Speaker Pelosi’s Remarks at Weekly Press Conference

November 18, 2021
Press Release

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, good morning.  Are you getting all ready for Thanksgiving?  Wondering when we're going to get out of here?

This is going to be a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We have so much to be grateful for every year, but especially this year with the miracle of vaccinations and the difference it's made in families’ lives and being able to come together – more than we were able to last year for sure – and testing again helping in that regard.  Again, this Monday we had another Biden Child Tax Credit go out to families, enabling them to care for their children.  And again, the bi – the bi – the BIF, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, good-paying union jobs across the country.  Again, water systems, roads, bridges, mass transit, broadband, so many good things for our country.  Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.  And again, we're ready for the passage of Build Back Better.  As you may know, the debate on the legislation has already begun on the Floor.  Before I go into that – and the good, the good-paying jobs, lowering of taxes, the lowering of cost and the taxing, that it's paid for by pay – having the wealthy and corporate America pay their fair share.  

I'm going to talk about some economic good news.  Since President Biden has been president, unemployment claims have – down 70 percent.  Since he has been president, there are [on track to be] seven million new jobs created under President Biden and Congressional Democratic leadership.  The [container] backlogs at the ports are now been reduced at least by 30 percent.  I've stayed close to this as a Californian and a port city.  And again, consumer spending is up.  Contrary to some fears, consumer fear of – spending is up.

Again, it’s going to Build Back Better: builds on this progress with transformative measures.  Let me talk about that.  Good-paying jobs.  It Builds Back Better and Builds Back Better For Women especially, but others who have been under – not being able to participate in the economic prosperity of our country in the fullest way.  By having, again, good-paying jobs that go with health care and the Care Can't Wait initiatives in the legislation.  And of course, good-paying jobs in the green sector as we protect our planet for future generations.  Cutting taxes: the Child Tax Credit, as I mentioned earlier, making a difference in the lives of America's families.  Lower costs, especially in the prescription drug area, where the – we're negotiating for lower prices, but also we are preventing Pharma from raising prices above inflation.  And again, it's paid for by wealthy corporations paying their fair share.

How women will be more in the workplace – and dads, too, should they have responsibilities at home, which I assume they do.  It's universal, free pre-K, pre-K and child care which goes with that, enabling – liberating women to be more fully in the workplace.  It's about home health care.  If you – as a man, woman, whatever – in terms of parent or grandparent, have someone home to care for, whether it's an elder or a sibling with disability or child.  Now you can have access to home health care.  This is important not only to liberate the person to go to work; it's important to respect the workers who will do the home health care.  And that, that is transformative.  That is a new initiative.  It will also talk about – again, millions more people being able to be on the Affordable Care Act and lowering costs for, lowering costs for people on Affordable Care Act who pay for their own insurance.  It is very important health piece.

In terms of the investment in combating the climate crisis – think I've seen you since I was in Glasgow, we had a delegation: twenty-two Members, our Chairs, some of our Members of the Select Committee.  We were happy to have new Members of Congress: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, joining some of the Members of her class there.  They had their own press conference – the class of 2018 – about how to approach the climate crisis.  That gave us great hope.  We had highest level meetings there.  And we're inspired by what happened and it, it took a giant step forward.  But, we have to do our share – our fair share.

And so what that's about is creating good-paying – it's about health care for our children: clean air, clean water.  It's about jobs, jobs, jobs – good-paying union jobs, to keep us preeminent in green technologies throughout the world.  You've heard me say it's a national security issue, as the national security advisors tell us a competition for habitat and resources with drought and rising sea levels, et cetera, can cause a conflict.  And, of course, a moral obligation for us to hand this planet over to the next generation in a responsible way.  For me, it's a religious thing: I believe this is God's creation, and we have moral obligation to be good stewards.  But, if you don't share that view, you must share the view that we have an obligation to future generations.

So we're very excited about what is in there, and it is paid for.  It's paid for.  In terms of timing, received all – well, I'll tell you about process right now.  It's paid for by having [corporations] and individuals pay their fair share.

In terms of timing: right now, we're awaiting just a few more, like, one more committee and a piece of another committee from the Senate for the scrub, in case you're interested in the timing of this.  We expect, by this afternoon, to have the information we need from the Ways and Means Committee.  As soon as we get the scrub information, we can proceed with the Manager's Amendment to proceed to a vote on the new rule with the Manager's Amendment reflecting the scrub.  Not any process – not any policy changes, but just some technicalities about committee jurisdiction, et cetera.  And, then we will, we will vote on the rule and then on the bill.  Those votes hopefully will take place later this afternoon.  The – right now, we are debating the legislation: on how it creates good-paying jobs, how it cuts taxes for the middle class and how it lowers costs for America's working families and how it is all paid for. 

In that regard, seventeen Nobel Prize-winning economists said this agenda, ‘invests in long-term economic capacity and will enhance the ability of more Americans to participate productively in the economy, [it] will ease longer-term inflationary pressures.’  Moody's – they have said that the BIF and the BBB ‘do not add to inflation pressures, [as] the policies lift long-term economic growth via stronger productivity and labor force growth and take the edge off of inflation.’  That's Moody's. We'll get, again, the final CBO estimates later this afternoon, hopefully by five o'clock.

As we think of all of this progress – and it's very, it's pretty exciting.  This is historic; it is transformative and will help us Build Back Better With Women and all those who had not previously had the full advantage.  But – this workforce development and the rest in the legislation.  But as we celebrate the passage of the bill and prepare for its implementation – but we still need to be thankful for the progress we've made on COVID, but attentive to the sadness that people have suffered in the past eighteen months, longer, nearly twenty months in our country.  They've suffered loss of their loved ones, they've suffered loss of their livelihood in some case, and we have to be empathetic toward what that is, as we rejoice in the vaccinations and the testing that take us to a better place.  

Combating the virus is our first priority.  And that is why we're grateful that, under the Biden Administration, averaging nearly 300,000 first shots for people aged twelve and older; 300,000 first shots and 27 million people have received boosters – third shot.  Quadrupling the supply of at-home tests, launching initiatives to increase vaccine confidence in communities of color, boosting vaccine manufacturing to increase global supply by an extra one billion doses each year.  And ten days into our work to vaccinate kids aged five to eleven, ten percent of kids have been vaccinated.  Have you seen some of them on TV?  Being happy to be on TV, being sad to get a shot – some combination thereof.  Science in the Biden Administration have taken us closer to the end of the pandemic, and we will not relent until the virus is crushed. 

Yesterday was a very sad day in the Congress of the United States, because we had to censure one of our Members for promoting violence against another Member.  What was sad, particularly sad, about it is that, though it was involving violence against women, it was a source of humor and bragging by Members of the other side of the aisle.  This is just, I mean, just stunning. 

For me, it was very sad because I have such great respect and love for the institution of the House of Representatives, the place that serves in our Constitution as the People's House – the constant reinvigoration of people having to go out and get reelected every two years, every session of Congress.  It is a great place, and great things have happened here, and for us to not uphold the dignity of the House – so, that is Rule XXIII: ‘Provide that our code of official conduct that we’ – I’ll read it, so that you know it's not me, it's the code – ‘shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect credibly on the House.’

Sadly, sadly, what happened yesterday brought shame to the House.  And again, gleefully, on the part of the Republicans.  This is quite different.  When they're endangering lives of Members, they set a bad example for other people to endanger lives of people.  It's not just about Members of Congress – it's about the American people and the safety that they should enjoy. 

When I was on the Ethics Committee, and as long, as the longest-serving person on the Ethics Committee – I say that as paying my dues to this great institution – we all had that obligation.  One of the investigations we had was of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, Speaker Newt Gingrich.  That punishment was reprimand and a fine of $300,000.  The Speaker of the House, the vote was – [395] bipartisan vote, charging the Speaker of the House.  395 to 28.  Yesterday, two Republicans would agree that it's not appropriate to have violence against women, workplace harassment, bad example for the rest of the country, dishonor to the House of Representatives in which you serve.  Two – versus, Democrats and Republicans, 395 versus 28.  No – Republicans and against the Speaker of the House at the time.

So, it was most unfortunate.  But, nonetheless, I was – I wanted – very proud of our committees.  Right away, as soon as we came back Monday, the Rules Committee went into action.  Jim McGovern, as usual, and the Rules Committee prepared us to come to the Floor.  We met with the Leadership and the Members to see what the approach should be, and it was overwhelming that we would – we could not let this stand, and we had to go for the maximum penalty that we could achieve.  Anything more than that would have required two-thirds vote of the Congress, and you know that that was not a possibility. 

In any event, we were very proud of the work of Ted Deutsch, the Chair of the Ethics Committee, as I said, Jim McGovern, right away the Motion of Censure from Jackie Speier, distinguished Members of Congress.  And also, I thought Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke so beautifully on the Floor – why can't you admit that this is wrong when someone is talking about violence against another Member of Congress or against anyone? 

***

Any questions?  Let me see.

Q:  On the second bullet point on your board there: can you respond to the criticism that, when all is said and done on this bill, the people who get the biggest tax cut are millionaires who can take advantage of the changes in the state and local tax deductions?

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you for that question.  As a supporter of that particular measure in the bill, I want to just say – and thank you for allowing me to clarify what that is about.  That's not about tax cuts for wealthy people.  It's about services for America's – the American people.  In our communities, where we have taken care of our people – education, transportation, health care, all of the issues that public service brings to people – was slashed by the Trump Administration.  And we're just turning that over. 

So, this isn't about who gets a tax cut.  It's about which states get the revenue that they need in order to meet the needs of the people, and that is a fight that I will continue to make. 

Q:  That is still the result though.  I mean, that is still the result.

Speaker Pelosi.  No, isn't it isn't the result.  That isn't the result.  The fact is, is that the dynamism that is injected into our states For The People is what is important here.  And we're not going to have our states with their hands tied behind their back because the former President in the tax scam that they put out there, giving 83 percent of the benefits to the top 1 percent in our country, while penalizing states that were meeting the needs of their people.  So, let's see this in the perspective that it is.  The tax scam of the Republicans added $2 trillion, at least, to the national debt, giving 83 percent of the benefits to the top 1 percent, penalizing states who are doing their – honoring their responsibilities of public service to the people.  We’re reversing it, turning that around.

Q:  Madam Speaker, the Helms and Hyde Amendments are still not in the reconciliation bill.  But weeks ago, Chairman Jeffries said that anything is on the table.  Is that still –

Speaker Pelosi.  That’s not in the bill.  It's not in the bill.  Thank you for your question.  It's not in the bill.

Yes, ma’am?  Then, you.

Q:  My question – you talk about the timing here –

Speaker Pelosi.  Are any women asking questions?  You go quickly.  Okay.  Quickly.

[Laughter]

Q:  Thank you.  You talk about the timing here – later tonight, tomorrow, maybe Saturday.

Speaker Pelosi.  I didn’t say Saturday.  Did you say Saturday?

Q:  Well, we’ve been to this dance before.  That said, when you moved Obamacare, you voted on Christmas Eve day in the Senate on the first version.  It took a long time after that.  You had the Scott Brown situation.  Does it keep you up at night when you have a three-seat majority right now, a 50-50 Senate, but something could happen in between – and the longer this takes, that this could sidetrack?

Speaker Pelosi.  No, absolutely not.  No, absolutely not.

What keeps me up at night is the fact that in the Congress of the United States, when we had a really historic infrastructure bill – bigger than any infrastructure we've had before – that the Republicans in the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted against jobs, jobs, jobs for their constituents.  And not only that – had death threats to their Members that did vote for the bill, and then take credit for it.  Vote no, take the dough, penalize those who voted for it.  That's what keeps me up at night.

Yes, sir?

Q:  Are you at all comfortable with the very – the likelihood that if Republicans take the majority, they may retaliate against Democrats, remove them from their committees for any perceived or even serious offense that may happen?

Speaker Pelosi.  Is the inference that I draw from your question that we should have not censured Mr. Gosar for his shameful behavior for fear of something the Republicans might do in the unlikely case that they might win the Congress?  Even if they do, we can't – I don't expect that that's the case, and I'm doing everything in my power to make sure it isn't – not just because of Gosar, but because of our democracy, which they are undermining every single day.  And you see their behavior on the Floor that says they shouldn't have a gavel to be anywhere near them ever.  But no, we would not walk away from our responsibilities for fear of something they may do in the future.

Yes, ma’am?

Q:  Senator McConnell has said on several occasions that he is –

Speaker Pelosi.  Who?

Q:  Senator McConnell –

Speaker Pelosi.  Okay, thank you.

Q:  Is relying on Senator Machin and Sinema to add amendments once this bill enters the Senate chamber.  Are you at all concerned about what that might do to the timeline of overall passage at this point?

Speaker Pelosi.  No, no.  No I’m not.

Q:  Are you privy to what those amendments might be or concerned about changes in the bill?

Speaker Pelosi.  No, no, I think – no, I'm not.  I'm not.  This legislation is so historic.  It is so transformative.  It is so different in terms of so many things that we have all agreed on.  Free, universal pre-K.  Child care – we’re lowering the costs where no middle class income family will pay more than [7] percent of their income.  Issues that relate to expanding the Affordable Care Act to contain those who were cut out by certain states.  Home health care, so that families can be assured of going to work knowing that their family member is cared for.  Issues that relate to negotiating for lower drug prices and preventing Pharma from raising prices above inflation.  Many of these things are so substantial.  

Now, should the Republicans offer some votes in a vote-a-rama – I feel that we're probably in pretty good shape where we are.  And I didn't even go into saving the planet and meeting the President's goals.  So, no.  I think that whatever happens in the Senate – and their rules are different.  But just so you know, what happens is this: the bill will go over to the Senate, then it gets realigned according to their Senate Committees, which are different from our [House] Committees.  They're just different.  We just have different alignments of committees that get realigned like that.  And then, the Senate will act its will on it.  But whatever it is, it will still be transformative and historic.

And I don’t fear that. Yes ma’am.

Q:  Thank you Madam.  Can you talk a little bit – the polling has shown that the President is in a bit of a slump, the Democratic Party has had some challenges in its own polling.  What, what, why do you think that is?  And, and as you look forward to taking this on the road and talking to people about it, how hard is it going to be to get Americans to sort of understand all of what you're trying to lay out here?

Speaker Pelosi.  I agree with you.  There is a great deal in the legislation.  But, we divide it into: saving the planet, Care Can’t Wait – in our care pieces – and, and the health pieces in there, which is related to the care piece.  

The Members have committed to 1,000 town meetings, events, one way or another.  When we saved the Affordable Care Act from the tentacles of the Trump Administration, we had 10,000 events around the country of people telling their stories.  And people telling their story – and that was over a period of time – but people telling their stories, that's the most eloquent message of all.  People telling what it means to have home health care, so that they can work, to be assured that their children are learning when they are earning, to have some assurance about what it means to have health care.  So, if someone in your family takes ill that – all of those things are, again, personal stories.

And then from a policy standpoint: again, saving the planet is a responsibility that we have based on science and morality.  It isn't a set of values that seems to be shared on the other side of the aisle – got their hand in the pocket of fossil fuel industry.  We're looking to the future.  So, I think that these messages will, again, not just from our Members, but from others.

I'm a big – I’m an organizer, that's how I came to Congress.  I’m an organizer – and Chair of the California Democratic Party, which I thought was the pinnacle of all success, the biggest Democratic Party in the country.  But, so we are big believers in mobilization.  The inside, what we do inside, can only get us so far – the inside maneuvering.  The outside mobilization is really the glory of it all and makes the policies so much better.  And again, those are the messengers of eloquence about what all of this means in their lives. What it means for kids if we have green initiatives that stop the spread of asthma and have clean air and pollution.  The President's initiative to reduce pollution by 50 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.  What that means in people's, children's lives, especially in some underserved communities.  What it means that have workplace training, so that people can be part of the new green technologies as we go in into the future.

It's very, it's pretty exciting.  And again, it is a lot – I'll grant you that – and people say, ‘Well, it's too much.’  But, if you're just thinking of the well-being of America's working families – how it will create good paying jobs, cut taxes for them, lower costs for them and, again, not increase the national debt.

Yes ma’am.

Q:  Can I have a follow up on my question?  When you were touting the ACA right before it passed –

Speaker Pelosi.  Excuse me, I'm sorry, I just can't hear you.

Q:  When you were touting the ACA, before it passed, there were popular provisions of that that took years for the public to appreciate things like pre-existing –

Speaker Pelosi.  Oh, the ACA you’re talking about?  Yeah.

Q:  Yeah.  So, what makes you think that this effort is any different?

Speaker Pelosi.  I think it’s different –

Q:  Because, like you said, a lot of  these things take years to go into effect.

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I think it's different in this respect, with all due respect to everybody else around.  Okay.  Joe Biden, Joe Biden is very committed to messaging this.  As you see, he's already on the road – been to Baltimore, New Hampshire, Maryland, New Hampshire, Michigan, just in the last few days since the bill, the BIF bill was signed.  And now, to Build Back Better.

So, I think there's no substitute for the bully pulpit of the President of the United States, especially when reinforced by the events that we will have throughout the country, as well as the mobilization of the grassroots of people who know what this means in their lives.  So, I think that the, shall we say, the messaging on it will be immediate, and it will be intense, and it will be eloquent, and it will make the difference.

And, I'll see you later this afternoon on the Floor of the House as we further advance our Build Back Better initiative For the People, with the women.  Thank you all very much.

And, if I don't see you, have a happy, happy Thanksgiving.  Thank you.