Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Today

April 2, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C.  –Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today via conference call.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Good morning, everyone.  Thank you for being on this line today.  I don't know how much longer it will be before we're together, but this may be the modus operandi, how we operate between now and the next few weeks.  Hopefully sooner we'll be together, but all of you take care.  Wash your hands, hydrate, pray, and, as I always say, you can never dance too much, especially when you're home. 

I'm calling to talk to you about how we go forward.  As always, I will begin with our concern about our workers.  On Monday, in our calls, we focused on the urgent, continued need for personal protective equipment and ventilators.  We continue to beat that drum.  Across America, men and women are risking their lives to keep us safe because they do not have the basic personal protective equipment they need.  Our heroic health care workers are falling ill with the very disease they are working to treat.  Not only do they need this, but they need the ventilators to meet the – to care for the people that they are there to serve.  It's not just our health care workers; it's our first responders, our TSA officers, our grocery workers.  Other frontline workers are being put in jeopardy, and then they jeopardize their families at home when they go home.  And when these workers are left exposed, if all else, they cannot care for the rest of us.  But it's in their interests that we need this. 

I have said again and again: we are unworthy to call them heroes, we are unworthy to thank them, to pray for them if we're not willing to give them the equipment that they need.  That's why we call upon the President to use the full powers of the Defense Production Act and that we must have a strong OSHA protection for the health of our frontline workers, which we have tried to get in the first three COVID‑19 bills, and we hope that it will be possible in the next bill as people see the urgency. 

We're pushing the Administration to move more quickly and effectively to deliver the benefits of the CARES Act.  We're glad to see the Administration reverse its plan to require seniors on Social Security to file tax returns in order to receive their direct payments.  However, the President's refusal to open the special enrollment period on the ACA exchanges means millions of Americans who are uninsured or are on one of the Trump junk health insurance plans will be left exposed throughout the coronavirus crisis.  Without quality health coverage, a coronavirus hospitalization could cost patients tens of thousands of dollars.  Democrats will continue to fight for a special enrollment period and for free coronavirus treatment in bill four. 

Again, we know that this is an assault on the good health and lives of the American people.  It's also an assault on their livelihoods.  Our nation faces a historic health and economic emergency as we confront the coronavirus epidemic.  This week, we saw estimates that more than 100,000 Americans could die, and it's just a heartbreaking figure.  We have to do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen. 

But millions of Americans are losing their jobs at the same time, losing their jobs and wages.  More than 6.6 million filing for unemployment last week alone – [last] week alone.  If that does not take your breath away – I mean, the virus does too — but 6.6 million filing for unemployment. 

Every day we see the need for further action.  The coronavirus is moving swiftly, and our communities cannot afford for us to wait.  Houses Democrats have continued our work in daily conference calls with our frontline personnel and each other, sharing on‑the‑ground information on the status of the coronavirus response. 

Yesterday, we put forward our plan to invest in our infrastructure.  Even before knowing the 6.6 million filing for unemployment, when it was [3.3], half of that, we knew that we had to move to recovery as we have said in every presentation.  The first couple of – two bills were largely about addressing the emergency.  The next bill, the one signed by the President last Friday, was a bill for mitigation, mitigating for the damage to the health system and the health of the American people and to our economy. 

We still continue on emergency and mitigation, but in the next bill, our focus will also be on recovery.  So that's why, as I said, we put forward our plan to invest in our infrastructure, addressing some of the most – the critical impacts and vulnerabilities in America that have been laid further bare by the coronavirus.  The need for job‑creating action again is even more critical, again, getting back to that 6.6 unemployment staggering figure. 

So we're building on the Moving Forward infrastructure framework with investments that include – and by the way, we announced much of this on January 29th.  Some – and you will recognize it.  What we did add yesterday was the community health centers.  Under the leadership of Mr. Clyburn and Mr. Pallone, we will include an extra investment for the community health centers that are on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus. 

Clean water – that's part of our infrastructure proposal, always has been, now more than ever, necessary.  Dependable drinking water, clean water, wastewater infrastructure are critical in the effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. 

Broadband – telemedicine, teleworking, tele-schooling, and the increased use of social media and video conferencing by Americans connecting with loved ones during this epidemic have made access to high‑speed broadband more critical than ever.  We want to – Mr. Clyburn, again, has taken a big lead on this.  He has had a task force on it, working with Mr. Pallone, a major investment in broadband.  Even kids who might get a free laptop from somebody's beautiful philanthropy, they have to go someplace else to be able to connect.  We want that to be something they can do all over America, high-speed, always on broadband. 

And then mobility.  We had $25 billion dollars in the third bill, the CARES Act.  We need more.  For a strong recovery, we must have smarter, safer infrastructure that is made to last.  We can create millions of good‑paying jobs, strengthening commerce and reducing air pollution that harms public health.  These are directly related to the coronavirus challenge.  We'll be adding education and housing components related to the virus as well shortly ahead. 

House Democrats will continue to work to put workers and families first as we work to respond to the public health emergency, mitigate the damage, and include Buy America provisions as we move forward to recovery. 

I wanted to – as we talk about the challenge that we face, as I say, we are calling upon the administration to move quickly and effectively to deal with the opportunities that are available in the CARES Act.  And, again, we want to be helpful to them in any way that we can. 

At the same time, I am announcing the formation of a bipartisan committee to be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.  It's called the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis.  We'll be in touch with our committee chairs and our leadership and, of course, the Republican leadership.  This is a House Select Committee. 

The greatness of our nation is in its ability to rise to extraordinary challenges, no matter how big.  Now is the time.  We face a deadly virus and a battered economy with millions of Americans suddenly out of work.  Congress has taken an important step in meeting this crisis by passing three bills with over $2 trillion in emergency relief.  We need to ensure those dollars are spent carefully and effectively. 

Our country faced a similar challenge 80 years ago in the beginning days of World War II.  Billions of dollars were going to be spent quickly to defeat a global menace.  Then-Senator Harry Truman immediately recognized the urgency of oversight and accountability and making sure the money did what it was supposed to do.  The Senate agreed and put Senator Truman in charge of a Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program.  That's what it was called.  Years later, President Truman looked back at that time and summarized his view.  He said, ‘I knew that, after World War I, the First World War, there were 116 investigating committees after the fact.  I felt that one committee before the fact would prevent a lot of waste and maybe even save some lives. And that's the way it worked out.’

President Truman couldn't have been more right.  The Truman Committee turned into a tremendous investment for taxpayers.  Its total cost was less than $1 million, and it saved lives and nearly $15 billion by preventing waste, fraud and abuse, and profiteering and the rest. 

What made sense then makes even more sense now.  In the coming months, over $2 trillion will be spent on this rescue effort.  We have no higher priority than to make sure the money gets to those working families, struggling to pay rent and put food on the table, who need it most.  That is why the House will be creating a special bipartisan oversight panel to ensure that the $2 trillion that Congress has dedicated to this panel and any additional funds Congress provides in future legislation are spent wisely and effectively.  The panel will root out waste, fraud, and abuse.  It will protect against price gouging, profiteering, and political favoritism.  It will press to ensure that the federal response is based on the best possible science and guided by the nation's best health experts. 

The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus will be bipartisan and have an expert staff.  The committee will be empowered to examine all aspects of the federal response to coronavirus and to assure that the taxpayers' dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent to save lives, deliver relief, and benefit our economy. 

We think it is – there are many suggestions about after‑action review, what we do next and the rest, but I'm saying what President Truman said, that the committee is to be acting before the fact to prevent a lot of waste, fraud, and abuse.  And that doesn't mean just from the federal government.  We're looking on how the public sector – the private sector reacts to the funds that they receive as well. 

So, again, I want to go back to the need for another bill.  I talked about some of the issues that relate to state and local governments.  I have spoken to Democratic and Republican governors and mayors, and their own statements call for more funding for state and local government.  So important.  Hospitals and health care systems are crying out for assistance.  And I can further answer your questions about that if you wish. 

Again, the OSHA regulation that we've tried to get in one, two and three, now in four, all of them were necessary and obvious that we need to protect our workers.  Family medical leave needs to be more clear as to who and expand who can take advantage of that opportunity. 

Pensions.  This is something that the language is agreed to.  Even the President agreed, but McConnell, Leader McConnell, didn't and said we'll do it in another bill.  Well, here is another bill. 

SNAP, we did not get all that we wanted in terms of food, nutrition, et cetera, in the previous bill.  We have more needs, and so we need resources to feed the hungry. 

And, again, I come back to the free treatment.  If we're saying that testing is free, then everything about it should be free, and we don't want people having to incur costs or have doctors' visits and the rest to be tested.  Testing, testing, testing.  I'll end there because that's where we began on March 4th with the first bill that we passed.  Since March 4th, we've had two other bills.  We've moved to address the needs, and I hope that we will be able to do that with the fourth bill because whether some in Washington realize it or not, this virus is taking its toll very quickly, and we need to be in front of it rather than behind it. 

And, with that, I'm pleased to take any questions that you may have. 

Moderator.  Thank you.  We would now like to open the phone lines for any questions.  If you do have a question, please use star‑1 and record your name when prompted. 

Our first question comes from Michael McAuliff from New York Daily News.  Your line is open. 

Q: Yeah.  Hi, Madam Speaker.  Thanks for doing this call.  We all appreciate it. 

You mentioned starting the Select Committee, and we've heard reports of material going to states that don't ask for as much as they're getting.  Senator Gillibrand wrote a letter today asking for some transparency because there's hospitals in New York who are having orders diverted.  Is there anything that this committee can do or you can do to sort of bring at least transparency so that we know where these orders are going and who is making them and what is happening with all that? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, that would be one of the purposes of the committee, Michael.  And the fact is we do need transparency, and we need accountability.  And this is a story around the country.  Again, some areas are having hotter spots than others.  But these hospitals are hemorrhaging money because they don't have it.  They don't have their original, shall we say, resources for – well, it's an opportunity cost.  They can't do certain surgeries.  They can't do certain procedures that are usually the life – the life of how hospitals succeed so that it affords them the opportunity to care for those who cannot pay and the rest. 

So, the hospital piece of this is very big.  I had a conversation with the Secretary of HHS yesterday – last evening, and he talked about how they would be disbursing the money.  My guidance to him, since he asked for my advice, was: spend it.  Don't hoard it.  Spend it.  Spend it.  Get it out there.  We will get you more money as the need demands, but spend the money, and I'm hoping that they will do that. 

But in terms of funding, in terms of equipment and the like, we really – our best friend on all of this is the press, is the public opinion on this, to shine a bright light on it.  And this is not in a negative way.  This is to say let's work together to get this done in the best possible way.  There's so many demands, so many concerns, and it's very emotional because people are dying.  So, let's see how we can work together to get this done.  I don't think there would be any resistance to that. 

But, again, people showing – again, the letters, the experience – we have over, I have 230‑some Members around the country on calls every day for several hours reporting back what the situation is in their areas.  As you mentioned, Senator Gillibrand.  I spoke with Leader Schumer this morning.  The New York situation really requires more resources, financial, technological and support in every way.  And, yes, that would be one of the purposes to say, how can we work together to make sure the resources get where they're supposed to get in a priority time to save lives, and again, to keep people working? 

Thank you, Michael. 

Moderator.  Thank you.  Next, we have Ella Nilsen from Vox.  Your line is open. 

Q:  Thank you, Speaker Pelosi, for holding the call.  I have a quick two‑part question.  First, I mean, looking at these new jobs and unemployment numbers today and the staggering number, as you said, should Congress consider passing more money for expanded UI, given the number of job claims being processed?  And, secondly, is there any consideration of a rent moratorium during the coronavirus crisis?

Speaker Pelosi.  On your first question, yes.  What we're trying to work with the Administration now on is something that really is up to the states.  The states need resources in order to administer the UI.  That's part of UI is – how do they take in the filings and the rest?  And they're different.  It's not uniform around the country.  Some are much better prepared than others or just have a different timetable. 

So, one of the things that we may have to do is to get more resources to the state agencies that do this.  Again, we want this done as soon as possible, and we won't have another bill for a few weeks at least because we're not here. 

But, again, we can give some hope to people that that would be a priority.  Should we again do the $600?  I certainly think so, so that the people have the purchasing power to help them meet their needs, but also spend it, inject it into the economy, help to be a stimulus, as well as relief. 

So, again, on the second question, we did have provisions in the CARES Act about a period of time – something like four months, where there was encouraged to be mortgage forbearance — foreclosure on foreclosure and, again, preventing evictions and the rest.  That has to be much stronger.  That has to be much stronger for renters, especially for residences. 

In the bill for small businesses, there are provisions about, if you keep your employees employed, then at the end of the period, the loan that you were given to keep your employees on, your utilities, your rent, all of that would be forgiven.  That loan would be forgiven if you continue in that way.  So, from the rent – that standpoint, there's a consideration there. 

But I believe your question was more geared to residential.  And it's a very big challenge, and it's frightening to people because they're shelter in place, and then they're evicted.  What?  How do we deal with that?  But there are some provisions in the CARES Act.  We certainly must do more in COVID four.  And Maxine Waters is very much in the lead on all of this.  So, I thank her for her leadership. 

On unemployment insurance, Richie Neal and Bobby Scott are minute-to-minute on that.  Thank you.  Thank you, Ella.

Moderator.  Thank you.  Next, we have Manu Raju from CNN.  Your line is open. 

Q:  Thank you for taking my questions, Madam Speaker.  There were several of your Democrats, including chairmen, who wanted to have sort of a 9/11 Commission to investigate what happened in the onset of this crisis.  Do you support I know you say an after‑action review, but would you support some sort of commission to investigate what happened initially, and would you support something like that happening before the election? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I was a member of the House‑Senate 9/11 Commission.  I was an author of the legislation to pass the 9/11 Commission – the outside 9/11 Commission, Kean‑Hamilton, Hamilton‑Kean Commission.  So, I'm a big supporter of after‑action review. 

When I first introduced my bill, it passed in the Intelligence Committee.  By the time it got to the Floor, a couple of days later – we were in the minority at the time – the Republicans changed their mind and said it was treasonous to question how this happened.  So, it took a little while and the activism of the families affected by 9/11, and then Tim Roemer had the legislation that went forward.  So, again, I see the value of that. 

I think right now – I respect some of the – I know that at least two of our chairmen have made a suggestion to that effect.  That's something we should discuss.  It has to be bipartisan.  And, again, anything that affects this many people in our country, their health and affects our economy in such a major way, involves the allocation of so many trillions of dollars, we really do have to subject to an after‑action review, not to point fingers but to make sure that it doesn't happen again in the manner in which it happened, hopefully not at all. 

But as I said, on this Committee, this Select Committee is about the here and now.  Right now, we just have to work together to get through this.  But as we do, we don't want to make more mistakes.  I heard Dr. Fauci say that when they get the rebound, if this comes back, you know, in the fall or something, then we will have lessons learned and hopefully some therapies, a cure, maybe a vaccine later.  But I would like to know what are those lessons learned; that’s an admission that we need to learn from what has happened before. 

And without going into that, let's just go forward with what we're doing now, but hold everybody accountable for decisions that are made in the here and now as to how we go forward.  The best way to do that is with what Michael and I discussed earlier: transparency and accountability. 

Thank you, Manu. 

Moderator.  Thank you.  Next, we have Paul Kane from Washington Post.  Your line is open. 

Q: Hi, Madam Speaker.  Thanks for doing this.  Can you – following up off of this question –

Speaker Pelosi.  Who is this? Excuse me for not recognizing your voice.

Q:  Paul Kane, from The Washington Post. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Oh, I see.  It didn't come through on my phone.  Hi, Paul. 

Q:  Hi, Madam Speaker.  Following off of Manu's question, can you explain in more detail what the Clyburn Select Committee's powers would be subpoena power and jurisdiction?  Would they be looking into how this all started, or are they just supposed to be looking at the oversight of the $2 trillion plus however much gets put into the recovery and rescue?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, it would have subpoena power.  That's for sure.  There’s no use having a committee unless you have subpoena power.  And we would hope there would be cooperation because this is not kind of an investigation of the Administration.  It's about the whole – there's things that are so new and the rest, and we want to make sure that there are not exploiters out there.  One of the cabinet officers told me yesterday that there were people who were pretending that they had ventilators or masks – masks, and they didn't.  No, it was masks.  They didn't have them, but they were arbitraging it.  So, again, where there's money, there's also frequently mischief, and we want to just make sure that the funds that are expended, that are put out there, are done so with the conditions that we had in the legislation, that there be the implementation of the bill expeditiously and any way that we can be helpful with having more transparency to get that done. 

But it does, as I said – say that it will protect against – it will also press to ensure that the federal response is based on the best possible science and guided by the nation's best health experts, and it will be to ensure that the taxpayers' dollars are spent wisely and efficiently. 

So, is there need for an after‑action review?  Absolutely.  People are putting their proposals forth, but I don't want to wait for that because we're in the action right now, and we want to make sure that what we do – and people have doubts, you know.  They are concerned about getting their unemployment checks.  They're concerned about their small businesses – all of those things.  They want – first and foremost, they want the workers to get their protective equipment and the rest.  And, again, without saying why we don't have it yet, we're saying, why don't we have it now?  And that's what this is about. 

Thank you, Paul. 

Moderator.  Thank you.  Next we have Lisa Mascaro.  Your line is open. 

Lisa Mascaro, your line is open. 

Q:  Hi.  Sorry.  I was on mute.  It's Lisa.  Thanks so much for doing the call, Speaker Pelosi. 

As you move forward with Phase 4, I just was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about your relations with the White House, if you have at all had a chance to speak with the President with on this?  Are you talking with Secretary Mnuchin or who else? 

And just as a second part of the question, if I could, you mentioned at the top dance and, you know, don't forget to dance.  And I was just wondering if you could also let us know a little bit your message to Americans who are – you know, whose lives are, you know, dealing with all of this right now.  Thank you. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I'm always advocating for prayer.  I'm a big believer in prayer, especially as we come up on Holy Week, that we will not be able to come together on this most glorious feast of my Catholic faith and the Christian world.  Christmas is our joyous occasion.  Everybody loves Christmas.  Easter is our glorious holiday because it is the article of faith.  Christ has risen, and it's a very prayerful time.  We're still coming in the last days of Lent now – Palm Sunday coming up, and it will be just a whole new experience for us not to be together for all of that.

But we can be prayerful and have maybe a national day of prayer or something specifically to this.  Some of my Members are suggesting that. 

So I wouldn't suggest to dance instead of to pray, but I do think that dancing has its own therapy.  It has a certain joy to it, and not to mention occasionally some exercise, and that it's hard to be – shelter in place is a very hard thing for many families.  So, just as long as they keep their distances from each other, I hope that people will find some joy in the glory of the holiday that's coming up, whether it's Passover or it is the feast of – the glorious feast of Easter or Muhammad's birthday, which is coming up soon as well, the – if it hasn't already happened.  It's usually around the same time as the Easter and Passover.  I was in Jerusalem once when it was Easter, Passover and Muhammad's birthday.  So that was quite a glorious time. 

Okay.  So then to your question.  I spoke with Secretary Mnuchin as recently as last evening.  I was happy about the changing the requirement that our seniors had to make some other filing in order to get their check.  And so we talked about that, but we also talked about what has gone – what has happened, how we can implement it as quickly as possible.  And, of course, they know that I want to go forward. 

The President has always talked about infrastructure.  Secretary Mnuchin has been in communication with Richie Neal.  You may want to speak to him because that is where, when we were doing the U.S.‑Mexico‑Canada Trade Agreement, they said when we get through this, we can move on to infrastructure. 

That has been accelerated now because we need clean water.  We need clean – what case do we need to make for that, right?  We need the clean water that is in our bill.  We need the broadband so that we can address people's needs in telemedicine and the rest that I said earlier, and we need more community health centers.  That is in addition to our original bill.  And we need mobility.  We need people to get to work, product to market, produce to people's tables and the rest.  And so these provisions are directly related to the coronavirus crisis that we face. 

So, again, whatever communication we need to move forward, that will be happening whether I talk to the President or not.  As I said yesterday, that's a historic occasion when the President and the Speaker speak.  It's usually done on an as‑needed basis.  It's not casual.  It's historic.  It's a record.  His probably will go into whatever his records are; mine where mine are.  But it isn't, ‘Let's just chat.’  It's about, what is the purpose?  What is the urgency?  Does it require the time of the Speaker and the President, both of whom are very busy people? 

Thank you, Lisa.

Moderator.  Thank you.  And our final question comes from E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post.  Your line is open. 

Q:  Thank you, Madam Speaker.  The last thing the world needs is to see me dance; that's for sure. 

Thank you so much for this call.  I have two questions. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Wait a minute, E.J.  Do you know there's an Irish quote, I'm going to say a blessing: Sing as if no one can hear you.  Dance as if no one can see you.  Love as if you have never loved before.  And live as if heaven is on Earth.  So dance as if no one can see you. 

Q: Then I'm in.  Thank you so much. 

Speaker Pelosi.  I asked my grandchildren, my Irish — Liam, Sean and Ryan — if that was a family Irish quote, and they said, ‘No, it was on a poster at Shannon Airport.’  Anyway. 

Q: Oh, I love that.  Thank you. 

I have a two‑part question.  The first is, given the nature of the downturn, how long would you extend the provisions of UI?  And could you talk a bit more about aid to states who are really going to get hammered and also what you do with the SNAP program?  And the second question is –

Speaker Pelosi.  I thought that was three.  Okay.  All right. 

Q: I'm sorry.  A two‑part question.  The second is just how do you move Senator McConnell to be interested in doing any of this? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Okay.  In terms of the downturn, I think we just have to make a judgment as we go forward as to how long this will last.  But we do have to have – the economy.  Let's say we're very concerned about our workers.  That is what unifies us as Democrats, our support for America's working families.  That is the highest priority. 

However, it isn't just that.  It's about what it means to the economy writ large, and it is a stimulus.  It is relief, but it is also a stimulus.  So we have to recognize the value of it as we, again, we would rather people go back to work. 

You know, you are on unemployment insurance, you've been furloughed or if you've been fired.  You can't quit work and just go get UI.  One of the fights we have had with some of the, shall we say, others here is that they say, ‘Oh, people will just go on UI because they don't want to work.’

No.  If you quit your job, you don't go on UI.  If you are fired or furloughed, you get UI.  That's the way it is.  So, again, we have a little philosophical challenge, in addition to which 49 Republicans voted against the $600.  The $600 for people who are out of work.  Fortunately, that was not even the majority of the Senate and not the 60 required, but Senator McConnell voted for that.  Let me – yeah, I think he did.  He voted for that. 

But in any event, so, again, we always just have to just make a judgment about what is needed.  Hopefully not.  Hopefully we have a cure and the light at the end of the tunnel is that cure.  But if we don't, and we do not address the economic consequences of this, that light at the end of the tunnel will, as I have said, be the proverbial train coming at us. 

So, again, these are, shall we say, people‑oriented, work‑oriented solutions that have a tremendous impact on the economy.  And that seems to be what the White House is very concerned about in addition to their concern for workers.

To add to – aid to the states, very important.  We had $200 billion in our bill.  They had $150.  It came to $150.  Neither was enough.  It was a down payment.  And, again, this is Democrats and Republicans, governors and mayors.  I can't show you right here, but I have their statements and their proposals that they put forth.  They really need the assistance. 

So how do we use the tax code?  How do we use the appropriations process?  How do we use policy in order to make sure that they get the most value and the most money so that they can meet the needs of their people? 

I mean, they were busy people before the coronavirus, meeting the needs of the people in their cities and states and municipalities.  And we also have to implore the Fed to do what it can to help municipalities and states. 

They don't really need any more debt.  They'd like to see it in a way that is recognizing that these are extraordinary expenses and not the cost of doing business, operating a state under normal circumstances.  

I had hoped that we would have a ‘shall’ in the bill: ‘the Fed shall.’  And the word ‘shall’ is there, but then they followed it with ‘shall endeavor to.’  So I got the word ‘shall’ but ‘endeavor to’ help. 

So I know that Secretary Mnuchin is very much interested in this.  That's the impression I have.  Chairman Powell, when I have spoken to him, he says ‘Think big.  Interest rates are low.  Think big in what you're doing in your bills.’  

And that's what we did.  We want him to think big too.  But we haven't thought big enough because we still have these needs for state and local government, and that's probably the biggest leverage to get another bill.  Democrats and Republicans, mayors and governors, insisting that the need is there. 

And they are also a big, strong force for the Defense Production Act being enforced by the President.  And they are big supporters of the PPE, the personal protective equipment that workers need, all of the equipment that is needed to meet the needs of our working people.  So they've been a strong force and hopefully will help us make the case for another bill.  But we will pass our bill. 

Let me do SNAP before we go to that.  SNAP, we had good language in the bill, but we need more.  We wanted a fifteen percent increase in SNAP benefits because that's what we saw as the need.  We will be having that conversation among Members – I don't know if it is later today or tomorrow, but every day, we're on the phone for hours, and different Chairs of the Committees are guiding people on how we can meet the needs of our constituents to avail themselves of the benefits of the bill, but we just need to do much more for SNAP. 

Anybody in their communities knows, whether it's faith‑based organizations or food banks, whether it's the education community or where kids, some of the kids go to school, that's where they get their meals, and how do we have the resources to get their food to them and to their families.  It's a very tragic, sad situation.  And so the least we can do is to provide a fifteen percent increase in SNAP. 

In terms of Senator McConnell, we'll have our bill.  We'll be putting together our bill.  I would hope that we could do it together.  I'm always a big advocate for the four corners approach, House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans.  Let's see what we can stipulate as a state of fact in terms of the needs.  What are the resources that we're willing to allocate?  And how quickly can we get that done?  I would hope that that would be the case. 

But we will be writing our bill on the basis of what we're hearing from state and local, what we're hearing from the hospitals, what we know from what we wanted to do, as I mentioned earlier, on pensions, which the President is in agreement on, even the language of that and, as I said, the list that we had before. 

It's obvious what is necessary to be done.  To ignore it is to ignore the fact that the coronavirus crisis is raging, that we can do something about it to rein it in, but it takes resources.  It takes policy.  It takes the tax code.  It takes the willingness of the Congress of the United States working with the Executive Branch to understand that the earlier the investment, the better for the lives and the livelihood of the American people. 

So I'll be talking to – I will be placing a call to the Senator about other things.  Of course, one of the oversight issues is he and I will have to agree on who will Chair that congressional panel.  So that will be one of my first questions to him. 

And then – I think that the White House is more inclined to be supportive of the infrastructure initiative.  The President always has.  Infrastructure has never been – has rarely been a partisan discussion.  And, again, who can begrudge people clean water, internet access, community health centers and the ability to have mobility to go to work and the rest for our essential workers at this very difficult time? 

Thank you all very much. 

Don't forget: hydrate, wash your hands, pray, dance as if no one is watching. 

Thank you.  Thank you all. 

And may I just – since I'm talking to the press, may I just say this.  I was so very, very sad to learn of [Chris] Cuomo's having this virus.  And, you know, we see him in his basement.  It's a nice basement, by the way.  And I was so proud of his brother Andrew, but to have Chris, with all the attention that he was paying this, to be infected himself, it's very sad.  But, again, it helps get the message out that this can happen to anyone, no matter how strong or protected or separated from others that you think you are, we're all vulnerable. 

So my hopes and prayers go out to him.  Of course, I love his mother, Matilda.  So I'm glad the Governor said, ‘Mom, don't go visit anybody.  Stay home as the shelter-in-place requires.’

Anyway, God bless you all.  I hope that none of you falls into that category.  But, again, we don't want anyone to do so. 

Thank you all very much.