Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference at Democratic Issues Conference Celebrating First 100 Days
April 12, 2019
Washington D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined House Democrats for a press conference to celebrate the historic achievements made in their first 100 days and outline their #ForThePeople blueprint for the next 100 days. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. I was so enjoying being inspired by our speakers I didn’t realize I was next.
In any event, I want to join all of our colleagues who are in the conference room and have saluted the leadership of our Chairman, Hakeem Jeffries, and our Vice-Chair, Katherine Clark, for bringing us together in a very substantive, unifying way this conference. Really a series of workshops where we engaged with each other, and again, For The People.
It is nice to be in the Majority because of what it means for the electorate. What it means For The People. The Majority, Majority, Majority. For The People means lower health care costs by reducing the cost of prescription drugs and saving the pre-existing condition benefit. For The People means building the infrastructure of America in a green way to make bigger paychecks. Lower health costs, bigger paychecks, lower health costs.
The Majority For The People means cleaner government and we have to talk about those issues, and how we can be more specific in terms of legislation, more effective in terms of connecting with the American people on all of those scores, because the outside mobilization is what gives us hope. Ten thousand events to save the Affordable Care Act in the last term of office when those assaults were made to the Affordable Care Act. As you know, we’re going to fight it in the courts, we’re going to fight it the Congress, we’ll fight in the court of public opinion as well.
Hallelujah! It’s a cause for celebration. Celebration for what it means in the lives of the American people.
You know, we’re all fond of using temporal markers. We all reference them, whether it’s Lincoln, ‘Four score and seven years ago.’ Whether it was our Founders, ‘Now are the times that try men’s souls.’ And the Founders also said, ‘The times have found us.’ And the times have found us, now. Not to put us in the category of the greatness of our Founders, or Lincoln with his temporal markers but the times have found us because of the urgency of the challenge that we have.
Our meeting was closed by comment of our distinguished inspiration, that is an honor for each of us to call colleague, some of us to call friend, this is John Lewis.
‘We must, we must, save our values and save our democracy,’ was how he closed our session. We see that as our responsibility. So, again, I thanked our distinguished Chair and Vice-Chair, we had a great conference. I also want to acknowledge Tom Malinowski, one of our Freshman Members from New Jersey. Ted Lieu was already acknowledged as DPCC. Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas. And Hank Johnson from Georgia. Very distinguished Member of Congress.
All of the Members are going for the bus now, but we left again, saying what we always say: our diversity is strength, our unity is our power. As our Founders directed, ‘From many, one.’ With that I yield back to the distinguished Chairman, Mr. Jeffries.
Chairman Jeffries. Thank you Madam Speaker. Any questions?
Q: Rachel Bade, Washington Post. My question is for Pelosi. Speaker Pelosi, we just ran a story saying that the White House put pressure on ICE to try to release undocumented migrants Democratic sanctuary cities including yours for political retribution during the shutdown standoff. Could you comment on that?
Speaker Pelosi. Well I don’t know anything about it, but again, it’s just another notion that is unworthy of the Presidency of the United States, that is disrespectful to the challenges that we face as a country, as a people, to address who we are, a nation of immigrants.
Q: This one is also for Speaker Pelosi. I was wondering what you thought about Mitch McConnell. He’s been saying he wants to make 2020 a referendum on socialism.
Speaker Pelosi. Oh, come on! Why don’t they make it a referendum on a positive suggestion they make on behalf of the good of the American people.
In our Congress, H.R. 1 was to reduce the role of big, dark, special interest money in politics. For them, H.R. 1 was to give 83 percent of the benefits of a tax bill to the top one percent. That’s the bill that they passed and signed of any accomplishment in the last Congress. To think they might talk about something positive For The People. Let’s make it a referendum For The People, in terms of lower health care costs, bigger paychecks, cleaner government.
Any colleagues want to weigh in there? Tom Malinowski of New Jersey?
Congressman Malinowski. I’d just say as someone who came to America after my family escaped a socialist dictatorship, if they want to come after me on that. If a President who is in love with a Communist dictator, Kim Jong-Un, wants to come after me on that, bring it on! We’ll run on health care and infrastructure and we’ll win.
Q: My question is also for Speaker Pelosi, Congresswoman Omar has continued to defend her comment on 9/11 – could you just weigh in on her initial comment and also her –
Speaker Pelosi. I haven’t had the opportunity to speak with her to see the nature of her comment. As is my custom with my colleagues, I call them in before I call them out, so I look forward to hearing from her. She was in transit. We tried to reach her – she was in transit. I’ll have some comment when I do speak to her.
Q: Back to immigration real quick, the President continues to talk about the situation at the border. Can you just outline what is the Democratic response at this point to –
Speaker Pelosi. To the question of response, we have made it very clear we – the President had a shutdown of government because he wanted billions and billions of dollars for his wall, we sent him a bill, he didn’t want to sign it, he shut down government. Weeks went by. In a bipartisan way, House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans on the Appropriations Committee wrote legislation that said, ‘Here, Mr. President, is what we are giving you for the border. We all agree we must secure our border.’
There is money there for increased judges to adjudicate the cases more quickly, there is funding there for humanitarian assistance for the people coming in, there is money for repairs and for physical necessities that may be there and there is funding to send to countries of the Northern Triangle to try to alleviate the problem before it reaches our shores.
That is what the Democrats and the Republicans in the House and in the Senate sent to the President, which he signed. Of course, then he tried to usurp the Constitution of the United States – that twelve Republicans in the Senate voted, in a bipartisan way to oppose the President on that.
Again, we all know we need to secure the border. We don’t need a lecture or tantrums from the President on that score. But we do want to work together for comprehensive immigration reform and I am pleased to see it reported that Leader Mitch McConnell is ready to talk about that because we have a symptom at the border. We have a – it has created a humanitarian crisis, which we’ve given the President the funds to address in a way that is consistent of our values.
As a mother of five and a grandmother of nine, I don’t think it is a statement of American values to take children out of the arms of their parents saying it might be two years before you reunite them. You don’t know what you’re talking about or you don’t know what bonding between parent and child – between father and child or mother and child is.
What the President is doing is, in my view, is terribly wrong. What we do need to do is sit down and have comprehensive immigration reform. I am glad that the Majority Leader in the Senate Mitch McConnell has said – or at least it has been reported that he has said – that he is willing to do that.
And I do think that the President is beginning to realize that has to happen and he cannot let any of the people in the White House who do not understand the words of Ronald Reagan, he talked about what immigration means to America – rejuvenation. Do you want me to read it again to you? I just refer to Ronald Reagan’s last speech as President of the United States and values they bring and once they close that door, America will fail to continue to be preeminent in the world.
Q: You guys talk about all these accomplishments and show us these list but only two bills on this last have been enacted into law and only twelve bills since the beginning of this Congress has been signed by the President. You’ve got 170 bills that are collecting dust in the Senate that you’ve sent over there. How frustrated are you?
Speaker Pelosi. They’re not collecting dust. As a matter of weeks – you have to remember government was closed for a few weeks, we had to address that challenge. I invite my colleagues to weigh in on this.
Let me just say this: the reason we are optimistic and hopeful is not that we can pass bills in the House. We intend to do that. To state our purpose, to honor our commitment to the American people, to make advances on their behalf but I am a big believer in public sentiment.
Abraham Lincoln, another Republican president, ‘Public sentiment is everything. With it, you accomplish almost anything. Without it, almost nothing.’
Public sentiment will weigh in and the Senate will see that it is important to pass equal pay legislation – equal pay for equal work – that gun safety is important to the American people, that many of the pieces of legislation that we have passed or are about to pass are 70-80 percent, bipartisanly and nonpartisanly supported by the American people. And they will either act upon the legislation or be accountable to the public as to why they do not.
I’m very proud of this list of accomplishments and I do intend – we are not going as slow as the slowest ship. If you are suggesting that we should sit back and say, ‘The Senate will never do anything no matter what the public thinks, so why should we do anything?’ You have mistaken us for something else. Please don’t do that.
Q: I just wanted to ask though, like what you thought the prospects for bipartisanship over the next 100 days look like?
Speaker Pelosi. I think it will be – I think that it’s good.
I think that Mitch McConnell – our main thing that we have to do, our main must-pass legislation is the appropriations bills and we will pass them in a bipartisan way and as Steny – Leader Hoyer – said yesterday – in a way that is according to time – on time. And that’s an accomplishment. We will do that in a bipartisan way.
The Senator has now said that he wanted to talk about immigration, if what we read in the press is accurate in that regard. I would hope. Hopefully it has some basis in fact. We will find out.
I do think that there’s plenty of room for bipartisanship. As I have said before and I’ll say again: the President has said, over and over again, he wants to do an infrastructure bill – so do we, and we’re going to – we’re making progress as to what the parameters of that would be, timewise and financially.
The President has said that he wants to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Now, we’re talking about two of our top priorities: lower the cost of prescription drugs, build the infrastructure of America to build paychecks – bigger paychecks for our country. So, there – we have prioritized in a way that is bipartisan, that is bipartisan.
I’m not sure they’re interested in cleaner government and lowering the role of dark, special interest money in politics, but we’ll leave that up to the American people.
And, by the way, as we celebrate our Majority, Majority, Majority For The People: lower drug prices, bigger paychecks, cleaner government – it’s important to note, and our distinguished Chair Cheri Bustos just gave us a plan for how we go forward – but understand this: we won 43 seats, took out 43 – politically speaking – Republicans in a highly gerrymandered, deeply voter-suppressed arena.
American people are paying attention. American people spoke at the polls. The American people will weigh in on these issues.
Does anybody want to say anything about any of that?
Chairman Jeffries. Well, I’ll just add, as the Speaker indicated, we were able to seize the Majority because of the fact that public sentiment was with us on the issues that we communicated to the American people that we would fight for, anchored in: lower health care costs, bigger paychecks focused on an infrastructure plan and cleaning up government and the corruption that exists in Washington D.C.
Public sentiment is everything. The public is with us. House Democrats have promised to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. We have promised to lower health care costs, focused on driving down the high cost of life saving prescription drugs. House Democrats have promised a real infrastructure plan to fix our crumbling bridges, roads, tunnels, airports, mass transportation system, and to do it in a bipartisan way. That’s what we intend to deliver.
Speaker Pelosi. And, by the way, on the subject of health care and pre-existing conditions, no one was more articulate – all the things we’ve talked about, about message and mobilization, etc. none of it important without the quality of the candidates that we had that were out there – and Lauren Underwood’s personal story was such a compelling one, it not only won her election, but it had a ripple effect across the country. Thank you for your leadership and courage Lauren – Congresswoman Underwood.
Congresswoman Underwood. Thank you.
Chairman Cicilline. Yeah, I just want to add one quiet thing to this. This agenda that the House Democrats developed came from the American people. We didn’t just sit in a room and pick these priorities. These are the priorities of the American people, and that’s why I think the Speaker’s optimism is so well placed.
It cannot be the case that the Senate of the United States and the Republicans in the Senate will prevent us moving forward on what are the emergent priorities of the American people.
So, we are counting on them to respond to the will of the American people. And, if not, frankly, to face the consequences in 2020. But, House Democrats are going to continue to fight for the people, pass legislation that will improve their lives and hold them accountable if they don’t join our effort.
Speaker Pelosi. And I would add that we would rather have success in terms of them passing the bill and getting it signed into law than having a political issue at the polls.
Q: Madam Speaker, you’ve expressed confidence about being able to pass an appropriations bill since those are the one must-pass thing –
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah
Q: The President tweeted last night that ‘House Democrats want to pass a $2 trillion spending increase, but can’t even pass their own plan. We can’t afford it anyway and it’s not happening.’ What is your response?
Speaker Pelosi. I don’t respond to the President’s tweets. I don’t – I don’t know. To me, it’s just unpresidential. We have serious work to do.
What is his purpose in tweeting? I don’t know. But, our purpose is working together to get the job done for the American people and, really, not to inflame but to unify. I think if there’s any message to come out of this conference, it is one of respect.
Respect for the decency of the American people. Respect for meeting their needs. And to do so in a way that is not dividing, but is unifying.
Thank you all very much.