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, everyone.
I just got back from the Prayer Breakfast, so let's all be very prayerful.
As you know, this week we had the State of the Union. As required by the Constitution of the United States, the President is to submit in writing or in person, his statement of the State of the Union. What happened instead was a President using the Congress of the United States as a backdrop for a reality show, presenting a state of mind that had no contact with reality whatsoever.
It was quite appalling to hear the President say the , at least, million families in America that are faced with pre-existing medical conditions – a benefit that is afforded to them in the Affordable Care Act – that he was protecting that benefit, when, in fact, he has done everything to dismantle it. In fact, we are fighting him in the courts right now to preserve that benefit. That misrepresentation was appalling and so clearly untrue.
Next, he talked about another issue of concern to members of working families, the issue of the cost of prescription drugs. As I’ve said to you before, I’ve seen grown men cry across the country when it comes to the fact that they cannot afford the prescription drugs and meet their other obligations to their families. And we had talked about negotiating for lower prices – that’s the only way you're going to get lower prices. During the campaign, he said he would ‘negotiate like crazy.’ I think ‘like crazy’ means maybe not at all. I’ve said that to you before, because the President's statements have sent Pharma’s stocks soaring. And for him to represent that he was working on that – we had been working on it, we were hopeful to get something done. I guess Pharma must have stepped in.
And then, talked about saving Medicare and Social Security, when in fact in his budget, the 2020 budget he submitted, $2 trillion were decreased in Medicare and Medicaid combined, including to, in terms of Social Security, to reduce the disability benefit in Social Security. So these, one after the other, right to the kitchen table of America’s working families to serve up these falsehoods.
Appalling also was when he was trying to discredit the triumph of the Obama Administration on the economy, and I’ve given you all a paper on this, put out by the Joint Economic Committee under leadership of Don Beyer, our House Vice Chair on that. And it talks about all the things, job creation and the rest, but to put it succinctly, when President Obama came into office the unemployment rate was ten percent. When he left it was five percent. So, President Trump did not inherit a ‘mess,’ he inherited a momentum of job creation.
When President Obama came into office, the stock market was at 6,000. When he left it was at 18,000. Again, momentum that the Administration was able to build on. Not a ‘mess.’
During eight years of President Obama's presidency, he reduced the deficit by $1 trillion. Instead, this Administration is increasing $1 trillion. And, of course, with their tax cuts, their Tax Scam – with 83 percent of the benefits going to the top one percent – they increased the national debt by $2 trillion. And therefore, they tried to – it’s supposed to pay for itself, but instead they went to Medicare and Medicaid to try to pay for that. But, we are not doing that.
During the eight years of President – when President Bush was president, the job growth was slow. Under President Obama we gained more than 14 million private-sector jobs and during his presidency – and that is far more, prorated in terms of years, than this President has created. A momentum, a path to 14 million is not a mess, Mr. President. And then, during his presidency we rescued the auto industry and all that that brought back to the economy.
And during the – during the Administration, more than 20 million people were afforded quality, affordable health care. But, in addition to that,  million families with pre-existing conditions got a new benefit that enabled them to have access to health care, as well as other benefits: no lifetime limit, no annual limits, child up until 26 years old can stay on your benefit, being a woman no longer a pre-existing condition. So, when he talks about, ‘Oh, I’m going to make health care this or that,’ the fact is he did not inherit a ‘mess.’ He inherited momentum of growth in our economy.
And many more statistics are in this, that I hope you will read, because it was appalling to hear him try to take credit for something that he – and call what President Obama did a mess that he inherited when, in fact, it was a great advantage to the country that President Obama's policies took us to that very positive place of growth and job creation and deficit reduction.
When I talk to my Members and they have ideas, I always say, ‘What does your idea do for growth, for creation of good-paying jobs and reducing the deficit? Let's see how it meets those standards.’ What the President has done is not that.
And so, for him to make as if he did all this stuff – he still hasn't even matched President Obama’s growth in the stock market, if you call that a real measure of success. And in some respects, it’s a good indicator, but is not a good indicator of what is happening at the kitchen table of American working families, where they’re concerned that many of them have not received a raise in a very long time; that 40 percent could not find $500 for an emergency.
The President goes on in saying, ‘Oh, because of all my growth many more people are not on food stamps.’ No, you kicked them off. ‘Well, people are not taking advantage of this.’ No, you kicked them off. And that just isn't a fair thing to do in our economy.
So, it was, in my view, a manifesto of mistruths, of falsehoods, blatantly, really dangerous to the well-being of the American people if they believed what he said. So, again we do not want the chamber of the House of Representatives to be used as a backdrop for one of his reality shows with unreality in his presentation. And, by the way, a serious breach to start shouting ‘Four more years,’ on the Floor of the House, totally inappropriate.
We are very excited about how we are going forward to honor our promises to the American people, For The People. We are going to lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and we are on our path with H.R. 3, saw people holding up the three, H.R. 3 – maybe just the three benefits from it the people should know – that it will lower the cost of prescription drugs for them. It will also increase benefits in Medicare: dental, hearing and visual – vision. And the expansion of Medicare, which is the biggest expansion since its inception, that that benefit will apply, to not only Medicare; the reduction in cost will not only apply to Medicare but to all of the insurance plans for prescription drugs. We are very excited about H.R. 3.
Lower health care costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and protecting the pre-existing medical condition benefit. Secondly, bigger paychecks, building the infrastructure of America in a green, resilient way. We thought we were in a good place on both of those scores with the President because we had negotiated with the White House on H.R. 3, until the President decided to go with Pharma and instead of with the American people. We thought we were in a good path negotiating with the Administration on what the infrastructure bill would contain. Last night, he talked about rural broadband, he didn't even know what that was when we were first talking about it. He said it was just roads and stuff. No, no, roads, bridges, water, broadband and the rest.
And, so bigger paychecks by doing what – he talked about some mini plan. He sent over a $200 billion plan which he then said is a bad plan. It is. It is too small, put too much burden on the localities.
So we have a really important – and then of course, our third agenda: lower health care costs, bigger paychecks, cleaner government. We think we have a shot with him on the first two but not on the third. Cleaner government, no, that is not something that they, they, he or the Republicans have as a value.
So yesterday the Senate acted, first time in history that a senator has voted against his own president in a decision regarding impeachment. God bless him for his courage. This morning the President said, when people use faith as an excuse to do, I don’t know if he said bad things, but whatever he said, it was just so completely inappropriate, especially at a prayer breakfast.
So again, we will be expanding our, what we talked about before, about our infrastructure bill, surface transportation, water systems, broadband, rural broadband, urban desert broadband, very important to health, education, commerce and the rest for our country. And then we will go further with our initiatives on infrastructure for education – for school construction, and some housing initiatives and initiatives that relate to our, the needs of our veterans. We will be unfolding some of that in the week ahead.
So we continue, continue, continue to do our work, 275 or more bipartisan bills on Mitch McConnell’s desk. The Grim Reaper has not taken any of them up. If he had one, I wish he would do, I have my bullet [bracelet] here, I wish he would do background check legislation which would save lives.
So, it is an interesting time as we go forward. We will also be taking up in the next week, the ERA, the legislation related to the ERA. And there is a great deal of excitement across the country, you see what happened in Virginia and we are hoping to move the date to include that, that new state and that number to promote women. And especially in this year, when we observe the 100th anniversary of women having the right to vote.
I know what you are going to say Chad, what happened to the 49ers?
Q: I’ll ask that at the end.
Speaker Pelosi. But, just when you are thinking of it, think about your own team, okay?
Q: Well, we are going to get the first round draft pick.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, there’s always that. There is always that. Any questions?
Q: Madam Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, ma’am.
Q: I just, you just mentioned things like prescription drugs and infrastructure.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes.
Q: What do you think is the likelihood of being able to work with President Trump on these things, given what at least appears to be a strained relationship between you two?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we have had a strained relationship for a while and we were able to keep government open and push back on his threats to shut down government if we didn't do this or if we didn't do that, and that’s all right. And I was very proud of the work, in a bipartisan way, of our appropriators. Left to their own devices, you have heard me say, they can really work things out and we did and we pushed back on any threats of shutdown. So, we worked together on that.
We worked together on the US-Mexico-Canada agreement, he bragged about delivering it. I don’t know if he even knows what’s in it because it is so far different of whatever he sent us to begin with, but it does have, what I have said to you many times, it does have a framework of enforcement for the protection of our workers, protection of our environment and getting rid of his gift to pharma. Imagine, he had a gift to pharma in that, in that trade agreement. Well, we kicked, kicked that out. Just another example of his beholdenness to the pharmaceutical industry.
So, we, we got two major things accomplished. These are things the President said he wanted to do, reduce the cost of prescription drugs and build the infrastructure, during the campaign. Especially infrastructure. I hardly ever had a conversation with him when he wasn't talking about infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. I think he really wants that. I think he knows our country needs that. And I hope that we – we were almost there, until it was time to pay for it and then he was out the door.
Q: You don't think anything’s changed because of the impeachment?
Speaker Pelosi. That would be up to him. It hasn't changed in terms of us. As people said to me, ‘Why would you give him a victory on the trade agreement?’ I said, ‘It is not a victory for him.’ Not to do that for the benefit it provides – for our farmers, our manufacturers, our workers in our country, our hemisphere – I think would be wrong. I mean, he just wasn’t that important that we would walk away from what they were conceding to us, what they were conceding to us in that legislation. If we didn’t get what we want, we couldn't go that path, but we did. Now, did we get everything? No. The negotiation – but it’s a path to much better trade agreements and I’m pleased we did it.
Q: Thank you. Good morning. The White House Communications Director has indicated that she, that the President and maybe others in the Administration may want to have some payback for the impeachment and what the Senate did here. When you hear that sort of language – and as we speak, the U.S. Capitol Police are investigating a suspicious package, excuse me, substance in the Office of Adam Schiff –
Speaker Pelosi. Oh no. Well, I don't think that has anything to do with the White House.
Q: When you hear that rhetoric from the White House, and in these types of environments, what does that make you think?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let me just say that language – first of all, the whole State of the Union is beneath the dignity of the White House; an insult to the Congress of the United States and the American people. So, their language is nothing that surprises anyone, but they have to know that when the White House speaks, those words weigh a ton. And they are giving encouragement to people to do things – just as, remember, Charlottesville. People were coming down that hill with tiki torches saying, ‘The Jews will not replace us, the Jews will not replace us.’ And what was the President's statement? ‘There are good people on both sides.’ Really? ‘The Jews will not replace us,’ and good people on both sides?
So, there’s a mysterious view that they have about what their words, the weight their words carry, and there are people out there, who for whatever purpose – I know I’m constantly, I don’t even want to go into the target that I am because of them, but I can't worry about that. But, that was there even before them. Just working with President Obama stirred up some of those same people.
But, the – I would like to think it had nothing to do with what the White House was saying, but I do think they should rein in their comments. Because, what they are saying is there will be payback to us for upholding the Constitution of the United States; for honoring the vision of our Founders; for our democracy, ‘A republic, if we can keep it’; for something our men and women in uniform fight to protect; our freedom, our Constitution and the aspirations our children that depend on living in a democracy that is unquestioned, in terms of that. Where we have freedom of the press, to be guardians of that democracy.
You know, I am not very fond of commenting on anything they say, but if it’s threatening, it’s wrong.
Q: Madam Speaker, several Members of the various House investigative committees have indicated they would like to subpoena John Bolton. What is your position on that and when should it happen?
Speaker Pelosi. I want to first salute our Managers. I think they did a magnificent job in presenting the case for our Founders, for our Constitution, for our country. We could not have been better served. Each and every one of them did a magnificent job and Adam Schiff's leadership was a blessing to our country. I am proud of the work that the Senate did in terms of their response to all of this and their unanimous vote on the [Senate] Democrats, in support of our Constitution.
Now the Senate has spoken in terms of any punishment to the President. He is impeached forever, no matter what he says or whatever headlines he wants to carry around. You’re impeached forever. You’re never getting rid of that scar. History will always record that you were impeached for undermining the security of our country, jeopardizing the integrity of our elections and violating the Constitution of the United States.
Our purpose in all of this – in addition to holding him accountable, so he stops doing what he is doing, and no future president thinks that she or he could have liberty to take us away from ‘A republic, if you can keep it’ to a ‘[Article Two] enables me to do whatever I want.’ No. That is not what our Constitution is about. So, we will continue to do our oversight to protect and defend the Constitution, which is three co-equal branches of government, each a check and balance on the other. And we have some cases in court now – McGahn and taxes and that – and that will take time. We didn't need to have that come to fruition, because we had a strong enough case to impeach and remove, but those cases still exist. If there are others that we see as an opportunity, we will make a judgment at that time, but we have no plans right now.
Q: Can you describe what you were thinking this morning as the President said that impeachment was a terrible ordeal put through by corrupt, dishonest people, by which he meant you and other Democrats, and also his suggestion that you don't actually pray for him?
Speaker Pelosi. I don't know if the President understands about prayer or people who do pray, but we do pray for the United States of America. I pray for him, President Bush still, President Obama. It is a heavy responsibility. I pray hard for him, because he is so off the track of our Constitution, our values, our country, the air our children breathe, the water they drink and the rest. He really needs our prayers. He can say whatever he wants, but I do pray for him, and I do so sincerely and without anguish. You know, I gently – that’s the way I pray for everybody else.
I thought what he said about Senator Romney was particularly without class, when he said ‘Some people use faith as an excuse to do the wrong things.’ You remember what he said about Romney? You got that there? Whatever – well, it’s so inappropriate at a prayer breakfast. You want to go to a prayer breakfast, pray on the school vouchers, woman's right to choose, all the things that that is the right audience for, God bless you. It is a prayer breakfast. That’s something about faith. May not be something I agree with, but it’s appropriate. But to go into the stock market and raising up his approval thing and he's mischaracterizing other peoples’ motivation – he’s talking about things he knows little about: faith and prayer.
Q: You often counsel Members to be dignified in their response, to take the high ground? Did you step on that message by tearing up the speech?
Speaker Pelosi. No, I did not. I tore up a manifesto of mistruths. It is very hard for us to get you to talk about the issues we are working on: H.R. 3, infrastructure and the rest. He misrepresented all of that. It was necessary to get the attention of the American people to say, ‘This is not true, and this is how it affects you.’ And I don't need any lessons from anybody, especially the President of the United States, about dignity – dignity. Is it okay to start saying ‘four more years’ in the House of Representatives? It’s just unheard of. It is unheard of for the President to insult people there who don't share his views, as well as to misrepresent – present falsehoods. Some would use the word lie – I don’t like to use the word lie – about what he is saying.
So, no, I think it was completely, entirely appropriate. And considering some of the other exuberances within me, the courteous thing to do.
Q: Did it give you pause – I know you’d like another president – but to invite him back for the State of the Union given what you're describing – ?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, next year, we will have a new President of the United States. That is an absolute imperative for our country, for our Constitution, for the land that we love from sea to shining sea, which he degrades almost every day, but several times a week; for who we are, a people and nation of immigrants – unless you're blessed to be born a Native American – a nation of immigrants, whom he denigrates; and for the values, which he just is disloyal to the Constitution. Degrades the environment, denigrates who we are as a people and – and undervalues who we are as a great country that is a good – that is a good country where people care about each other and there is a sense of community. It's appalling the things that he says, and then you say to me, tearing up his falsehoods, ‘Isn't that the wrong message?’ No, it isn't. It's just – I have tried to be gracious with him. I'm always dignified. I thought that was a dignified act compared to my other exuberances, as I said. But we will not allow any president to use that Capitol, that Chamber of the House of Representatives, of the People's House, as a backdrop for him.
Now, all presidents have guests – constant guests – that was not a State of the Union. That was a state – his state of mind. We want a State of the Union. Where are we, where are we going and the rest. Not, ‘Let me just show you how many guests I can draw. And let me say how I can give a medal of honor’ – do it in your own office. We don’t come in your office and do Congressional business. Why are you doing that here? Quite frankly, when he started talking about someone with stage IV cancer all that – I thought – I don't know which stage John Lewis’ cancer is at – but when he started talking about someone's cancer, we thought he was going to talk about John Lewis, a hero in our country.
So, in any event I feel very liberated. I feel very liberated. I feel that I have extended every possible courtesy. I have shown every level of respect. I say to my Members all the time, there is no such thing as eternal animosity. There are eternal friendships, but you never know on what cause you may come together with someone you may perceive as your foe right now. Everybody is a possible ally in whatever comes next. ‘E pluribus unum.’ From many, one. We don't know how many we’d be or how different we’d be, but they want us always to remember that we were one. And they, our Founders, had their differences, as do we.
Again, I extended the hand of friendship to him, to welcome him as the President of the United States, to the People’s House. It was also an act of kindness, because he looked to me like he was a little sedated. He looked that way last year too, but he didn’t want to shake hands. That was that. That meant nothing to me. It had nothing to do with my tearing it up. That came much later.
I’m a speed reader. I just went right through that thing. So, I knew what was coming when I saw the compilation of falsehoods, but when I heard the first quarter or third I started to think there has to be something that clearly indicates to the American people that this is not the truth. And he has shredded the truth in his speech. He’s shredding the Constitution in his conduct. I shredded his state of his mind address.
Thank you all very much.