Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Today

November 4, 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.  Thank you for your patience. 

We were just finishing our House Democratic Whip Meeting.  That's – for the others out there – really a part of our Caucus, where we heard from our magnificent Chairmen and had a Q&A with our Members, with each Chair, about the specifics in the legislation, as amended, from what they have seen since last week. 

It was very inspiring and heartening to see the depth of knowledge, the value-based decisions that were made in the committees and the, just the ongoing commitment to getting the job done For The People.  

I want to say that I'm so proud of the President – and I'll come back to some of that – but the President returning from representing America, to show that America is back, whether it comes to fighting the pandemic of COVID, whether it's saving the planet from the climate crisis, whether it's enormous success that he had with the global minimum tax – a major, major accomplishment.  Making progress in how we deal with keeping Iran from becoming nuclear and also issues that related to, again, global security, security, security, economy and governance. 

He also had a beautiful visit with His Holiness the Pope before going to COP.  You know his schedule, but you don't know the pride we take in all of it.  I was particularly inspired by his visit with His Holiness the Pope, fresh off of my own visit.  Some of – I've heard some of you cavalierly say on TV, ‘Why don't the Congress go there?’  Well, I did.  I did when I was in Rome for the G20 of Parliamentarians, which preceded the G20 of the leaders of the countries. 

And it is, it's just – to see His Holiness's commitment to the people of the world, whether we're talking about a pandemic or whether we're talking about a planet, just so inspiring.  So, to see the two of them: the President of the United States, a devout Catholic, and His Holiness the Pope, a glorious leader but also knowledgeable about saving the planet, respectful of the refugees that could spring from migrations and are springing from other conflicts. 

So, again, proud of the President and also for him to come home at a time – he was only been gone a few days, but in that time the system was established for children, little children, to be able to get the vaccination to keep them safe, to keep their families safe because we know how things spread in school.  And to see the beautiful pictures of the children, some of them near tears when getting a shot, others very proud of the fact that they're going to be on TV or whatever. 

So COVID, COVID, COVID.  It begins and ends everything we do, now that we see nearly – it's about 750,000 people who have died from COVID in the United States, 5 million in the world.  So sad.  

Sadly, this morning, some of our Members are saying goodbye to Congressman Dale Kildee of Michigan.  Dale Kildee was a very respected Member of the House of Representatives for a very long time, and he had a noble spirit of public service.  He, too, was in the church – and I don't know if he was actually ordained, but he was studying for the priesthood.  And he brought those values to the Congress, with a definite separation of church and state.  So, our prayers are with his nephew, Dan, who serves with us now, and to his wife, Gayle, and the rest of the family.  Goodbye to Dale Kildee. 

Hello to our new Member, Congresswoman-elect Shontel Brown, elected in Ohio.  I think it was, like, 80-20 in the election.  She's a proud daughter of Cleveland, a strong advocate for working families and a courageous voice for civil rights.  She's here to Build Back Better, and I'm happy to swear her in later today. 

Okay.  So, Build Back Better.  That's why you're here, right?  We, as I said, are just completing a meeting of the House Democrats.  Again, I wish everyone could see the pride we take in the work that has been done by the Members, by the Chairmen, by the staff.  Relentless.  And not only our own staffs and committee staff but the Congressional Budget Office, the Leg. Council Office and the rest. 

This morning, we have a report from Joint Tax, which is very – documenting how the bill and validating how the legislation is paid for.  It came in about 10 o'clock.  I referred it to you for your review.  It's very solid because people say, ‘Well, is it really paid for?’  There are people who say, ‘It isn't paid for.’  You know, other people say a lot of things, but this document from Joint Tax is objective.  It's not Democratic; it's not Republican.  It's an objective view that it is solidly paid for.  And that doesn't even take into account the money that we'll get from, what we're very proud of, an agreement on prescription drugs, which generates resources, as well as enforcement, which is several hundred – $400 billion in enforcement. 

So, here we are with all of this.  The prescription drug bill is something that is news from this last week.  It enables us to do something we've been trying to do for a very long time: have the Secretary of HHS negotiate for lower drug prices, halts Pharma's outrageous price hikes above inflation and expands ACA to make coverage more affordable for those who buy insurance on their own.  So, it's not just about Medicare prices; it's about the private sector, the commercial sector as well. 

We're very excited about what happens in the legislation and took pride in hearing various committees address how children are affected.  You know, you know about the Biden Child Tax Credit, universal pre-K and three-and four-year-olds, families' child care cost.  Again, this is an area where we have real consensus – House and Senate have for a long time.  Nothing very new in that care section except the fact that we would like to put on the table the family and medical leave.  It's so needed and so popular in our country, and it makes such a difference in the lives of America's families.  Very important to women, but men, too, to have that opportunity. 

It is, again: better jobs, lower cost, reduces the debt and makes the wealthy and those pay their fair share.  It's not punitive; it's just fair. 

Particularly appropriate at this time is what it does for the climate crisis.  Again, I'm sure you read the bill last week, and I'm sure you're well aware of some amendments to it this week, but I just want to remind you.  The largest investment to combat the climate crisis in history: cuts pollution and reduces energy costs and creates good-paying jobs.  It's a health issue: clean air, clean water for our children.  It's a jobs issue: being competitive and preeminent in the world in terms of new green technologies – and technology is really what is helping us to advance in making these jobs better and us more competitive.  And third, it's a national security issue, as national security experts tell us the competition for resources and habitat resulting from drought and famine and drying-up of rivers and rising sea levels and encroachment of deserts and the rest – the migration that that can create creates conflict and, therefore, a national security issue.  But, as always, it's a values issue for us to pass on this planet to future generations in the best possible way.  And young people have taken the lead on this.  So it's very, very exciting. 

So, on the Build Back Better, one of the other issues we were dealing with since last week is the immigration issue, where I think we're finding our common ground, and what is in the bill has good resonance.  Others want more; so do I.  I want it all, but you don't get it all, and we would be open to it.  What we're having in the legislation, which I'm sure you're very well versed in, is the work permit and protection.  And we would like to have registry in there because we think it is the easiest, most efficient, fair way to deal with people who are here so that they can work and their families can feel safe and that they will not be exploited. 

But it doesn't – it doesn’t seem to have a big prospect in the Senate.  So, we don't want to ask Members to vote for something that wouldn't have a good prospect on the Senate that is controversial.  If the Senate, though – and I urge them to put it forth.  It would involve overruling the Chair – excuse me – the Parliamentarian, perhaps, not getting bogged down in their rules.  It's up to them.  But if they're calling – if they want to do that, we want to do that.  But it has to start with them because it is – the Parliamentarian has already put forth the message that this would not – this would be either Byrd-able or privilege, and we can't have that. 

***

So, what else?  I guess it's time to take your questions.  Okay.  Okay. 

Q:  What effect do you think having not passed these bills had on Tuesday's election results? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I don't – let me say it in a different way.  I think that getting the job done, producing results for the American people, is always very positive.  Each election is different.  As you know, I was former party chair, and I always know – let's look down into the numbers and see what it is.  But I do think if the – as the American people learn more about what we are doing in this legislation for families, for children, for women in the workforce, to save our planet and the rest, it will be very positive.  You can't deny that it would be very positive. 

Q:  Do you think Democrats were penalized for having not gotten these things done? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Again, I haven't seen all of the analysis, and I know from my own experience that, as I've said to you before, the plural of anecdote is not data.  Let's see what the data is as it comes out. 

But there's no question: the more results we can produce in a way that people understand in their lives, the better it is.  I'm heartbroken because Terry McAuliffe is a great leader in our country and was a great governor of Virginia.  And I hoped that he was a once and future governor.  But, also, we're all interested in down-ballot races as well.  So, I haven't seen much of that. 

New Jersey, nice victory.  I spoke to the Governor this morning to congratulate him.  And, again, we'll be working together to Build Back Better.

But, without saying what impact it had, it's always a positive message to have results that are understood by the public. 

Q:  Madam Speaker, could you just project this week a little bit, what you expect?  Do you expect to vote tonight?  And is it possible that you might just vote on the infrastructure bill considering everybody seems to be bought in and saying it's ready for a vote? 

Speaker Pelosi.  No. 

[Laughter]

Q:  Okay.  So, do you anticipate a vote on the Build Back Better today, and what are the big hurdles you have to overcome? 

Speaker Pelosi.  I'll let you know as soon as I wish to. 

[Laughter]

You're just worried about your own schedule.  I know.  I know that. 

[Laughter]

But the fact is, is that our Members are engaged in very thoughtful deliberation with each other.  As I said to you before, 90 percent of this bill has been agreed to – House, Senate, White House – and written.  We made some changes since last week.  People need to familiarize themselves with it.  That was the purpose of our meeting this morning.  As I said, it made me very proud.  I was inspired by just, once again, hearing the depth of knowledge and breadth of vision of our colleagues.  And we'll let you know. 

I think many of you know I was really very unhappy about not passing the BIF last week.  I really was very unhappy because we had an October 31st deadline, and I thought that that was eloquent, but not enough, I guess.  So, now we're going to – we're going to pass both bills, but in order to do so, we have to have votes for both bills.  And that's where we are. 

Q:  Madam Speaker, you just mentioned that you don't want Members to vote on something that may not have a good prospect when it goes over to the Senate.  When it comes down to paid family leave, which is now included in this bill, Senator Joe Manchin believes that it shouldn't be in this bill.

Speaker Pelosi.  Yeah. 

Q:  Do you believe that the President can convince him otherwise?  And what's your message to Senator Manchin on why it deserves to be in this bill? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I don't make it a habit of talking to Senator Manchin on the TV.  We're friends.  I respect him.  He's a good person.  He's agreed to so much that is in the bill: universal pre-K and child care, agreed to the Affordable Care Act expanded to embrace those who are left out of Medicaid, especially our seniors who depend on that for long-term care.  He's been supportive of the Child Tax Credit.  There's so many things, home health care and the rest.  Some of the stuff in green – we're not finished with that yet, but we've had some areas of agreement there. 

But the fact is, there's one difference between affordable – some of these issues, like hearing.  He's not for hearing in the bill.  Hearing has a very broad universal support in our Caucus.  In terms of family, medical leave, that has big, broad – it's no sacrifice for anybody to vote for something that might not see the light of day.  And these, we hope, will see the light of day.  We can afford it.  It's universal.  It's a compromise: four weeks.  I'd rather have it longer; I wanted six weeks because that is when little babies can finally be able to go to child care, but, nonetheless, four weeks. 

So, my message to – not Joe Manchin.  I mean, we talk enough, he knows what my message is.  But, with all the respect in the world for the point of view he represents, I disagree.  I think that this is appropriate for this legislation.  It fits very comfortably with child care, health care, home care, family and medical leave, and it has the full support of our Caucus. 

There are other issues that, for example, registry, which may or may not – people will be willing to vote for it if there's a real prospect for success in the Senate, and we'll have to see what that is.  So, we reserve the right to make distinctions among them. 

Q:  Respond to some moderates have said maybe they need more time to review this legislation.

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, you know, this has been up for – first of all, this is the bill.  Basically, we had $3.5 trillion, and then we had to cut it in half.  So, that was drastic, and that's what was posted last week.  Now we have – we asked for public comment, and we had public comment.  You act upon the comment.

This would ordinarily be a situation – more on the subject you ever want to know and reject it as soon as these bills are passed, because it will not be useful in your life for the future.  On reconciliation, you really can't do an expansive manager's amendment.  Normally, regular order, we passed a bill – we put the bill out last week.  There are changes, manager's amendment, pass it on.  In reconciliation, you have to have it embraced in the totality of another amendment, but it's really that it contains it all so that it adds up because that's what reconciliation is about. 

And so, when people are saying, ‘Well, this is a whole new bill’ – no, it isn't.  But if you imagined it as a manager's amendment, it might be easier to grasp because you're just seeing the differences, and that's what Members presented today.  So, again, no manager's amendment with reconciliation that is substantive.  Therefore, you have to cloak it or couch it in a similar – this is called an amendment.  Last week it was called an amendment as well – an amendment in the nature of a substitute. 

Is that going to serve you well in your life?

Q:  Are you concerned that the Parliamentarian’s past as an immigration prosecutor inhibits her ability to, you know, produce an impartial judgment on immigrant relief proposals? 

Speaker Pelosi.  I mean, the judgment about the Parliamentarian is one for the Senate.  I just don't agree with the original – that the policy outweighed the budgetary aspects of the bill, but she's the Parliamentarian.  You have to talk to the Senate about judgments about their people. 

Yes, sir?  Oh.  A new person.

Q:  Madam Speaker, your leadership took a whip count.  The deadline was about a half hour ago. 

Speaker Pelosi.  I'm sorry?

Q:  Your leadership took a whip count of the Members on the Build Back Better Act deadline, and that was about a half hour ago.  Are there Democrats still saying that they're not going to vote for this?  Do you have the votes to pass this by the end of the week? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, you were my priority.  I didn't – I came right from the Caucus to this meeting.  So I'm not familiar with what that is.  But, again, we have questions that Members had, whether it's about, ‘Is it really paid for?’  That was one of the questions.  Yesterday, we had a session where we listened to them, and they wanted to know, ‘Is it really paid for and how?’  We had this morning Richie Neal and Brian Deese from the White House talk about how it was, and with the idea – that was early – it ten o'clock, the Joint [Committee on Taxation] would be released.  Have you seen it?  You've seen it.  Okay.  So, that was one piece. 

The other piece was about inflation, and we had the experts' opinions – and in fact, very recent, today from Moody's – that the bill was paid, since it is paid for it would not increase inflation.  And, in fact, it would add to our economy because of child care enabling many more women to fully participate in it. 

So, I haven't seen that.  I don't know.  I was going to say, did you see the whip count?  Because I'll tell you something about Mr. Clyburn: he keeps it close to the vest.  Even as Speaker, I say that.  ‘Mr. Clyburn, how are we doing?’

Q:  A number of the Virginia Democrats were very critical of the decision not to put the infrastructure bill on the Floor before the election.  They say that contributed to Terry McAuliffe's loss.  Do you believe the House Democrats in any way are partially responsible for what happened on Tuesday? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Wasn't that the question you asked? 

Q:  Similar.

[Laughter]

Speaker Pelosi.  What I said was any sign of progress is always good for the public when they understand what it is, and I think they understand infrastructure pretty well.  So, it would have been better if we had.  I don't know because I haven't seen the data.  Perhaps you have. 

I think there were other issues at work in that election, and it remains not for me to make an observation unsubstantiated by data and science and fact.  I'm very scientific about elections; district by district, within the district, region by region, and we'll see what that is.  But it was not a good night, so let's go away from that.  But you have to ask – if that's what they said, that's your story.  I'm not going to comment on their story.

Yes, Jack? 

Q:  Thank you.  So, we have –

Speaker Pelosi.  Any more women here?  Let me see. 

Q:  So, we have this number from the Joint Committee on Tax. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Yeah?

Q:  Obviously, you have these Blue Dog moderate Democrats who are holding out, wanting a CBO score.  There are differences between those, and they have indicated to me that those two things are not quite the same.  Is that enough to bring them across the line, or what has to happen? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Those two things are not quite the same.  What do you mean?

Q:  A CBO score and a JCT score. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Yeah.  That's right.

Q:  Is that going to be enough to get them to vote later tonight or tomorrow on that?  Or is this going to –

Speaker Pelosi.  Let me say that we have been, all along – this is not sequential, like ‘when we get to this point, we'll send this.’  All along, we've been sending things to CBO.  This is not new to them.  And same thing with Joint Tax, and they've come now with our bill – come out and said how much money it will absolutely produce.  And that doesn't include, over and above, the prescription drug money, which is hundreds of billions of dollars, as well as $400 billion from the enforcement. 

And, by the way, consider it to be a low figure.  Former IRS directors have written and said it could be close to a trillion dollars, but we're counting it low.  We have been very conservative in everything, every estimate that we make, so that it truly is formidably paid for. 

The CBO also has been – the thing about the CBO is they have most of the information now.  They have the new information, but they have to correlate it, you know.  You know, they have to say, if you say, well, we had 3.5, now we have 1.7 – cut it in half, whatever the number is, cut it in half – that doesn't work.  They have to relate it, what the impact is from one area to the next.  It takes a little longer, more subjectivity, but we're, you know, this shouldn't take long to get. 

The other thing that we're getting or – we're sending stuff over to the Senate.  Most of the product that we've done is – except now we may have added in the last hour or so – and some of what we added is Senate, to the bill, like hearing.  Bernie doesn't like hearing – excuse me – Bernie loves hearing.  Manchin doesn't want hearing in the bill and all that stuff.  So, some is Senate-oriented, and then we have the family/medical leave.  We figured if they're putting things in, then we can put something in, even if Manchin doesn't like it. 

So, we are getting some Byrd and privilege.  I think mostly we're getting privilege scrub because privilege scrub is deadly to a bill.  Byrd?  Well, it's important.  You have to take it out, but a privilege violation can take you out.  So, we're, again, getting that as we go along as well.  But when we pass a bill, then they will see it in its aggregate and make some

Q:  Any concerns that any of this is, quote, ‘messaging’ because they have to take some of those things out regardless, no matter what you send over?  And you said you weren't going to send a messaging bill. 

Speaker Pelosi.  No, no.  We're not sending a messaging bill.  But we want to be sure that what we send is not Byrd-able or Byrd bath or privilege scrub.  They're the two exercises in case – bathing exercises we're engaged in, and we're getting a good response. 

There's no bad answer, you know.  It is what it is, you know.  There's certain objectivity to it.  It is what it is because whatever it is, this is the greatest, monumental, historic piece of legislation that any of us will ever be a part of.  And I say that with great proprietary ownership of the Affordable Care Act, which was magnificent and is.  But this contains that and so much strengthening of that and so much more.

So, if this isn't in or that isn't that because it's reconciliation, we can save some of that for another day when it's regular order.  But most of what is in there will survive, and it will be great, and it will help the American people.  It will lower the cost of raising children in our country.  Think of that.  The overarching part of it is about the children.  It's about their parents.  If you're talking climate, you're talking jobs and children.  If you're talking the health piece of it, you're talking jobs, and you're talking children and their families.  If you're talking Care Can't Wait, which is the third bucket, you're talking children and their families and jobs and how we respect people who do those jobs – how we have home care and how we enable women and dads, moms to participate in the workforce in a more meaningful way. 

I hope you have a very nice day.  We'll keep you informed.  Stay tuned.  Thank you.