Transcript of Pelosi Interview on NPR’s All Things Considered with Michel Martin
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Michel Martin on NPR’s All Things Considered to discuss the Congressional response to the killing of George Floyd and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Michel Martin. Given the gravity of the moment we’ve asked one of the leaders of the co-equal branch of government, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and she's with us now.
Madam Speaker, thank you for joining us. I'm sorry for the circumstances, but thank you for coming.
Speaker Pelosi. Most unfortunate circumstances, most unfortunate.
Just when we thought we had seen it all with this President, last night he crossed another threshold of undermining our democracy. That the federal forces would be used to disperse a crowd using billy clubs and tear gas, that takes us to the status of banana republic, to make way for the President to come out. And to threaten them all while deploying the U.S. military.
Michel Martin. I was going to ask you about that because there – the fact is, there has been violence in cities across the country. Do you feel that the President's threats to call out the military are warranted and, if not, is there anything Congress can or should do?
Speaker Pelosi. I don't think the President calling out the military are warranted. I think that there, by and large, have been peaceful demonstrations in large numbers across the country. There has been some violence and there is no place for that in any of our expressions of concern that the American people want to make. And violence must be addressed. But there’s no reason for the U.S. military to be called out for this.
Michel Martin. Let's talk about the role of Congress right now. Does Congress have any role in this? If you find this unacceptable and if other Members disagree that it's unacceptable, is there any role in addressing?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, there has to be, and I'm very proud of the work that our Congressional Black Caucus has done over time. This is a terrible thing that has happened, but it's not the first time it’s happened. It's been a pattern.
So, they're making determinations about what legislation we’ll use to go forward, whether that's a comprehensive bill or it’s a series of bills, but that will all be taking place in the very near future.
Michel Martin. Can you identify, at the current moment though, a priority? Something that would – for example, changing immunity laws for police or perhaps limited funding or condition funding for federal departments in an effort to make some reforms. Can you identify any concrete change that you are willing to embrace and push for at the moment?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, the immunity laws are very important, and that would be a priority along with withholding funding, yes. But there are things that are very common and people understand very clearly, like racial profiling, that have to stop. The use of force in a manner in which was used – whatever form you want – there are different description of it that our colleagues are reviewing as to what will be the most effective and universal.
But let me just say that is a 400-year-old challenge, more than that, 401-year-old challenge.
Michel Martin. And, before we let you go, I can't help but remember that your brother, Thomas, your beloved brother whom you lost not long ago, was Mayor of Baltimore during the 1968 riots. Is something that you feel you learned from his experience that is guiding your feelings and thoughts now?
Speaker Pelosi. In terms of my brother Tommy and what happened, at that time my brother was a big civil rights leader, and one things that just discouraged from continuing in politics was the disrespect that was shown by many in the community there to the Arch-cardinal who was a civil rights advocate.
And so to see, at that time, something that was knew in our lives, that we would see at church, would disrespect the Archbishop. It was really an awakening as to how deep some of this racism goes.
Michel Martin. That’s the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Madam Speaker, thank you so much for speaking with us today.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Michel.