Remarks at Press Conference with House Democratic Leadership
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic Leadership held a press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center following the first day of House Democrats' Organizational Caucus Meeting. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Well, thank you so much, Mr. Chairman, for your kind words. I always accept any compliment on behalf of the House Democratic Caucus, because they enable any of what we do to be possible by their courage, their integrity and their just beautiful vision for a better America.
I want to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, on your election, re-election as Chair. I want to congratulate Steny Hoyer on his re-election, and Mr. Clyburn – as House Democratic Leader – House Democratic Whip, Mr. Clyburn, and a new member of the Leadership, the newest member – she's been a member of the Leadership as Vice Chair of the Caucus, now she is Assistant Speaker, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts.
It was a beautifully contested race, a good – I think Members were pleased. That's what I want to talk about. I wish that you could have seen the nominations and the acceptance speeches, because then you could have seen the common thread, the unity of our Caucus, the values and vision, the knowledge of our subjects, the strategic thinking. You hear me talk about that all the time, but all of it connected to the hopes and aspirations of America's working families. That is what unifies us.
So, I’m very honored. I’m actually – I was kind of emotional earlier because of some things that were said in nomination, but also listening to the other nominations as well, as to not only the vision but the depth of commitment, the values of our Caucus. So, I'm thrilled. I'm excited, and I can't wait to be working with the new President of the United States, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I'm sure we all share that view.
And now, I'm pleased to yield to the distinguished House Democratic Leader, Mr. Hoyer.
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Chairman Jeffries. Thank you, Madam Assistant Speaker. Any questions? We have time for a question or two.
Q: I wanted to ask the Speaker, can you talk a little bit about how you plan to unify the Caucus after the election in which you lost seats and there’s going to be a narrower Majority now. How do you plan to govern moving forward? How can you afford to pass meaningful legislation with just a few vote margin?
Speaker Pelosi. It’s – let me first thank you for your question. I thank my colleagues for their leadership and their remarks. And one thing that we all agree on, in our Caucus and in this Leadership and those who will be elected tomorrow, is that elections are about the future. It’s about the future. We can talk about our Founders and the inspiration they are. We honor them. We can talk about our relationships and how they serve us well in our Leadership roles.
But the fact is, it’s all looking forward, looking to the future. And our Caucus is unified in that respect, looking to the future for America’s working families. For The People we will lower health care costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, preserving the pre-existing condition benefit and other benefits. For The People we will increase paychecks by building our infrastructure in a green, resilient way. And For The People, we will have cleaner government.
So, we have had a tremendous amount of unity. The fact is, to have fewer Members, but the White House, but the White House is a source of – we’re sad to have lost the Members we have. We’re ready to go again. We’re preparing for that. We have been preparing for that. Some of our colleagues are ready to go again. Some are thinking about it. So, we just see the next election right on the horizon.
But I want to remind – because I tried to win the House, when I wasn’t in the Leadership and then when I was, when the Republicans had a six or seven vote Majority. People forget that, like in ’04, ’06, you look it up. Do we have a – we’ll make it known to you.
So, they make it look like this is historic. No, they had a smaller Majority. Now, we don’t know what our outcome will be. We’re still in New York, Illinois – Iowa – New York, Iowa and California. So, we’ll see what that comes out to.
But having the Majority, having the gavel, holding the House and winning the White House is time. It is an opportunity for us to work together with the President. And having a president is a unifying – has a unifying impact as well, especially when he’s a unifier like Joe Biden.
So, I’m excited about the prospect, and sometimes when there’s a smaller number of people, you see the urgency of listening to each other, respecting each other’s voice because we all have to go down the path mostly together.
Q: Madam Speaker, my question is for you. At the start of this Congress, there was a lot of discussion about possibly putting in place some kind of term limits for this leadership team. I’m curious if you anticipate that this coming Congress would be your last as Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let me just say that when that conversation took place, there was a move to put limits on the leadership and the chairs of committees. It never came up, they never brought it up. They said they were going to do it, they didn’t do it. But I said then – what I said then is whether it passes or not, I will abide by those limits that are there.
Q: So, is that a sort of Shermanesque kind of statement here? I mean do you anticipate them?
Speaker Pelosi. No, it’s not. It’s the statement that I’m making.
It’s the statement that I made. And we are – listen, if my husband is listening, don’t make me have to be more specific than that, because we never expected to have another term now. I consider this a gift. And I can’t wait to be working with Joe Biden and preparing us for our transition into the future. So, I don’t want to undermine any leverage I may have, but I made the statement.
Mr. Clyburn, Mr. Leader, you want – Mr. Chairman, anybody, do you want to take it on? You’re presiding so I don’t want to call on people you don’t –
Chairman Jeffries. Let me just simply say, we’re focused on the future and all that needs to happen, and the Speaker was elected with unbridled enthusiasm –
Speaker Pelosi. It was great. I have to say –
Chairman Jeffries. From the House Democratic Caucus.
Speaker Pelosi. … immodestly, without any of those people who voted for me saying, ‘Is this your last term?’ But nonetheless.
Chairman Jeffries. Last question?
Q: Sorry – I know that Leader Hoyer touched on that you guys do have a lot to get done before the 116th Congress.
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah.
Q: I wanted to know when you guys are looking at a potential COVID relief bill, government funding; could you put those two things together or do you anticipate that your talks with Secretary Mnuchin and Leader McConnell will start back up soon?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let me just say this because I appreciate your question. I’ve seen in one of the local metropolitan journals that we postponed during a bill until after the election. Not at all. Our bill passed in the middle of May. Since then, people have died because the Republicans in the House and Senate would not sign up to crush the virus, would not honor our heroes, would not respect the needs of America’s working families. So, we have been there – we’re in the middle of November now – for a long time. So, when they said, ‘Oh, they were just trying to wait until after the election,’ no, we weren’t. Because everyday people are dying and we need this to happen.
So, we’re hoping – Chuck Schumer and I, you saw our letter that we sent to Leader McConnell to say, ‘We’ve got to get this done.’ And this article said I should have settled for a smaller deal. No – it wasn’t a smaller deal; it was a deal that did not have crushing the virus, adequately honoring our heroes, adequately addressing the needs of America’s working families. It wasn’t a question of dollars, it was a question of what it would be spent on.
While they hesitated to do anything for Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit to prevent poverty, they didn’t hesitate to give $150 billion in tax breaks to the richest people in America, so we have our difference of opinion. But you would think that nearly a quarter of a million people who’ve died and over 11 million infected, that at least now with the prospect, the promise of a vaccine, they might want to implement some of the things that take us down that path.
I don’t know whether any of it would be part of the – we will pass an omnibus, we don’t want a CR, we’re on a good path to do that. I would hope that they would want to do something similar with the coronavirus.