Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC's Live with Craig Melvin

October 23, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Craig Melvin on MSNBC’s Live to discuss COVID relief talks and other news of the day.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks: 

Craig Melvin.  We turn now to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, she’s a Democrat representing San Francisco.  Madam Speaker, always good to have you.  Thank you for your time.  Lots to get to.  Let's start with – let’s start with that debate.  President Trump invoking your name.  This is what he said while talking about shutting down the country. 

President Trump.  When I closed, he said I shouldn't have closed, and that went on for months.  Nancy Pelosi said the same thing, she was dancing on the streets in Chinatown in San Francisco. 

Craig Melvin.  Madam Speaker, were you dancing in the streets in Chinatown? 

Speaker Pelosi.  No, I wasn't.  But let me say in defense of Chinatown in San Francisco, it has been a model for how it has dealt with the pandemic. 

Let me just say that debates and elections are about the future, and the measure of last night for me was, between the two of them, who would be the person who takes us into the future?  And I think that was clearly Joe Biden.  He was unifying.  He was clear about how he would address the pandemic.  He was clear about how he would save the planet.  He was clear about making our country honor its values. 

I think that it's most unfortunate that the President didn't go to that place.  Because you know, presidential elections are the main event of political discussion in our country.  It's when people pay the most attention and it's an election that makes the most difference. 

Craig Melvin.  Madam Speaker, ongoing COVID relief talks were also part of that debate there on Thursday night in Nashville.  Vice President Biden says the President should have been negotiating with you and the rest of the Democrats and Republicans about the bills being passed for relief.  We just reported that record number high number of daily new cases on Thursday.  Eleven days left until the end of voting.  Are we going to get a new stimulus bill? 

Speaker Pelosi.  I would hope so.  And the fact is that the President has been back and forth: ‘Stop the negotiations,’ ‘Oh, I want more money than Nancy,’ ‘I hope she'll agree with me.’  But he has to talk to the Senate Republicans. 

But let me just say – it relates to the debate as well, as you indicated, the fact is that one of the best paths we're on in this negotiation is how we can crush the virus.  The Administration has avoided that for months and months and months, even though we had the resources and the language in previous bills.  It wasn't a requirement – they wouldn't agree to a requirement. 

In our legislation, which I hope that the Administration is just on the verge of accepting, they would, they must follow the science.  They must allocate the resources in a way that, again, follows CDC guidelines and the rest to crush the virus.  Because everything else we're talking about will just continue and perhaps worsen unless we crush the virus.  So, follow the science, mask wearing, testing, tracing, treatment, separation, ventilation, sanitation, get the job done that way.  But up until now they have resisted that. 

The biggest step forward that I’m happy about in the negotiations is I think they're about to embrace the science in a substantial way that, of course, also addresses the fact that more people in the minority community have died from this COVID-19 than in the white community.  Children, Black children, Hispanic children have five to eight times more chance of going to the hospital from COVID than a white child.  So, this – we have worked our way through this. 

Now, we have some other differences, but we are – we put pen to paper.  We're writing the bill and hopefully we'll be able to resolve some of the other differences.  We could do that before the election if the President wants to.  I think he does.  I think – I know we do.  But we want this to be a bipartisan bill, the next bill to come to the Floor, one that removes all doubt that it would become the law. 

Craig Melvin.  Madam Speaker –

Speaker Pelosi.  The President is delusional when he says we've turned the corner on this.  We haven't.  We have miles to go. 

Craig Melvin.  What makes you think that the White House is ready to come around? 

Speaker Pelosi.  I think the President wants a bill, I really do.  Why would we even be talking to each other?  Why would we even – this isn't like we have shared values or anything.  This is a negotiation, and I have every reason to believe – we've been professional, we've been organized in how we have compared language and the rest, gone back and forth with it.  We could be very close.  So, as I say – as I said, we're close enough to put pen to paper. 

But if this President isn't going to talk to the Senate on this – we're very different than the Senate.  Let me just say, I think this could be useful and for people to make judgments about this.  Between the Democrats and the Republicans, one of the biggest differences – well, two.  One is we believe in science, science, science, and we believe in governance, governance, governance.

So, if science says this is the path to crushing the virus, then you have to have some governance to say you must do these things, A, and we must allocate the resources to get it done.  That applies to this virus, which is such a tragic emergency for us all. 

But it also applies to climate change and the rest.  If you're in denial about science, then you don't want any regulation that will take us to a place which preserves the planet.  That just goes on and on.  But back to the coronavirus. 

I'm just optimistic.  You have to be optimistic in a negotiation, and you have to be confident about your point of view and humble enough to accept other views and come to a conclusion.  That could all be possible if, in fact, the President on any given day, he's one place or another, if on a given day he says, ‘I'm ready to accept the fact that we must make a decision to crush the virus.’  That is central to the whole discussion. 

And we've had this since March 4th.  But they just will not accept the science.  I don't know who they're taking advice from, who they had been taking advice from.  I think they're in a better place now. 

Craig Melvin.  Madam Speaker, you just alluded to climate change.  As you heard on Thursday night, Mr. Biden says he plans to transition the country away from the oil industry.  One could surmise that something like that might not play well in a good swath of Pennsylvania or Texas even.  When you heard him say that last night, what did you think? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, what I heard him say is something that has been a matter of discussion.  We have $38 billion in incentives for oil companies to drill. 

Let's not judge it in this moment because everything is different in the pandemic, so I don't have the statistics on their profits now.  But before that, they were making a trillion dollars a year, a trillion dollars a year, in profit.  They did not need $38 billion in incentives to drill.  Now, when I had a discussion with Republicans on this subject, when I said, ‘We can take that $38 billion and invest it in Pell grants and higher education, community colleges and the rest,’ they said, ‘Why would we do that?  Why would we do that?’  I said, ‘Well, can I tell people you said that?’  They said, ‘It's right in our plan.  Why would we take money from incentives for oil drilling to spend on community colleges and Pell grants?’  So, that's part of our discussion here. 

Now, in terms of transitioning, we have everybody at the table when we talk about the climate issue.  That's some of, shall we say, exuberances, different exuberances within our own party.  We have everybody at the table.  We have the private sector, the public sector, the non-profits, the enviros, labor, business community, people of faith, farmers, venture capitalists, every aspect, our Native American community, everybody there at the table as we go forward with legislation, as we will go forward with legislation to preserve the planet. 

It is a health issue, a public health issue.  It is an issue of jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, good-paying, green jobs, making us preeminent in the world in green technology.  It is a security issue.  National security experts tell us that all of this rising sea levels, encroachment of deserts, drying up of rivers, all of that causes migration.  It causes competition for habitat and resources, and that is a national security issue. 

And it's a values issue if you believe, as I do, that this is God's creation and that we have a moral responsibility to be good stewards of it.  We may not share that religious view, but we all agree we have a moral responsibility to our children to preserve this planet and pass it on to them. 

I'm so pleased with what Pope Francis has said about that right here in this Capitol five years ago, but on the ongoing.  So, this is a major – and again, if you don't believe in science and see the nominee for the Court said she wasn't sure about climate change, the science of climate change.  She also said she didn't understand if Medicare was constitutional. 

So, we have our differences about the role of government, a public initiative.  We don't want any more government than we need, but we can't have any less than to keep the American people healthy, preserve our planet and end this – crush this pandemic. 

Craig Melvin.  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Madam Speaker, thank you.  Thank you for your time.  Enjoy your weekend. 

Speaker Pelosi.  That will be hard, but thank you.