Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Today
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, everyone. Here we are, five days before the election. Our focus has been so largely on stopping and crushing the coronavirus. In terms of the election five days from now, we are confident, we are calm and we are prepared. We are ready. We're ready to address the coronavirus in a way that is based on science, crushes the virus and addresses the impact on the lives, the livelihood and the life of our democracy.
We are at a fork in the road. The path we have been on has taken us to a place where we're approaching 9 million infections, a path to 250,000 people who have died, a path that has taken us to tens of millions of people on unemployment, 8 million people falling into poverty, 17 million children food insecure. Again, 23 members – million workers on unemployment. And the situation will worsen if we do not change our path.
The Heroes Act has offered a path: science‑based, well‑funded, that honors our heroes, crushes the virus and puts money in the pockets of the American people. I just recently last night – or this morning, this morning, sent a letter to Secretary Mnuchin spelling out some of the concerns. We are still waiting to hear back from the Administration. In good faith, I believe both sides have gone to the table to discuss the priorities.
Two weeks ago, the Secretary said that he was willing to accept our testing language. He just wanted to make a ‘light touch’ on the language. Two weeks ago, the ‘light touch’ was 55 percent of the language, largely eliminating our initiatives that addressed the disparities of the virus when it came to minority communities in our country.
More people in a minority community, I am told, have died of the virus than those not in the minority community. I've said it before, if you're a Black child, you have five times more chance of going to the hospital for COVID than if you're a White child. If you're Hispanic, eight times more chance.
It's sinful. It's sinful that we have not addressed protecting the lives of the American people on the path that this President has taken, starting with calling it a hoax, saying it's going to magically disappear. The list goes on. And even though, in all of our legislation, we have talked about testing as being a key to stopping the spread of the virus.
So, the letter is self‑explanatory. It talks about state and local government. What is it? The statement that was even in the Wall Street Journal that said that local – state and locals face the biggest cash crisis – state and local governments face the biggest cash crisis since the Great Depression. And yet, the President mocks and says this is unnecessary for us to do.
State and local government fiscal soundness is very important to our economy. Not only that, we want to honor our heroes. They're out there. They're fighting. Health care workers, first responders, police and fire, sanitation, transportation, food workers, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers. And the President says it's a matter of pride that he not support them.
Then we have safe schools. We should be – most of the schools in our country could be open actually, if we would take the scientific approach. It takes money. It takes more money than they are willing to put up, and we're asking for their response in that regard, to have more space, therefore, more teachers, ventilation, sanitation, technology to enable our children to actually attend school. Children learning, parents earning, so parents can go to work.
In the absence of that, we also want them to put more money for child care. If the children are not going to school, the parents cannot go to work unless we have more funding for child care. And they just will only go so far, and that's what we're asking them to go farther.
Again, 8 million families as the CARES benefits fade away, 8 million people, more people on – have fallen into poverty. There's a way out of that, Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit. These are working poor people falling into poverty. And yet, the number they gave us back was zero. They admitted that zero is not a number, even though they said they'd get back with a number. They don't hesitate to give $150 billion in tax credits – in a tax advantage to the wealthiest people in our country, and yet they refuse to help families from falling into poverty.
And, by the way, all of this is stimulus for the economy. Even if you don't care about people, as there's some question as to whether they do, you should understand that it is stimulus to the economy. People spend this money immediately, inject demand into the economy, create jobs. And that is what has helped the economy even in this third quarter, but now that fund – that money is fading.
Unemployment Insurance: we're still waiting for some of the response to the 5 million Americans who are exhausting their benefits.
OSHA and liability: safety in the workplace for us is not a subject – it's not a provision. It's not an item. It is a value. It is an ethic. Workers will be safe in the workplace, especially in the time of a pandemic where their exposure to it could not only make them sick but also their families if they bring that home.
So, we think that, you know, we have a list of concerns. Just give us your answers. Then you can weigh the equities if we don't like this or we like that or whatever it is and come to a conclusion.
But we are ready. I feel very confident that Joe Biden will be elected President on Tuesday, whatever the end count is, but on the election that occurs on Tuesday, he will be elected. On January 20th, he will be inaugurated President of the United States. So, while we don't want to be overconfident or assume anything, we have to be ready for how we're going to go down a different path.
We've come to a fork in the road when it comes to the coronavirus. The President has taken us on a deadly path. The Heroes Act takes us on a scientific path to help save the lives and the livelihood and the lives of the American people.
So, it's interesting to see how many people are turning out, voting in advance. It's a real – whoever they're voting for, it's a joy to behold people exercising their civic duty, honoring the sacred right that we have to vote in our democracy. It is appalling to see the obstacles to participation that the Republicans and the President are putting in the way.
We complain when other governments try to undermine the integrity of our elections or the credibility of our elections. That's one country and another, credibility or integrity of our elections. But it's appalling when the President of the United States contributes to that, placing doubt onto the credibility of our elections.
And to have a President who has said he may not – he may not accept the peaceful transfer of power. All the more reason for us to thank God for the courage of these people going out there to vote, waiting hours in line because the Republicans refuse to put money in this – in any of the legislation that we have had to the extent necessary to make sure that when people vote, there's ample space to facilitate. It's a discourtesy to the American people to say, ‘You go stand in line for hours. We can do something about it, but your time is not worth anything to us.’
So, again, this weekend shall be very interesting to see how many more people will vote in advance. I hope that people will not depend on the mail because they have done all they can to dismantle the Postal System, but I salute our postal workers, our letter carriers and those who are making the best of the situation, but even the Postal Service is saying it's too late now to mail. A First‑Class piece of mail to take more than five or six days to reach its destination is, speaks for itself.
So, here we are, and it is a remarkable, remarkable experience that our country has been through. Hundreds of thousands of people dying, millions infected, joblessness raging, poverty rates going up, 17 million children food insecure.
And just to say something about women, in September alone, nearly 1 million people – 1 million women left the workplace. One million women left the workplace. And what's the President's message to women? ‘We're getting your husbands back to work.’ Well, factually, it isn't even true, but in addition to that, what decade is he living in? What century is he living in? So completely removed from the realities of life, and that has caused death.
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With that, any questions you may have?
Q: Good morning. Thank you. Thanks for taking my question. You said you were confident in Joe Biden on Tuesday here. But I want to kind of ask you to look into the future a little bit on coronavirus, other issues that could come up here.
Speaker Pelosi. Right.
Q: You always talk about your Caucus and the beauty in the mix here.
Speaker Pelosi. That's right.
Q: There's a lot of diverse opinions.
Speaker Pelosi. That's right.
Q: Do you think, though, that that could be a problem, whether it be on coronavirus or some of these other legislative initiatives, environment, voting rights, John Lewis, those things where it's a push too far and that there is a schism between more moderates in your Caucus and –
Speaker Pelosi. No.
Q: Liberals – what they intend to do?
Speaker Pelosi. No. No, I don't. Our Caucus has a beautiful array of thinking, of generational, gender, gender I.D., ethnic background, geographic differences and the rest. But the one thing that unites us is our commitment to America's working families, and that means our children, their health, their education, the economic security of their families, a clean, safe environment, including gun safety, in which they can thrive, and a world at peace in which they can reach their fulfillment.
So, again, we don't, any of us, want to lead or represent a Caucus that is lockstep, lockstep Caucus. We invite the exuberances, the differences of opinion, and we do not see that as a problem. We see that as an invigoration.
Q: Madam Speaker, the economy grew at an annual rate of 33.1 percent in the third quarter. Does President Trump deserve any credit for that?
Speaker Pelosi. The CARES Act deserves credit for that. We had lost ground in the second quarter. This barely makes up for that. And the CARES Act deserves credit for injecting the resources into the economy, whether it's been in our subsequent CARES and the subsequent PPP.
So, it's as if – somebody used an example this morning, as if you lost $100 in the second quarter and now you're making up $65. Glory, hallelujah. No. And if we don't pass a recovery bill, a COVID‑19 bill, then we will face dire circumstances as well.
So, yes, Congress and the Administration worked together in a bipartisan way to pass the CARES Act, as well as subsequent legislation to inject resources into the economy. The lack of doing that this time is going to take us back down to another path.
Q: Thank you, Madam Speaker. If you are correct that Joe Biden is going to be elected, you're still going to confront a balance of power with President Trump and a Republican Senate for the lame duck. Would that not argue for you to take a somewhat smaller bill that the system can produce in the lame duck and then get the rest when Biden is President?
Speaker Pelosi. This is not a small – we're not talking size. We're talking quality. We are not going to take a small bill that has the bulk of reinforcing funds to the richest people in America, while questioning the integrity of people on Unemployment Insurance.
So, we'll have – we will – well, I want a bill for two reasons. First and foremost, the American people need help. They need real help. And, second of all, we have plenty of work to do in the Joe Biden Administration.
We're going to build the infrastructure of America in a green way. We're going to make sure health care is available to all Americans, lower the cost of prescription drugs. We're going to have H.R. 1, H.R. 1 right off the bat be about cleaner government so that we can reduce the role of big, dark, special interest money that prevents us from having policies that the American people need and are – have doubts that we can do unless we reduce the role of big dark money. And we have a number of bills that we have passed that we'll be ready for.
Of course, this will be impacted by the Joe Biden agenda. His Build [Back] Better is similar to our Moving America Forward, but nonetheless, we'll be working between the White House and the Congress to get those jobs done. So, we want to, we want to have as clean a slate as possible going into January.
We will have to do more on the coronavirus to make sure that the vaccine, God willing, will be available and that we'll take resources to make sure it's available to everyone, not just those in a position to pay for it. So, yeah, no, why would we be talking to them if we didn't want a bill other than our Heroes Act, $3.4 billion, which is what the – trillion, which the American people need?
Q: Well, they say –
Speaker Pelosi. But I'm not – we're not going to go anything like Mitch McConnell has. People are hungry. People are on the verge of eviction. People need money in their pocket. We have enormous challenges there.
They don't believe in governance. They don't like the public role in helping people, and they don't believe in science. So, they ignore the recommendations of science for masking, for testing, tracing, treatment, separation, ventilation, sanitation. We are in a terrible place, and it was a decision. It was a decision made by this President of the United States.
So, we have to have enough money to address that, and we still haven't gotten the yes from the White House on that subject. So, again, it has to be about the quality of what it is yet. It's not just something to say, ‘We surrender.’ They surrendered to the virus. We're not surrendering to it.
Q: How do you think about increasing corporate taxes given the state of the economy in a first couple months of the Biden – if there is a Biden Presidency in the first couple months?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, why don't we wait until we win the election, we have our transition and the President of the United States puts forth his agenda? I always have thought that when we do major tax policy, we should try to do it in as most bipartisan way possible, contrary to the dark of night, speed of light passage of a bill that gave 83 percent of the benefits to the top one percent in our country, and then they reinforce that in the CARES Act in the dark of night as well.
So, it's not a question of having that discussion here. I think there's a large – quite an agreement that we should have brought down the corporate rate, but we should not have given away the store at the expense of America's working families.
Okay. That's it. Thank you all very much.
Q: As a Giants fan, how do you feel about the Dodgers winning the World Series?
Speaker Pelosi. I’m okay with that. I’m a Californian, you know? So, while I – the Giants first, I’m happy with it. I’m sad about the little confusion at the end there, but it was great. It was great to see. Lakers, Dodgers, I mean, come on? How about that?
But isn’t it great to watch sports? Because it just takes your mind away. You forget your differences with other people. It’s just like the arts. Just therapeutic, not only entertaining. And what I like about sports: it’s about numbers. And I’m all about numbers, whether it’s elections or votes on the Floor.
But, sadly, the numbers, in this case because this President’s failure, are so staggering and sad and they compel us. It is imperative that we act on a different path than where the President has taken us, For The Children.