis, which is a more strong active focused government.
Nancy Pelosi: (21:30)
If I might add to that. There are two challenges that we have had in our respectful disagreement in the debate in the Congress of the United States, governance and science. Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have an unease with science. If they didn’t, we would have long ago come to testing, testing, testing in its fullest way. Testing, contact tracing, isolation much sooner than we did. Their delay and denial caused deaths because they didn’t respect science and they don’t favor governance. Now, they have to get used to the idea that the path to the future, to opening up our economy and our society again, is through science, science, science, governance, governance, governance.
Speaker 3: (22:25)
Have you received those commitments from Senate Republicans to address OSHA requirements, state and local funds? Have you received those-
Nancy Pelosi: (22:33)
Well, we did on the pensions, from the Republicans.
Chuck Schumer: (22:35)
Yes, on the pension bill, which we really care about. The blockage there, we did get some Republican support and even president Trump seemed interested in helping. On pensions, I called president Trump and urged him to be for it and he was. The block there was Mitch McConnell, but there’s a lot of Republican senators who want to help out with the pension issue. So, on some of these issues we do have Republican support. On others, we may not now, but we will get it.
Nancy Pelosi: (23:00)
And we had a large number helping us on the hospital issues. We didn’t get everything. Well, we got a lot. We always want more because the crisis continues to grow. What did they say? They had 11 Republican senators who shared our view on how we would go forward with the hospitals and I think that helped us make the progress that we have to make. But remember this is one principle here that the leader has been a champion on, and that is when we are talking about meeting the needs of our hospitals and meeting the needs of our heroes, our first responders, our hospital folks, our healthcare people and the rest is that we have to recognize the lost revenue that they have. Lost revenue for the public sector of the economy not producing the revenue that it should. For hospitals, the other opportunities they would have to pay the bills in the hospital, they don’t have that cashflow. So, one of the fights that we were successful with on this was recognizing revenue loss as well as coronavirus expenses. That makes a very big difference for them and it makes a very big difference for state and local, which we will be addressing in the next bill.
Chuck Schumer: (24:24)
In the hospital bill, they talk about the ways to get the money we insisted. The speaker was great. This was also last night around midnight, was your expenses for corona and your revenue loss. They resisted but we won that fight. Should we take one more?
Nancy Pelosi: (24:39)
That’s up to you.
Chuck Schumer: (24:42)
One more. Oh wait, two more because she didn’t get a chance. You go first and then you because you had a chance.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:43)
No, she had a chance. She started.
Chuck Schumer: (24:43)
Yeah, so you go.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:43)
Speaker 5: (24:44)
I was just wondering, earlier this morning a radio show attorney general William Barr said the Department of Justice would support legal action against states that continued to impose strict social distancing rules, even after coronavirus cases dropped. And I was reading-
Chuck Schumer: (25:07)
So much for state’s rights. I think he’ll be way off base. I think he’ll lose legally, and his view of an overarching, almost monarchical president never ceases to amaze me.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:21)
Well, it’s science, science, science, science is the answer to our prayers, and I wish that… I feel sad for some of the people who are going out in the streets and the rest because I’m afraid for their safety. Of course, they have the right to do what they do, but I don’t want them to endangering others, themselves or their families when they go home. But I think that the attorney general has injected himself into a place that I think even the public knows doesn’t make sense. I wish he would come to that conclusion himself. Thank you all very much.
Chuck Schumer: (25:56)
Wait, she gets the last one.
Speaker 6: (25:59)
Sorry, just one more question. I was hiding. How could quickly do you want a COVID four to happen and if we leader McConnell indicated that he wants the Senate to come back, Senate Republicans on the floor [inaudible 00:26:08]. What’s the solution here if you are not formal voting and how would this happen and how-
Chuck Schumer: (26:13)
The needs of the public will have to be predominant.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:15)
Chuck Schumer: (26:16)
Not our needs. We will listen to medical experts. We will listen to them because we set an example because as Nancy said, there are so many other people who work here, but the needs of the public will have to be predominant.
Nancy Pelosi: (26:28)
I share that. Thank you.
Chuck Schumer: (26:30)
Speaker 6: (26:30)
Speaker 5: (26:30)
Chuck Schumer: (26:35)
Nancy Pelosi: (26:37)
Keep your distance.