Transcript of Pelosi Interview on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week 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:
George Stephanopoulos. And that’s where we go to our first guest, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Madam Speaker, thank you for joining us this morning. I want to get to the latest on the stimulus negotiations with the White House. But first, your reaction to that new salvo from President Trump last night. Governor Whitmer said this: ‘This is exactly the kind of rhetoric that has put me, my family and the lives of other government officials in danger.’
Speaker Pelosi. The President has to realize the words of the President of the United States weigh a ton. And in our political dialogue, to inject fear tactics into it, especially a woman governor and her family, is so irresponsible. And in all fairness to people who listen to him, people think the president is important and what he says should be adhered to, and so, we have this horrible situation. But the people have awakened to him, 26 million people already voting. The biggest antidote to his poison is the vote.
George Stephanopoulos. A lot of Americans are hurting, as you know, as well, Madam Speaker. I know you have been negotiating with the White House over a possible economic relief package. You spoke with Secretary Mnuchin last night.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes.
George Stephanopoulos. Any closer to reaching a deal?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we're seeking clarity, because actually – with all the due respect to some of the people in the President’s Administration – they're not legislators. So, when they said, ‘We are accepting the language on testing, for example, ‘We’re just making a light touch,’ they said. They changed ‘shall’ to ‘may,’ ‘requirements’ to ‘recommendations,’ a ‘plan’ to a ‘strategy,’ not a strategic plan.
They took out 55 percent of the language that we had there for testing and tracing. And the tracing part is so important, because communities of color have been disproportionally affected by this. So, on this subject where we have agreement, we don’t have agreement in the language yet, but I'm hopeful.
And here is the big difference. Communities of color have more deaths than the white population. Let’s just think of this: if you are a child, a Hispanic child has eight times more chance of going to the hospital with COVID than a white child. A Black child, five times more chance of going to the hospital. That is because we have not addressed the problem. The testing, the tracing, the treatment, the mask wearing, the separation, the sanitation and all that goes with it.
So, again, hopefully we can learn from each other and they understand –
George Stephanopoulos. So, you’re –
Speaker Pelosi. Let me just say this. We have pages and pages of how you would do this in the minority community. They crossed it all out. Instead, they put this sentence: ‘Contact tracing will be paid for by the federal government as part of the $75 billion.’ Okay, we agree to that. ‘But given state difference, each state shall establish a strategy that is appropriate to its circumstances. CDC can provide guidance to the states on elements.’ ‘Can.’ No, ‘must.’ But in addition to that, we have to have a national plan. You cannot leave it up to the states to decide how they are going to address the minority community. It is very –
George Stephanopoulos. If you don't get that agreement in the 48 hour deadline you set, what happens?
Speaker Pelosi. Here’s the thing. The 48 only relates to if we want to get it done before the election, which we do.
George Stephanopoulos. Well, don't you? Yes.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, so – which we do. But we're saying to them, ‘We have to freeze the design on some of these things. Are we going with it or not, and what is the language?’ I'm optimistic because, again, we’ve been back and forth on all of this.
You know legislation. Shall, ‘shall,’ is different from ‘may.’ Shall – the difference amounts to this, if you think of it this simple way: when you say ‘may,’ you're giving the President a slush fund. He may do this, he may grant, he may withhold.
When you say shall, according to the scientific – the science tells us must happen. And if we test and trace and treat, masks, separate, ventilate, sanitize, and all the rest of that, we can open our schools –
George Stephanopoulos. But, Madam Speaker –
Speaker Pelosi. We can open our businesses.
George Stephanopoulos. Even if you reach a deal with the White House somewhere around $1.8 [trillion], $2 trillion, Leader McConnell has said he’s not going to put something like that on the Floor of the Senate. So what happens?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, he did – he said a number of things and one of the things that he said, I think it was yesterday, was – but it was reported yesterday – that if the White House and the House come to an agreement that he would put it on the Floor. That is among his many statements. But most of the time he spends it laughing. Pushing the pause button, telling states to go bankrupt, laughing when – in his debate, did you see that? When Amy McGrath was saying to him, what are you doing about stopping spread of the virus et cetera, he laughed. He laughed.
This is not funny. The President didn't take it seriously. This – McConnell has not taken it seriously, but we can stop this if we follow the science and be ready for a vaccine, which I hope will be soon.
George Stephanopoulos. You have not spoken to the President in over a year. Are you willing to pick up the phone to close a deal to get this done?
Speaker Pelosi. Let me just say this, because I keep on getting that question. It isn't about the President. He sends his representative. President Bush sent his representatives. President Obama sent his representatives, professionals who know something about the policy. This is not unusual.
However, however, I have a great deal of respect for the office that I hold, Speaker of the House, and I have a great deal of respect for the position that he holds, President of the United States. This is not a casual conversation. This is about a meeting of the head of the first branch of government, the Legislative branch, and the President.
If there is a purpose, if there is a stipulation of trying to get something done, then perhaps we take this to that place when we can't solve other problems.
But many of you have spent many times calculating how many times the President has misrepresented the facts, how many times the President has told me and told Chuck Schumer that, ‘Yes, were going to do this for Dreamers,’ or told bipartisan, bicameral representatives in the Congress, ‘Yes we’re going to do this on immigration,’ told us, ‘Yes, we're going to do this on infrastructure.’ But then he doesn’t.
So, again, you want to meet with him, you meet with him. As far as I’m concerned, the Speaker of the House must be respected in terms of what the purpose of the meeting is, what the preparation is for and what the likely outcome of success would be.
George Stephanopoulos. Bottom line, Madam Speaker, are Americans going to get relief before election day?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, that depends on the Administration. The fact is, is that we cannot – the heart of the matter is to stop the spread of the virus.
Now, let me speak to you from the standpoint of children, because that is my ‘why.’ That is why I'm in government and politics. For The Children, we could – we're having a big debate with them now over Earned Income Tax Credit. They gave a tax break to the richest people in America. We want an Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Child Dependent Tax Credit, For The Children. Six to eight million, depending on whose calculation you use, million kids are now in poverty in our country, and these are – many of them are children.
So, this will alleviate, take millions of children out of poverty, send them to schools that are, that take money to have the separation, the ventilation, the number of teachers there to teach them, have the – correct this coronavirus that is affecting Black and Hispanic children in a much greater way than white kids.
And that takes us all back to state and local government, which is the source of health care, education, first responders, police and fire, food, sanitation and the rest. There is a oneness to this.
I think we can get there, but if you think of it in terms of the children and child care. Child care, they're rejecting our number on child care, which is greatly reduced. But they’re rejecting it, saying –
George Stephanopoulos. So, you think –
Speaker Pelosi. It doesn’t – child care is very – people can't go to work if their children can't go to school.
George Stephanopoulos. Finally, Madam Speaker, I do have to move on, but I just want to ask you one final question about Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Last time we spoke you said Democrats had arrows in their quivers to block this nomination, but she seems like she’s on a path to confirmation right now. Is this a done deal or is there still something Democrats can do to stop it?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we’ll see. I'm not in the Senate. I don’t – what I’m talking about is how we can win this election. Because we have to offset whatever a court – whatever the outcome of this, whatever this Court may do. And the House, the Congress the United States can overturn these bad decisions. For example the Court just did one on the Census. The Census is a disagreement we have in this bill. This is very important, who we are as a nation, and yet, the Court just agreed with the President to stop the Census.
So, again, because we want to have an agreement, we can come to negotiation. And we can do it now. What’s the difference a few days, except that we could have it before the election – which, we want it as soon as possible. And I certainly want it because I don't want to have to be sweeping up after this; dumpings of this elephant as we go into a new presidency in a few short months.
George Stephanopoulos. Madam Speaker, thank you for your time this morning.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. My pleasure. Good morning to you. Stay safe.