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.
As we gather here, on the Floor of the House we are debating two resolutions, the Ro Khanna resolution about there not being any war [with Iran] without congressional approval and the Barbara Lee resolution, which she has been working on for a very long time, which addresses the authorization of the use of force in the region.
Here we are with the Moving Forward framework, which we rolled out yesterday, our infrastructure initiative.
In the election of 2018 House Democrats' platform was For The People.
For The People, we would lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and protecting the pre-existing condition benefit.
For The People, we would increase paychecks, lower health care costs, bigger paychecks, by building the infrastructure of America in a green way.
And For The People, we would have cleaner government. We passed H.R. 1, which we continue to call for, which lowers the role of big dark money in politics and strives to end the voter suppression that the Republicans find is their most effective political action, is to suppress the vote, and other issues that relate to – that's legislation put forth by John Sarbanes, but part of it is advanced by John Lewis, the voter suppression part of it.
So, here we are with Moving Forward, and this is a $760 billion initiative over five years. When we spoke to the President about infrastructure – and I believe that he cares and wants to do something about infrastructure – he talked about two trillion dollars over ten years. This 760 over five years is a trillion and a half over ten, and that still affords us that this is about what we talked about, about fixing broken roads, bridges, transit systems, railway, airports, ports, water systems, brownfields and broadband. So that's about this piece of it.
We still will be addressing the issue of school construction and housing construction. School construction, so important of itself. We tell children that education is important, they should study, it's important to their own self‑fulfillment and to that of our country, and yet we send some of them to schools that are so substandard that it sends a different message to children. So, the school construction piece, which respects the value of education and meets the needs of our children, will be part of what comes next for us in infrastructure, as well as housing.
If we're going to address infrastructure, addressing housing is essential, because we want proximity of people to the workplace so that we are keeping people off the road. And a lot of it is about clean air, clean water. It's a public health issue, lowering the pollution in the air and increasing the quality of life, improving commerce, diminishing the time of products getting to market and the rest.
So we're very excited about this, and we believe that the fundamentals that are in it are fundamentals that we've always advanced. Now, we have more broadband, especially rural broadband, but also urban broadband. That's very important for education, for jobs, for health care, for quality of life in our country. And I think it's pretty exciting.
And, again, infrastructure has never been partisan. We've always been able to work in a bipartisan way on that. And we would hope, as a priority for us, that it would be a priority that we establish that is unifying and not dividing in our country.
Same with H.R. 3. That was lower health care costs, H.R. 3, lower the cost of prescription drugs. In the campaign, the President said that that was a priority. We trust that that is still true. He did – And we think central to that is negotiation and giving the Secretary the power to negotiate for lower drug prices. And the President in the campaign said he would ‘negotiate like crazy.’ I don't know what ‘like crazy’ means to him, but nonetheless, it is – negotiation is very, very required. So it hopefully has not fallen prey to Pharma, because they're very much opposed to the negotiations.
This week, actually later today, sadly, in stark contrast to our For the People agenda, for having health care for all Americans that is quality, affordable, and accessible, today, later this morning, the Administration will unveil its latest effort to take away America's health care, their new Medicaid block grant scheme.
One in five people in America, my understanding, is on Medicaid. Yet, again, having failed to repeal the law, they're still in court trying to repeal the law, while they're saying, ‘Oh, we're for pre-existing condition benefit.’ No, they're in court trying to repeal that. Having failed to repeal it so far, the Administration has decided to ignore the law, with potentially devastating consequences for families and seniors who depend, as a lifeline, on Medicaid. The Trump Administration wants to cap and cut Medicaid.
It could have ruinous effects on rural hospitals, on people with opioid addiction, because that's where the resources come from to address that, seniors who depend on it for long‑term care. It is actually a middle‑income benefit for seniors on long‑term care.
So here we are, they are taking steps, because they never really believed in Medicare and Medicaid, and now they are trying to undo it, and that is their mission. And that is a fight that the American people must engage in, because it affects them and their families very, very directly.
A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll today shows that Americans disapprove of President Trump's handling of the Affordable Care Act by 56 to 35, because he wants to repeal it. And how he's handling the issue of lowering prescription drug prices, they disapprove of his approach 54 to 30. He can address both of those things.
The American people recognize that he is attacking protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and that's really vital. That's 125-130 million families. And again, we hope he hasn't caved to Big Pharma on this.
So again, we are very proud of our legislative agenda, which I'm happy to go through again, if you wish. But, I also am very proud of our Managers. We believe that they have been magnificent custodians of the Constitution by dint of their content, their presentation, their historic perspective and their tone. They have made us all proud, and I have told our colleagues, they give us a magnificent example to follow.
And they do so in the face of the President's team – is there to dismantle the Constitution of the United States. And some of them are even lawyers. Imagine that you would say, ever, of any President, no matter who he or she is or whatever party, if the President thinks that his or her Presidency – in this case, his Presidency – is good for the country, then any action is justified, including – including – encouraging a foreign government to have an impact on our elections, which is exactly what our Founders were opposed to and they feared.
The day we were bringing the articles to the Floor, I quoted ‘The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere’: ‘On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy‑Five: Hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and year.’
And those of you who remember Longfellow's poem know that in there he says: The English are coming, the English are coming, we'll let you know, ‘one if by land, two if by sea.’ In this case, the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming, and the President has led a clear path for them to interfere once again in our elections, as they are currently doing.
I said then, as Longfellow said then: ‘The fate of the Nation was riding that night.’ The fate of our Nation, our democracy, our Constitution, our system of checks and balances, the exquisite beauty of our Constitution, the genius of a system of checks and balances.
The President seems to be emulating a French king who said, ‘L'etat, c'est moi.’ ‘The state, it's me.’ No. Article II does not say you can do whatever you want. The Constitution does not say that. But these, but these, I don't know how they can retain their lawyer status in the comments that they are making.
I just pray, I just pray that the Senators will have the courage and the ability to handle the truth instead of blocking the truth from themselves in the decision, and from the American people.
With that, I'd be happy to take any questions.
Q: Last year you said that you wouldn't support a U.K. trade deal if Brexit was part of the Good Friday Accord.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes.
Q: Now that Brexit, the details are there and it's moving forward, are you prepared to support a trade deal with the U.K.?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we don't know how it will affect it. I'm very – I stay close to the proceedings and with the Irish Government who see how that border is affected.
I don't think we'll know for a while. There's, what, an eleven‑month period, and I think we have to see what really does work. I hope and pray that it's okay and that we don't have to engage in this, but I don't think that we can make a judgment on the strength of the EU saying they have accepted Brexit.
I do think that the Irish are optimistic, and we'll see, and I think that perhaps Prime Minister Boris Johnson knows how important this is. But we have to – the proof will be in the pudding.
Q: Madam Speaker, do you want John Bolton to testify in the House if the Senate fails to call him as a witness?
Speaker Pelosi. I think we're just taking this – this is in the Senate now, and I still hope that, as I said, I hope and I pray that the Senators can handle the truth and will listen to not only John Bolton, but other witnesses as well. We'll see what happens after that.
Q: Speaker Pelosi, would you also possibly consider, if the Senate decides not to call witnesses, bringing other civil officers that have been appointed by the President up for impeachment?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we're not getting to that. We are in the Senate. We did our job. We had a strong case of impeachment of the President of the United States. No matter what the Senators have the courage or not to do, he will be impeached forever.
We believe our argument was strong enough for removal, but we do believe that there's more truth for the American people to know. It is important for them to know. Not that we think we need it to bolster our case, but because we need it to prove to the American people that never should this happen again; that any President, of any party, of any gender he or she might be – that it is wrong, it is unconstitutional, that he has undermined our national security in withholding funds from a country that was fighting our adversary, Russia.
The President doesn't see Russia as an adversary. As I've said, I don't know what the Russians have on the President politically, personally or financially, but he doesn't see Russia as an adversary. But on the other hand, we're building resources in Europe against Russia.
So, we think the case is a very strong one. He undermined our national security, he jeopardized the integrity of our elections and he violated the Constitution for his own political and personal benefit.
Just the average person in our country must think that it's more important for him or for her to decide who our President is. It's not up to Vladimir Putin.
Q: Speaker Pelosi, as far as the U.S. President being presumably acquitted, what is the follow‑up as far as Democrats are concerned? More subpoenas, more –
Speaker Pelosi. I just had three questions to that effect, and I said we're taking – we're still hopeful.
Q: But are you looking to do more subpoenas –
Speaker Pelosi. No, let me say, one, two – no, not you, you were Brexit – two, three. We are right now prayerful and hopeful that the Senate will have the courage to hear the truth about the President's action, and then we'll see what we do next.
Q: I'll give it a different try. When this is over, do you think that President Trump will be chastened and understand that he's got a Congress watching him? Or will he be emboldened because the Senate will have acquitted him?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, he will not be acquitted. You cannot be acquitted if you don't have a trial, and you don't have a trial if you don't have witnesses and documentation and that.
I would hope that the Senators, if it comes to a tie, or if there's a question of hearing testimony or receiving documents, would leave it up to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court – Republican‑appointed, in a Republican majority court. I would think that they would have confidence in the Chief Justice of the United States. That's really his title. And that's interesting to me; that they're afraid of breaking a tie with a Chief Justice of the United States.
Does the President know right from wrong? I don't think so. That's all I can say to you.
Staff. Last question.
Q: The President's defense team on the Floor yesterday really made the case that if you open up the door for witnesses, that they would intend to drag this out for months and months. They said, ‘Maybe we'll do impeachment every month except for the summertime,’ something like that, I think, is what Jay Sekulow said.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I disagree with the first part of your sentence, that they made the case. I don't think they made the case at all. I think they tried to avoid the truth in what they said.
And so the point is, is that at first they say, ‘Well, why didn't we wait for the courts to go through this and that?’ Well, because justice delayed is justice denied, and we would not be able to get our work done. But they could subpoena those same people and save a great deal of time.
So, I know that may have been a figure of speech, but I don't think they made the case. I think they disgraced themselves terribly in terms of their violation of what our Constitution is about and what a President's behavior should be.
Q: But you seem ready to move on to these other agenda items, whether it's infrastructure or protecting health care.
Speaker Pelosi. We've been working on our agenda for the – results for the American people the whole time. We have sent 400 bills, 275 of them bipartisan, to Mitch McConnell's desk. We would hope that – they say, ‘Oh, they're preventing us from doing our work because we have to do impeachment.’ No, for one solid year you have done nothing.
Then they said, ‘Well, if, you don't send impeachment soon, we're going to pass the Mexico trade agreement.’ Bravo, let's do it. And by the way, you barely recognize it. I don't know if the President would recognize what he sent and what we sent him back, because I'm very proud of that.
But, no, we have been working on our agenda. And some of the priorities are ending gun violence by having our H.R. 8 legislation to have commonsense background check legislation, raising the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, climate action now, LGBTQ – equality protection for the LGBTQ community, issues that relate to our Dreamers.
So, no, we have a long list of accomplishments. But getting back to here, For The People, H.R. 3, lower the cost of prescription drugs and take the savings, which are taken from Pharma, from the profits of Pharma, and expand in a way that is more than ever since the existence, the establishment, of Medicare. Use that money for expanding dental, visual and hearing benefits. We want the Senate to take that up. And pretty soon we'll be introducing this legislation, we would hope in a bipartisan way, so that it could be job‑creating, commerce‑promoting, quality‑of‑life improving and to do so in a way that creates jobs all over America.
So, we have been hard at work on our agenda all along. I would hope that they – they have done nothing. I mean they have done nothing. They have passed this, that or the other thing a little bit. And then finally Mexico, because they said I hadn't sent them the impeachment articles when they wanted them. But they were afraid of what would emerge, and now what has emerged is more information that is incriminating to this President.
We have a situation. We have a situation where, again, the fate of our nation is riding on how this is resolved. It isn't about just one person. It's about the precedent that it sets for the future. It's not about whether you like Donald Trump or not. It's not about a person – it's not personal. It's not political. It's not partisan. It's about patriotism.
It's about undermining the system of checks and balances, and that is what they are doing on the Senate Floor in these days. I guess they will go in about one o'clock today. How shameful of them.
And then again, when you think of the sacrifice of our Founders, and Thomas Paine said, ‘The times have found us,’ in the darkest days of revolution, to declare our independence, to fight a war, to win it, to write our founding documents. For Benjamin Franklin to say, when asked about what government we have, we have ‘a Republic, if we can keep it.’
I often wondered why he said that as if it could ever be in doubt, except this President has placed it in doubt by saying, ‘Article II says I can do whatever I want.’
And it is really quite shameful, that the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform who vote to defend that freedom contained in the document and the aspirations of our children into the future, to always know that they live in a democracy and not in a monarchy. And they asked, ‘a monarchy or a Republic?’ ‘A Republic, if we can keep it.’
‘I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands,’ not for, ‘Article II says I can do whatever I want,’ monarchy, for which it stands.
Thank you all very much.
Hey, go Niners. He's not here. Where's Chad? Getting ready for the game or something?
He left? I mean, all he keeps talking about is the Bengals are going to make a comeback. They're going to be there pretty soon. That's what he was telling me yesterday.
Anyway, thank you all very much. Bye‑bye.