Transcript of Pelosi Interview on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360

April 20, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Anderson Cooper on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 for an interview discussing the latest in the ongoing efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, including the latest on negotiations on the interim package.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Anderson Cooper.  Joining me now to discuss the negotiations, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Madam Speaker, thanks for being with us.   

Speaker Pelosi.  My pleasure. 

Anderson Cooper.  Obviously we want to talk about the negotiations.  I don’t know if you want me to give you an opportunity to respond to what the President said earlier today. 

Speaker Pelosi.  The President used the word ‘waste’ three times, at least, in his comment.  I think it's a waste of time to even comment on what he said when he uses negative terms to describe anyone he wants to foist blame on instead of taking responsibility. 

I spoke truth when I said he's a poor leader.  He never accepts responsibility.  He always assigns blame.  But it is fascinating how the press is just enamored of his press statements and that every interview has to start with what he said. 

Anderson Cooper.  Where do negotiations stand right now on the small business funding deal? 

Speaker Pelosi.  As we speak, we're in conversation with the final language.  We have – I believe – come to terms on the principles of the legislation, which is a good thing.  Then – but it's always in the fine print. 

Now, we're down to the fine print.  But I feel very optimistic and hopeful that we'll come to a conclusion tonight, so that it can be taken up tomorrow in the Senate and Wednesday in the House of Representatives.  But we can't go until we have the final agreement, but we're close.

Anderson Cooper.  Can you talk about what has been the hold up or what are sort of the parameters of what – you know, the discussion has boiled down to? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, we all, as part of CARES 1 bill, supported investing in our small businesses.  They are the most optimistic entrepreneurial ventures in our country, the source of job creation, wealth creation and we thought that it was a good idea to invest in them to protect jobs with the Paycheck Protection Program. 

Before you know it – boom – all of a sudden they were already out of money.  And when the Secretary came and asked me for $250 billion, a quarter of a trillion dollars in 24 hours, I said, ‘Well, we want to see the data on how that is spent, but also we want to make sure that we are – as long as we are going to the Floor, that we do so in a way that makes sure everyone can participate in the program.’

So, part of our initiative – they said, no, no.  Until about 100 hours ago they said no, and now, they've said yes.  So, we have really about $120 billion more for small businesses in there geared to our underbanked communities, women and minority owned businesses, Native Americans, rural America, veterans, small business and the rest.  So, they have the place to get these benefits as well. 

In addition to which, we asked for $100 billion for health.  That would be $75 [billion] for the hospitals, which is so needed, and $25 [billion] for testing. 

As you said, testing is one of the places where we want the language to be as good as we can agree to, that we need a national strategy for testing.  Testing is the key that opens the door to our economy.  Testing, tracing and isolation. 

Anderson Cooper.  Why do you think it is that the Administration is pushing back on the testing piece of this?  I mean, they continue – just today were saying, ‘Well, look, it's being underutilized.’  Obviously the devil is in the details, and when you actually start to look at it, that is not the case.  There's governors who are, you know, searching the world for swabs, of all things, and that's, you know, among re-agents and other things, our hold up. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Our governors, Democrats and Republicans alike, have been, really, champions, the leader of the National Governors Association, Governor Hogan, a Republican; my Governor, Gavin Newsom; Governor Cuomo; other governors have really been champions on all of this. 

Let me just say to the President, it's never too late to tell the truth.  It's never too late to do the right thing.  Stop misrepresenting about the testing.  We passed our first bill – three bills we had in March, all bipartisan, we're very proud of that.  The first one passed in the House on March 4th, testing, testing, testing.  Here we are a month and a half later and we still are falling short. 

We have to do much more.  Your scientists on the program have told you that.  So, let's do it right because unless we can test, we do not know the size of the challenge that we face.  Unless we test, we cannot contact trace.  Unless we test, we then cannot isolate for the period of time that will make the difference.  Prevention and treatment are very much a part of all this as well.  Test, trace, isolate. 

Anderson Cooper.  I talked to former HHS Secretary Sebelius the other day, who raised the possibility that maybe the President isn't pushing for such widespread testing – you know, this Harvard study saying five million tests a day, up to 20 million by July to get things back to work – Sebelius was raising the possibility – this was just a possibility in her opinion – he doesn’t want, he views, if the number of people who go up, positive or have had the virus, somehow he believes that will hurt him politically. 

Speaker Pelosi.   Well, that's no mystery.  He said that when he didn't want the people – the Americans to get off the ship because he said that would increase the numbers early on. 

Anderson Cooper.  He said he didn't want his numbers to go up. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Yeah, he's been in denial and, therefore, delaying for a long time.  And that has been deadly in terms of this pandemic.  But, again, it's not too late to tell the truth or to do the right thing.  And I hope that he will. 

This back and forth between the governors and the President is very interesting because he, on the one hand, wants to look like ‘Well, we have all we need, let the governors do it,’ but the fact is that it doesn't add up, and it has to add up.

We need to have the testing that we need.  We need to have the re-agents, the technologies to do the test.  We have to have the skilled personnel to take the tests.  And we have to have people believing that if they take the test and they are positive, that there is an answer for them, that they will not be incurring large expense and there might be someplace other than their home that they can stay so they are not bringing the pandemic into their homes. 

So there are answers that we have seen all over the world, and in our country we have great experts.  Science, science, science, science.  I always say it's such an answer to everything.  And, indeed, it is an answer to our prayers.

Anderson Cooper.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, I appreciate your time.  Thank you. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you.  My pleasure.