Transcript of Pelosi Interview on CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s The Situation Room to discuss the resumption of COVID relief talks after the President’s decision to walk away and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Wolf Blitzer. Madam Speaker, thank you so much for joining us, and as you know, there are Americans who are being evicted from their homes. They can't pay their rent. Many Americans are waiting in food lines for the first time in their lives. Can you look them in the eye, Madam Speaker, and explain why you don't want to accept the President's latest stimulus offer?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, because – thank you very much, Wolf. I hope you'll ask the same question of the Republicans about why they don't really want to meet the needs of the American people. Let me say to those people, because all of my colleagues, we represent these people. I have for over 30 years represented my constituents. I know what their needs are. I listen to them. And their needs are not addressed in the President's proposal.
So, when you say to me, ‘Why don't you accept theirs?’ Why don't they accept ours? Our legislation is there to do three things primarily: to honor our workers, honor our heroes, our health care workers, our police and fire, our first responders, our teachers, our transportation, sanitation, food workers the people who make our lives work. We couldn't be doing what we are doing without them. Many of them have risked their lives so that they – to save lives and now will lose their job because Mitch McConnell says, ‘Let the states go bankrupt.’ ‘Let the states go bankrupt.’
Wolf Blitzer. Excuse me for interrupting, Madam Speaker, but they need the money right now. And even members of your own –
Speaker Pelosi. I understand that. You asked me a question.
Wolf Blitzer. Members of your own Caucus, Madam Speaker, want to accept this deal, $1.8 trillion. Congressman Ro Khanna –
Speaker Pelosi. Wait a minute. Wait a second.
Wolf Blitzer. Let me just quote Ro Khanna, a man you know well. I assume you admire him. He’s a Democrat. He just said this, he said, ‘People in need can't wait until February. 1.8 trillion is significant and more than twice Obama stimulus.’ ‘Make a deal, and put the ball in McConnell court.’ So what do you say to Ro Khanna?
Speaker Pelosi. What I say to you is, I don't know if you're always an apologists, and many of your colleagues apologists, for the Republican position. Ro Khanna, that’s nice. That isn’t what we’re going to do, and nobody is waiting until February. I want this very much now, because people need help now.
But it's no use giving them a false thing just because the President wants to put a check with his name on it in the mail that we should not be doing all we can to help people pay the rent, put food on the table, to enhance benefits, that they don't lose their jobs if they’re state and local, that they – this – we are talking about the consequences of a pandemic, symptoms of a problem that the President refuses to address and that is the coronavirus. That is the coronavirus.
Wolf Blitzer. But we know, Madam Speaker, we know about the problem out there, but here are millions of Americans who have lost their jobs. They can't pay their rent. Their kids need the food.
Speaker Pelosi. That’s right, and that’s what we’re trying to get done.
Wolf Blitzer. $1.8 trillion and the President just tweeted, ‘Stimulus go big or go home.’
Speaker Pelosi. Right.
Wolf Blitzer. He wants more right now
Speaker Pelosi. That’s right.
Wolf Blitzer. So, why not work out a deal with him and don't let the perfect, as they say here in Washington, be the enemy of the good?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I will not let the wrong be the enemy of the right.
Wolf Blitzer. What is wrong with $1.8 trillion?
Speaker Pelosi. You know what? Do you have any idea what the difference is between the spending they have in their bill and that we have in our bill? Do you realize that they have come back and said all of these things for Child Tax Credits and Earned Income Tax Credits or helping people who lost their jobs are eliminated in their bill? Do you realize they pay no respect to the fact that child care is very important for people whose children cannot go to school because they are doing remote learning and, yet, they minimize the need for child care, which is the threshold with which people, mothers and fathers, can go to work if they have that? Do you have any idea at how woefully short their concern, their concern –
Wolf Blitzer. That is precisely why, Madam Speaker, it's important right now. Yesterday, I spoke yesterday to Andrew Yang who said the same thing. It's not everything you want, but a lot there.
Speaker Pelosi. Okay you know what? Honest to God. You really – I can't get over it because Andrew Yang, he’s lovely. Ro Khanna, he’s lovely. But they are not negotiating this situation. They have no idea of the particulars. They have no idea of what the language is here. I didn't come over here to have you – so you're the apologist for the Obama – excuse me. God forbid. Thank God for Barack Obama
Wolf Blitzer. Madam Speaker, I’m not an apologist. I'm asking you serious questions because people are in desperate need right now.
Speaker Pelosi. I’m saying to you, if we –
Wolf Blitzer. Let me ask you this.
Speaker Pelosi. Okay. Let me respond to you. If you’re going to answer your own question –
Wolf Blitzer. Madam Speaker, when was the last time you spoke with the President about this?
Speaker Pelosi. I don't speak to the President. I speak to his representative.
Wolf Blitzer. Why not? Why not call him, and say ‘Mr. President, let's work out a deal. It’s not going to be everything you want, not going to be everything I want, but there are so many Americans right now who are in desperate need. Let's make a deal.’
Speaker Pelosi. What makes me amused, if it weren't so sad, is how you all think that you know more about the suffering of the American people than those of us who are elected by them to represent them at that table. It is unfortunate that we do not have shared values with this White House and that they have, in their bill – why don't you talk about in their bill, a tax break for the wealthiest families in the country while they cut out the Earned Income Tax Credit for the poorest families and poorest children in our country; that we have to fight with them to get them to address the coronavirus crisis because they have said it's a hoax, it was magical, it's a miracle and it’s going to cure. It hasn't, and that's why we find ourselves in this situation.
I feel very confident about the knowledge that I bring to this, but, more importantly, the knowledge that my chairs are – our chairs of jurisdiction, science-based, academically documented, institutionally suggested in terms of what the cost would be to do it and to do it that way. And we talk about child care, yes. We talk about safety in the workplace, safety in the workplace. That is very important issue, especially in the time of the pandemic.
So, what I say to those people is, we are going to get a deal, and when we do, it will be retroactive. It will be retroactive.
Wolf Blitzer. Here is what you wrote in a letter to House Democrats, Madam Speaker, and I ask these questions only, as you know, so many millions of Americans are suffering right now.
Speaker Pelosi. But you quote two people who know nothing about the agreement. There is no agreement, but what the suggestions are there, as if they’re some authority on the subject. Please, give equal weight to all of the chairmen on the committees who have written this bill.
Wolf Blitzer. But so many of your fellow Democrats in the House, they want a deal right now.
Speaker Pelosi. Not, that isn't –
Wolf Blitzer. The Problem Solvers, they all want a deal right now. Here is what they are complaining about because you wrote a letter to House Democrats and you said this. Let me read a line from the letter you wrote. ‘The President only wants his name on a check to go out before election day and for the market to go up.’ Is that what this is about, to not allow the President to take credit if there is a deal that would help millions of Americans right now?
Speaker Pelosi. No, I don’t care about that. He is not that important.
But let me say this: with all due respect, with all due respect – and you know we have known each other a long time – with all due respect, you really don't know what you're talking about if, the plural of anecdote is not data. Yes, there’s some people who’ve said this or that. Overwhelmingly, my Caucus wants what is right for the American people. Overwhelmingly, our chairmen, who wrote the bill – read their statements, they all put out their own statements when they saw what the White House was proposing. So, do a service to the issue and have some level of respect for the people who have worked on these issues, written the bill to begin with.
Now, let me just say this in terms of the numbers. I want people to do the math. We had $3.4 [trillion] which would meet the needs of the American people for a sustained period of time. So that there was some certainty in what would happen. The Republicans said no. Well, so we took it down a trillion dollars by cutting the time. We took it down another $2 trillion – excuse me, $200 billion, so we are $1.2 billion dollars down. We came down to $2.2 [trillion].
At the same time, since tomorrow will be five months since we passed the bill, at the same time – because there was no resolution, Mitch McConnell said, ‘Let's pause,’ the virus didn't pause – now, we are at a place where we need more money, we need more money for PPE, for our small businesses, we need more money for our airlines, we need more money for our schools. So, we have absorbed nearly a half a trillion dollars more of expenses still within the $2.2 trillion, by cutting back.
Wolf Blitzer. I understand all of that and I have only the greatest respect for you.
Speaker Pelosi. So, do the math. We have come down – We have come down 1.6 or 7 trillion dollars.
Wolf Blitzer. Madam Speaker, I have only the greatest respect for you. I just want to point out though – $1.8 trillion, $1.8 trillion dollars is a lot of money. The American people need that money ASAP, because they are suffering right now. I’m not saying it's perfect –
Speaker Pelosi. And you don't care how it's spent? You don't care how it's spent.
Wolf Blitzer. I care how it’s spent. What I don’t understand is, why not –
Speaker Pelosi. Well, you don't even know how it's spent. You don't even know how it's spent.
Wolf Blitzer. Why not talk to the President personally? Call him up and say, let's get a deal tomorrow?
Speaker Pelosi. Look, let me say this. The President has sent Mr. Mnuchin to negotiate. That’s what we’ve done with other presidents. This isn't unusual. With President Bush, we had – we did this quite a bit because that is how you negotiate and then you take it to the President. Mr. Mnuchin, I think he has integrity representing his position.
Wolf Blitzer. He wants a deal.
Speaker Pelosi. May I finish, please?
But his – he has integrity representing his position, but his position has no integrity. They do not share our values. Have a little respect for the fact that we know something about these subjects. And there is a big difference between Republicans and Democrats, in whether they want a big tax cut to the wealthiest people in the country in their bill, in the CARES Act. We tried to take it out in this bill, instead, they took out the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, expanded health benefits to UI benefits to the extent that it was agreed to before.
Wolf Blitzer. Alright.
Speaker Pelosi. So, this is – I have every confidence in the arguments that we make because it's based on science and documentation. Our chairs know their stuff, they know what they are doing. With all due respect to the kind of people you were referencing – and I welcome their enthusiasm, I welcomed their interest, I welcome the originality of their thinking – but the fact is, we have a responsibility to meet the needs of the American people in a retroactive way so they are not at a total loss.
They are at a loss because the President has ignored the virus. I wish you would spend time on the fact that if he had not ignored the virus, we wouldn't be in the position we’re in, but we are. But we are.
And let me say about that, also, I hope that – I’m pleased that the pharmaceutical companies are taking the responsible position to halt, and hopefully then resume, because we want the public to have confidence in whatever therapies or whatever vaccines come along, that they will take them. And to people who say, ‘Well, I don't trust Trump on that,’ if we trust the Food and Drug Administration for what they are doing, the scientists there, who’ve been working 24/7 for months and months and months, excellent science – the science should call the shot and when they do, we should all trust it.
Wolf Blitzer. And let's hope they get more treatments. Let’s hope they get a vaccine. And Madam Speaker –
Speaker Pelosi. Yes.
Wolf Blitzer. I certainly respect you, but I also respect Ro Khanna. I respect Andrew Yang. I respect Members of the Democrats who are Members of the Problem Solvers. They want a deal because so many people right now are suffering.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, the Problem Solvers, by the way, don't have any Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit in their proposal either, but let's not go into that. You evidently do not respect the chairmen of the committees who wrote these bills.
Wolf Blitzer. I respect all of you.
Speaker Pelosi. And I wish you would respect the knowledge that goes into getting – meeting the needs of the American people. But, again, you've been on a jag defending the Administration all this time with no knowledge of the difference between our two bills, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to say that to you in person, virtually.
Wolf Blitzer. Madam Speaker, these are incredibly difficult times right now. We will leave it on that note. Thank you so much for joining us.
Speaker Pelosi. No, we will leave it on the note that you are not right on this, Wolf, and I hate to say that to you. But I feel confident about it and I feel confident about my colleagues and I feel confidence in my chairs.
Wolf Blitzer. It's not about me. It's about millions of people who can't put food on the table, who can't pay rent –
Speaker Pelosi. And we represent them. And we represent them.
Wolf Blitzer. And trouble getting by these long food lines that we are seeing.
Speaker Pelosi. And we represent them. We know them. We represent them and we know them. We represent them and we know them.
Wolf Blitzer. And I am just saying, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, as they say.
Speaker Pelosi. It is nowhere near perfect.
Wolf Blitzer. Madam Speaker –
Speaker Pelosi. Always the case, but we are not even close to the good.
Wolf Blitzer. Alright. Let's see what happens, because every day is critically, critically important. Thanks so much for joining us.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you for your sensitivity for our constituents’ needs.
Wolf Blitzer. I am sensitive to them, because I see them on the streets begging for food, begging for money. Madam Speaker, thank you so much –
Speaker Pelosi. Have you fed them? We feed them.
Wolf Blitzer. We’ll continue this conversation down the road, for sure.