Pelosi Remarks at Press Availability Following NATO Parliamentary Assembly Meeting
February 19, 2019
Brussels – Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a high-level Congressional delegation, including Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Chairman of the U.S. Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Gerry Connolly, and senior members from the Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight & Reform Committees held a press availability following their participation in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, everyone. Very honored to be here with the distinguished delegation from the Congress of the United States. This is only part of the representation from our country that has been in Europe in the past several days.
We began our visit in Munich where ten percent of the Congress was present. Democrats and Republicans, Members of the House, members of the Senate, all of them here, reaffirming our commitment to the transatlantic alliance, our commitment to NATO, our respect for the European Union and our ability and desire for us all to work together to strengthen the alliance and all of the institutions connected there.
In Munich, we had the opportunity to meet with the NATO Supreme Allied Commander, with German officials, with the President of Afghanistan – because that of course is a NATO connection for all of us.
We had important meetings here in Belgium, with the Secretary General of NATO, the Prime Minister of Belgium, the President of the European Union, High Representative Mogherini, and we’ve had opportunities to share our views, our questions, and make some observations, which you’re going to hear.
I’ll just close by saying, now that we’re all gathered, when President Truman signed the NATO agreement 70 years ago, he spoke of, and I quote, ‘a long step toward permanent peace in the whole world.’ That was quite an ambitious undertaking, and 70 years later we celebrate it and we support it as we go into the future for peace in the whole world.
With that, I’m pleased to yield to – well he’ll introduce himself – we’re going to be as brisk as possible, so we can get to your questions. Mr. Engel.
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Speaker Pelosi. Thank you my colleagues for your comments but for also your leadership, the depth of experience and knowledge, legislatively and otherwise that you bring to this meeting, have made a very big difference and commanded great respect.
When I first came to my first North Atlantic – it was called North Atlantic Assemblies then, now it’s [NATO] Parliamentary Assembly, the Berlin wall was still up, it was the late eighties, the Berlin wall was still up, and that was a challenge of course.
Over the years, other issues have emerged, other challenges have emerged – the war against terrorism, issues that relate to cyber security – just so many issues of money laundering and the rest, exploitations, that would not have been possible then because technology wasn’t where it is.
But in any event, all of the more reason to have a reinforced relationship with our NATO allies to support the mobility and infrastructure that the EU is injecting into that security. Now more than ever, we need NATO as we go forward because the challenges are more complicated, than a bipolar relationship with the Soviet Union, now much more diverse and therefore the friendships that we have are much more important.
My colleagues would be happy to take any questions you might have.
Q: Speaker Pelosi, in some ways your mission seems a little like damage limitation. Working here in Brussels, we very much have the sense here that Europeans allies no longer quite understand the message that has been coming out of the United States. Yesterday, a Belgian journalist, I believe, asked you whether Belgium is an ally of the United States. How much damage has been done? How do you go about repairing that damage and sending clear messages?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I think our message has been a very clear one when ten percent of the Congress comes to your – for the Munich Security Conference as well as continuing on here with even more additional Members present.
One of the parliamentarians just asked me as I was leaving, ‘Why did you only just now pass this resolution about NATO that has such strong bipartisan support?’ I said, ‘Well, because we only just got the Majority and then we can control what goes onto, manage what goes onto the Floor.’
But, once our Republican colleagues had the opportunity to vote on this, H.R. 676 NATO Support Act, which Mr. Costa referenced, what was is three, three –
Congressman Costa. 357-22.
Speaker Pelosi. 357-22. No, I think that that sends a very clear message.
We’re also a different – we are not a parliamentary government even though we have parliamentarians. We have Article I, the legislative branch, the first branch of the government, co-equal to the other branches and we have asserted ourselves in that way.
Q: I just wanted to ask in your meetings with your European colleagues just now, was there specific advice that you gave them about what they can do to relate, to interact with the United States and its branches of government now that Democrats control the House that they weren’t able to do when there was full Republican control of Washington?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let me, I’m going to yield to my colleagues, but I don’t think that there is any difference between Democrats and Republicans on our relationship with NATO. This is not partisan in any way.
But let me refer to Gerry Connolly, who is—did he leave us? Oh, here he is. He is the Chairman of our delegation to NATO.
Congressman Connolly. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
No, I – look, Republicans as well as Democrats in this last two-year period have been working diligently in these organizations as one. When it comes to affirming our support for the Western alliance, expanding it and deepening our commitment to those values and to our collective security, I don’t think there is any doubt.
As the Speaker said, I think this resolution, you know, when do we ever get votes that overwhelming in the United States Congress? And, this is on a foreign policy issue. And I think it absolutely is sending a message.
And, in terms of the question of, is this a ‘reassurance tour,’ I think it’s a reminder tour – that the United States government isn’t just one branch. And that, as the Speaker said, Article I, the first article in the Constitution of the United States, deals with the powers of the legislative branch, not the executive branch. And those powers include war and peace. And even direction of the Armed Forces, so the supply of foreign policy –
Speaker Pelosi. And the power of the purse.
Congressman Connolly. And the power of the purse, of course.
Always important, as the Speaker said.
So, I think we are here to reaffirm and remind our colleagues at a time when maybe some doubts have been planted, to clear those doubts up.
Speaker Pelosi. If I just may conclude by saying, when you ask if we have given them any advice, we came here to listen.
And, yesterday when we started our meeting with the President of the EU, he said, ‘I’m here to listen.’ I said, ‘Well, we’re here to listen, this could be a very silent meeting.’
However, it wasn’t. It went for an hour and a half, learning from each other and that’s what this is about. It’s about one word: respect. It’s about not only how we discuss our differences, but how we do so in a manner that recognizes the importance of all parties to the discussion.
Thank you all so much.