Transcript of Speaker Pelosi’s Remarks at Weekly Press Conference
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. It’s still morning. It's been a busy one. As we gather here, the Rules Committee is meeting. We have introduced legislation for the Continuing Resolution, which will hopefully be bought – planned to take up today on the Floor. We plan to take up on the Floor of the House. Sometime early today, it will come out of Rules Committee, go to the Floor, then we'll pass it and send it over to the Senate.
As you’re probably aware, it has a date of February 18th. And it has, in it, some anomalies that are so very essential. I want to salute Congresswoman, Madam Chair Rosa DeLauro for her just excellent work and her leadership on this, not only CR, but also the omnibus bill that we are – we've passed most of the provisions in the House of Representatives already. We look forward to negotiation with our Republican colleagues, House and Senate, in order to bring the full omnibus to the Floor as soon as possible. This Continuing Resolution gives us until middle of February, but we would hope that we would get that done before. Our men and women in uniform depend on that, our veterans depend on that. There's so much in the legislation that, that addresses our national security. And again, the sooner we can pass the full bill, the better in so many respects. So again, we're very pleased that – this went into the night, so we didn't have anything last night to give you until this morning. So that's it for the CR.
As, as we anticipate the Senate taking up the Build Back Better legislation, which is, of course very important to the American people in terms of lowering costs: lowering cost of prescription drugs, lowering their tax – taxes for the middle class, build bigger paychecks by building the infrastructure of America both with the BIF and with the BBB, as well as making the future better for our children. As we enter the holiday season, we have to address all of that and question of, of supply chain, inflation, all the rest. The legislation that we have passed addresses much of this, and we have more legislation to come. In the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, it secure $17 billion for ports and waterways to ensure that commerce runs smoothly and we can facilitate trade. In Build Back Better, we have $5 billion to identify and fix disruptions to the supply chain with loans and grants that can be used to invest directly in domestic manufacturing, preserve surge capacity and also to create strategic reserve materials. This is all very specifically written.
And then today, I'm once again convening the Chairs of the relevant committees so that we can come closer to our version of the competitive, innovation and supply chain legislation that Mr. Leader in the Senate, Mr. Schumer, and I said we would go to conference on. And that's pretty exciting a prospect. There's so much that goes into that. Perhaps you have some questions on that.
So, that's what's happening legislatively, among other things. But at the same time, we are always, always having our priority to crush the virus, whatever manifestation it may have. And as you may have seen overnight, public officials in San Francisco – and I commend them for their vigilance, recognizing the variant and their leadership in addressing it. I salute the person who was affected by it because he had traveled to South Africa, he came forward with symptoms, as you probably have seen or maybe you have written. But what I was told last night from the responsible parties in San Francisco, his symptoms – he had symptoms. They weren't severe. But since he had been to South Africa, he came forward. All of the people that he had been in contact with have tested negative. His symptoms are not – were not severe, but nonetheless, we must be vigilant. Now, I understand this morning there's another case in the United States. But all the more reason for us to salute the work of the Biden Administration for their hard work to lead us out of this pandemic, that we urge everyone to be vaccinated. The person who incurred the Omicron in South Africa was vaccinated, but he didn't have the booster. And so, if your time – six months since your last shot, we encourage the booster for everyone, even your young ages.
And so, there are those on the other side of the aisle who have this anti-vax plan. It is anti-science. It would remove all COVID-safety protections. It would end vaccination requirements that people get shots in the arms and make workplaces safe. It's a defiance of science and public health. And that's what we're up against. But the more people who are vaccinated and getting the full complement of their vaccinations, the better. This is having an impact on the health and well-being of the American people, causing disruptions that push up prices actually, hurt small businesses with customers scared. People are being – have apprehension about going into the marketplace, and preventing workers from the reentering the workforce.
So, that's some of what's on the legislative agenda, and that is our ongoing attention to the COVID virus.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court took up a very important issue. I viewed it as listening – as a very dark day. The Supreme Court heard arguments about the case of Mississippi's extreme law. The court is threatening to trample over the Constitution, destroy Roe v. Wade and turn away – take away a woman's freedom to make the most fundamental decision that she can make for herself and her family, working with her family members and her doctor and her faith.
And so, we have a situation where, for us, we believe the strongest weapon that we have here is to pass the Roe v. Wade codification. We did that already in the House. That is, it establishes statutory right for health care providers to provide and women to avail themselves to receive abortion care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions. The DOJ and providers and those harmed by restrictions made unlawful under the act could go to court to enforce those rights. It made – the law, the Women's Health Protection Act would protect access to termination of a pregnancy across the country. The codification of Roe, again, codification of Roe is the strongest weapon that we have to blunt these restrictive anti-woman state laws.
Now, we don't know what the decision will be from the Court. But, from what they have said about not respecting precedents, stare decisis, all of that, is troubling. And what they had said about – sometimes, I think they need a session in the ‘birds and the bees’ for some of the kinds of statements that they make. I say that as a mother of five – six years and one week, five children. As I say to my colleagues, ‘When you have five children in six years and one week, we can discuss this issue.’ That was great for me; that's not necessarily great for other people. And it shouldn't be up to any of us to decide what a woman and her family, her husband and her partner decides is right for them and their family and their future child-bearing possibilities. So, it's scary. It's really scary.
And I say that as a practicing Catholic. Again, this shouldn't even be a political issue. Look at Ireland. Is there a more Catholic country? Look at Ireland and how they pass legislation respecting, respecting women, respecting women.
So, in any event. Any questions? Yes, ma’am?
Q: Speaker Pelosi, there is an agreement on government funding from Leadership, but in the Senate the government can still shut down over the weekend over this funding of vaccine mandates. What is your reaction to that?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, look, we all have a responsibility to make sure that the government functions. I don't think that the Republicans in the Senate want to shut down government. I don't know that they would even have the votes to do so. But it is, yet again, a double, a double sense of irresponsibility. First of all, they shut down government, and then they shut down science.
Any other questions? Yes, ma'am?
Q: Madam Speaker, the other bill that is held up in the Senate is the defense authorization bill. At this moment, it’s held up over Marco Rubio’s idea about the Uyghurs in China. That is a bipartisan bill that Senator Rubio and Senator Murphy sent to the House. Why hasn't the House acted on that bill about Uyghur oppression, and do you think that it will?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I take second place to no one in the Congress in my criticism of China's human rights record. I’ve even spoken to President Trump when he was at G20 in Japan a few years ago. I said, ‘Will you go up to the President of China and tell them that in the House and in the Senate Democrats and Republicans have very serious concerns about what President Xi is doing to the Uyghurs?’ The next day he called me, and he said, ‘I talked to the President, and he said the Uyghurs like being in those camps.’ That's what the President said. I said, ‘Well, that's what autocrats say.’
So, we have a bill in the House. It's the McGovern bill, a stronger bill than the – it's a bill that we could have freestanding or bill in the EAGLE Act that is part of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr. Kendrick Meeks – no, Gregory Meeks' bill. Kendrick – we are all very sad about losing Carrie Meek this week, so I referenced her son. But Chairman Meeks' bill in the House. So, we will have that.
But, you see, in a defense bill, whether it's in the whatever that thing’s called that they have in the Senate, or in a DOD bill, the Senate does not have the right to have a revenue or an appropriations matter. That is the prerogative of the House of Representatives. Read the Constitution. Read the Constitution. So, when they put a trade, which it is – it’s a human rights, but it has trade implications – in on the Senate Side, then it complicates the legislation there.
We will have the strongest possible bill for the Uyghurs. Whether we are talking about the Uyghurs and the genocide that is happening in China over that – and Marco Rubio has been a good champion for human rights in China. But, we have a disagreement – I don't know why he's using this to hold up the DOD bill when he knows that there will be a strong Uyghur bill. You’d have to ask him.
But whether it was the democracy movement in Hong Kong, whether it's democracy suppression of the culture, language and religion of Tibet, whether it's just human rights throughout China, it's a horrible situation. It's gotten worse under President Xi. But – and we’ve all worked together on that in a bipartisan way, House and Senate, over the years. So, we will have the strongest possible Uyghur bill.
Q: Let me just follow up on that. One of the things that Senator Rubio has said is that the reason why the House has not voted on that Uyghyr Forced Labor Prevention Act is because John Kerry has lobbied you and others not to act on it and to slow – block it so it doesn't complicate his climate change negotiations with China. Is that true?
Speaker Pelosi. No. It is not true. And, you know, again – if you want to repeat the charges of the Republicans, that's up to you. But that is completely not true. As I said, for over 30 years I have been considered the most disliked – they use stronger language than that – person in China because of my assault on their human rights violations. And no, that's absolutely positively not true. But, you asked the question, so they won their case.
Let me just say. Yes, sir.
Q: Madam Speaker, once again, we're at a deadline for funding the government. There’s a deadline to raise the debt ceiling. What kind of a message does it send to the American people that even keeping the government open is a struggle? I mean we’re sitting here talking about whether or not, you know, the House, the Senate can get it done?
Speaker Pelosi. The message is that the obstacle to moving forward with most of what we want to do lies in the Senate – in the person of Mitch McConnell. You like to make it look like, ‘Oh, we can't get things done.’ No, we’ve been trying to pass, we've been trying to come together to do the, the, the omnibus bill, but the Republicans will not come to the table to discuss it. So, what – why do – they don't care about this, that or the other thing. I think they just want to get the job done, and we will get it done. And, and, we just have to hope that we would have some kind of – instead of repeating the Republican message – some accurate depiction of what is going on here. But, we will get it done, and we will get it done in a timely fashion.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, Jake.
Q: May I ask, are you going to, in anticipation that Republicans might not, might slow this up, the government funding, will you keep the House here this weekend? Or do you plan to let them, let them disperse after you pass this?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we anticipate that they – the, the Senate will pass the legislation. I don't think that they – they're anti-vaccine. How do they explain to the public that they're shutting down government because they don't want people to get vaccinated? Why don't you go ask them? This is so silly. This is so silly that we have people who are anti-science, anti-vaccination, saying they're going to shut down government over that. And you're asking me, what's our message?
Our message is that we have to respect governance, and we have to respect science. And that's what we are doing, and we will pass this legislation. Our Members, whether they are here or they are home, stand ready to keep government open. It doesn't matter their location. Mr. Hoyer was very clear in our Caucus this morning that we – in our Whip meeting this morning – that while we are optimistic about what it is, we'll stay close to ensure that, that – but it's not, we're not going to go for their acts of anti-vaccine. Okay, so if you think that's how we're going keep government open, forget that. Forget that.
Okay. Last question. That’s it.