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.
The dome of this Capitol has always been a beacon of democracy and hope to America and to the world. Under this dome, our nation has abolished slavery, secured equal protections for people across our country, ended the Civil War, enfranchised women, established Medicare and Medicaid and met the needs of the American people in so many ways. Under the dome of the Capitol, children learn about our country's history and what we are doing to advance their future, legislators pass laws, press engage in reporting on our democracy and staff and workers enable all of this to happen. This dome has been a symbol of determination in our country.
Remember its origins. Let us recall that the dome of the Capitol was built during the Civil War, and people told President Lincoln that the steel, the equipment to build it and the rest was needed for the Civil War. And President Lincoln said, ‘No.’ President Lincoln knew that our country needed a symbol of strength and unity, a reminder of the shared ideals and common purpose that bind our nation, a beacon of hope, again, to see through the darkness.
January 6th was a day of darkness for our country. A day, as you know, that was called for in the Constitution of the United States, for us to validate the presidential election, to certify the results of the Electoral College. That day, one of the darkest – I say again, I will keep saying – days in our history, our temple of democracy was attacked by insurrectionists. You know all of this. The gleeful desecration of the Capitol resulted in multiple deaths, physical harm to over 140 members of law enforcement and terror and trauma among staff, workers and members. That trauma is something I can never forget or forgive.
The insurrection was called for to impede our Constitutional mandate, but the Congress returned to the Capitol, under the dome, to accomplish our Constitutional mandate. Thanks to the courage of the Capitol Police members and support workers, we showed our country, and indeed the world, that we would not be diverted from our duty, and that we would respect the response – our responsibilities under the Constitution. Not just the Capitol Police, but other law enforcement, as well. On January 6th, and the days, weeks and months after, the Capitol dome has been and is once again a beacon of hope, as President Lincoln intended.
Today, nearly six months later – it will be six months in a little while – many questions regarding the circumstances of this assault on our democracy, and the response to it, remain. It is imperative that we seek the truth as to what happened. To do that, we believe that a bipartisan Commission would be the best way to proceed in the spirit of patriotism and bipartisanship, and to establish an independent 9/11-type Commission.
Unfortunately, despite the expressed support of seven GOP Senators, Mitch McConnell asked Republican Senators to do him a ‘personal favor’ and vote against the Commission. Cowardly, the Republican Senators did him a personal favor, rather than honoring their patriotic duty to protect and defend.
For the past four weeks, there have been attempts from outside groups, from leaders across the country, to persuade the Senate to pass the Commission. Tomorrow will be four weeks since the Commission failed in the Senate. I asked leading up to today, ‘Is there a chance for it to pass? We gave it so much time.’ ‘Not soon. Not likely. Maybe someday.’
In the meantime – I'm hopeful that that could still happen at some point – however, this morning, with great solemnity and sadness, I'm announcing that the House will be establishing a Select Committee on the January 6th Insurrection. Again, January 6th was one of the darkest days in our nation's history. I've said it now three times. It is imperative that we establish the truth of that day and ensure that an attack of that kind cannot happen, and that we root out the causes of it all. The Select Committee will investigate and report on the facts and the causes of the attack, and it will make – report recommendations for the prevention of any future attack.
Just to remind all of you, 9/11 – people keep referencing the 9/11 Commission. In – 9/11 [Commission] was signed into law by the President of United States on November 27th, 2002. Fourteen and a half months after 9/11. In the meantime, Congress had a bipartisan Committee investigate 9/11. I served as Co-Chair of that, as the Ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, so I know it full well, and it provided great information that was useful to the 9/11 Commission once it came into being. So, we see this as complementary, not instead of, and hopeful that there could be a Commission at some point.
As I said on the House Floor when we passed the legislation on the Commission, ‘The Capitol of the United States has always been a glorious beacon of democracy for the American people and the world.’ I say it again. This Select Committee is about our democracy and about ensuring that the Capitol dome remains a symbol of freedom, about preserving America's role with an emblem of resilience, determination and hope. That is our purpose. That is what the Select Committee will be about, and that is about seeking and finding the truth.
Any questions? Yes, ma'am.
Q: I just, if you could – two things, Madam Speaker. If you could elaborate – I mean, why now? Because you just argued, it took over a year to get a 9/11 Commission established. Why not try for another vote? Why do you think this is the moment to do a Select Committee? And secondly, explain, like, who will lead this and how it will be comprised?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I will make those announcements later. Right now, I'm announcing that there will be a Select Committee, as there was at the time of 9/11 – a Select – a Committee of the Congress of the United States to investigate 9/11. I don't think that we can abandon that responsibility. And I see no reason to be hopeful, if those Republican Senators are saying they’re doing a personal favor from Moscow Mitch – for Mitch McConnell, rather than doing their patriotic duty. I and my Members have thought that we've had great deal of patience. It's almost six months. Four weeks since they hopefully, hopefully took the vote in the Senate, thinking that they could get the ten, at least ten Republican votes.
And again, we yielded on every point. We yielded on makeup of the Committee. We yielded on the timing of the Committee. We yielded on the process of the Committee. I just would not yield on the scope. They wanted to make it about Black Lives Matter. That wasn't what happened on January 6th. So, I was not going to yield on the scope. And that's where we are.
Q: Madam Speaker, yesterday, Kevin McCarthy dismissed the idea of a Select Committee as political. I have talked to some Democrats in the House, some Republicans in the House that worry that any Committee that comes out looking at 1/6 will be looked at as political and therefore may not have the same impact. Do you worry that a Select Committee’s findings will be dismissed or tainted somehow by –
Speaker Pelosi. No, I don't worry about that at all. I do think it would have been preferable to have an outside Commission. There were those who thought that the Republicans would – God knows who they would appoint. I said that's worth the risk, because I think that has a legitimacy in the public mind. But I have no intention of walking away from our responsibility. And I don't care what, you know – I hope that Kevin will appoint responsible people to the Committee.
Yes, sir? Next to you.
Q: Is there a timeline that you want this Committee to have a final report to you?
Speaker Pelosi. Yes.
Q: Who will this Committee report to? And what does that final report look like?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, the timeline will be as long as it takes for them – the time they need to do the investigation of the causes of this. There are two actual paths. One is about the root causes of it: the white supremacy, the antisemitism, the Islamophobia – all the rest of it that was so evident, when you see a sweatshirt on one of the people saying ‘Camp Auschwitz.’ The other is the security of the Capitol and what it means to be ready for such an insurrection. While I think we could have been better prepared, I don't think anybody would have foreseen an insurrection incited by the President of the United States.
So, the timetable will be as long as it takes. We were agreeable to doing it in a timeframe that the Republicans felt comfortable with, but now another month has gone by and another month has gone by. So we'll just have to make up the plan and see how long that takes.
Q: On Infrastructure here.
Speaker Pelosi. Infrastructure. Anything further on that? One more and then we'll go to infrastructure.
Q: Speaker Pelosi, I'm wondering how important it is, or do you think it is, that the Select Committee call on McCarthy to testify about his conversation with Trump that day –
Speaker Pelosi. I'm not going into that what the Committee will do. That's up to the Committee to make their determination. But it is clear that the Republicans are afraid of the truth.
Q: Thank you.
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah, I said we'll go to infrastructure?
Q: Yes, please. On infrastructure. Obviously, there's this two-track plan here. A bipartisan plan – they’re going to go down to the White House shortly.
Speaker Pelosi. 11:45.
Q: Reconciliation after. Obviously, the bipartisan plan is not done yet. That's not been socialized completely over on the House side yet. But the question is: do you think that a bipartisan plan faces problems in the House because of the narrow majority? And that's why more of your Members would prefer this bigger bill, something that gets into some of these others that aren't the, you know, the steel and bridges and roads infrastructure – or other types of infrastructures, as you might say?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let me just say that I associate myself with what the President has put forth to Build Back Better. With the Republicans – what this bipartisan bill is more of traditional infrastructure, which is important. But we have to do more in terms of how we go into the future.
So, let me be really clear on this. We will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill. If there is no bipartisan bill, then we'll just go when the Senate passes a reconciliation bill. But I'm hopeful that we would have the bipartisan bill. I think it would be really important to demonstrate the bipartisanship that has always been a hallmark of our infrastructure legislations – always been bipartisan. And less so when President Obama was president, because the Republicans wanted to shrink the program. But nonetheless, nonetheless, it was a bipartisan bill.
The – 11:45, we'll all be waiting to see what the announcement is, and then we'll go from there. But make sure you understand this: that when people say, ‘Well, I'm not going to vote for this unless I see that.’ There ain't gonna be no bipartisan bill, unless we are going to have the reconciliation bill.
Q: On the antitrust legislation in the works in the House. Madam Speaker, can you respond to criticism from Amazon, Apple, Facebook that these bills would be harmful to innovation and to consumers, and can you confirm that you did speak with Apple's Tim Cook earlier this month?
Speaker Pelosi. There's no question that the – let me just say what this is about, rather than their characterization about it. There has been concern on both sides of the aisle about the consolidation of power of the tech companies. And these – this legislation is an attempt to address that in the interest of fairness, in the interest of competition, in interest of meeting the needs of people who are – whose privacy, whose data and all the rest is at the mercy of these tech companies.
So, I've said to them, ‘If you have a substantive concern, put it forth as Congress works its will.’ That's been my conversation with Tim, with – I don’t know what the title is. President?
Speaker Pelosi. CEO. Was just that. In other words, Congress will work its will. They'll have the mark-up in Committee. We’ll go to Rules. If you have substantive concerns, and you have – and Members – and they have Members who have voted with them on this. They can put forth what they want to put forth, but we're not going to ignore that consolidation that has happened and the concern that exists on both sides of the aisle.
Q: Is there a way to do though without, you know, taking away features like Prime Shipping on some items or Find My iPhone apps that that people are accustomed to and enjoy. Is there a way to strike a balance there?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I don't think we're going to be having that conversation here, but we certainly want to meet the needs of the consumer. The consumer, competition – consumer and competition. That's what our responsibility is about, and, it's – technology has been a wonderful asset to the future of our country. It has also been a challenge in terms of privacy, fairness, exploitation of people's data and the rest.
Q: Madam Speaker, when it comes to infrastructure, a number of progressives have said that while it's a good thing to see this bipartisan bill potentially moving forward, they may have to hold out for this human infrastructure element that they're really trying to see pass and become law. How are you trying to – well, there are potential concerns that, you know, this piece of legislation may come up later on this year?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, as I said, there won't be an infrastructure bill unless we have a reconciliation bill, plain and simple. In fact, I use the word ‘ain't.’ There ain't going to be an infrastructure bill unless we have the reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate, because we have the shared values. This is really important, what President Biden, what the Biden-Harris Administration is doing. It really should give people hope. It's transformative, if not revolutionary.
It's transformative in that we're talking about doing infrastructure in a way that is about the future, that protects our planet, that is resilient and green and sustainable. It's about doing it in a way that opens the door to many more people to participate in the prosperity of our country. It's about saying, ‘We want women to be part of building the future of our country,’ and for that – and for men, too, dads, too. We need child care, we need the Child Tax Credit, we need family and medical leave. We need workforce training and development, so that many more people can participate. And we need our justice formula in there, so that we're not – that we're undoing harm done to neighborhoods, people of color and previously underrepresented – not represented, but underserved – communities in that regard.
So, this is about something new and different. We all share that value, starting with the President of the United States. House and Senate Democrats are united in that we are not having a – we're not bringing, in our House, we're not bringing to the Floor unless the both bills pass in the Senate. And it's going to be – it's Building Back Better with women. I always say ‘with women’ – but with women, I also mean with minorities, people of color and the rest of that. With women, with diversity, with equity, with justice in our communities as we go forward.
So, we have a fabulous opportunity, and if we can do a chunk of it first in the infrastructure bill, that would be good. And I hope that that will happen. And we're hoping that, in an hour, we will hear that it will. But then, we have to go to the – you know what happens, we go from there to the budget bill, which then enables us to enter into the writing of the reconciliation legislation. So this is, this is a time of transformation for our country. And it's pretty exciting. And I'm very optimistic that it will happen. And I don't – I'm not – want to say, allay the fears. I don't think they’re fears. They're just advocating, and God bless them for doing that, but we're not going down the path unless we all go down the path together.
Thank you all very much.