Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Today
June 5, 2019
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, everyone.
Here we are – day of orange, gun violence prevention.
We were all in front of the Capitol to, once again, express support for the Senate to pass the legislation that we already passed in the House for commonsense background checks and gun violence prevention, hence the color orange.
Yesterday was really a great day for us in the House. We passed the Dream and Promise Act with 100 percent of the Democrats voting yes, and it was bipartisan.
Again, as President Reagan has said – he said, ‘If we ever close the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost.’
That was his last speech as President of the United States. You’ve heard me say that time and time again. One of our speakers yesterday used that arguing against a Motion to Recommit, which we resoundingly won as well – defeating it.
We all believe that immigration is the constant reinvigoration of America, enriching America with immigrants enriching America with – their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations.
And, again, it’s a happy – really a happy day, because our Dreamers, they’re the gold standard. They love America. They’re patriotic. They serve in our military. They teach in our schools. They help with health care. They came here as children and are not to be charged for an action that they did not decide to take. And yesterday was fabulous, but not only the Dreamers but Temporary Protected Status and DED people as well.
So, I congratulate Jerry Nadler, Members of the Judiciary Committee, particularly, Zoe Lofgren. Zoe Lofgren is a virtuoso – masterful at many subjects, but in this case, she is an immigration lawyer. She taught immigration law and she is Chair of the Immigration Subcommittee. And, she was able to orchestrate something quite wonderful. It was not without its challenges, so I congratulate them all for that.
I was personally gratified yesterday that as we observed the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre – that tragedy where the Chinese Government crushed with tanks young people. People all over the country were turning out, but probably a million in Tiananmen Square, and they crushed them with tanks – probably thousands, certainly hundreds.
But yesterday, 30 years later, we had observances all day: a hearing in the morning, a rally outside, legislation on the Floor and 100 percent of the House of Representatives voted for the commemoration of the 30th anniversary, sadly, of Tiananmen Square.
It was very, very – I was – I was just thrilled, because the Chinese Embassy was making their threats and making their calls, but we got 100 percent on that.
This morning, as some of you may know, I signed the – enrolled the legislation for the disaster supplemental bill. And, really, I commend our appropriators. They passed two bills in the House: one, many months ago and then another to address the – to address the additional disasters that had hit us.
Finally, after much inaction, finally the Senate passed legislation, sent it over to us. And, what, three times Republicans objected to the bill being taken up. So, we’re a couple weeks late, even compared to the Senate inaction, in getting this support out to the American people.
In times of natural disaster, we have a – really, a compact with the American people. In their time of need, beyond their own ability to deal with it, a natural disaster, we promise to be there for them.
So, any delay just stirs despair. They get scared that it’s not ever going to happen. So, it was shameful that the Republicans allowed three of their Members to hold up this legislation for about – until Monday night when it was finally passed by the House with a huge, huge vote. So, there we are.
And, you know, on Sunday, we observed 150 days – this past weekend, 150 days since we’ve been in the Majority and I’m really excited to say that in our top ten bills that, most of which, we had passed on the Floor.
We had the For The People Act, H.R. 1: 100 percent of the Democrats voted for it.
In terms of freedom in our country, Equality Act, ending discrimination against LGBTQ community: 100 percent. The Dream Act, yesterday, Dream and Promise Act, expanding opportunity in our country: 100 percent of the Democrats.
As far as women are concerned, paycheck fairness, equal pay for equal work: 100 percent. Violence Against Women – huge, like 99 percent vote in the Congress. Again, affecting women but families in general.
In terms of safety, our background checks legislation: 99 percent.
And then, of course, all of our legislation for our veterans was overwhelming and bipartisan.
And then for children, for young people, the Climate Action Now: 100 percent of the House Democrats. And net neutrality, important to young people: 100 percent.
The list goes on and on. We’re very proud of the work that we have done to send over to the Senate where Mr. McConnell has said he’s the Grim Reaper. It’s a Senate graveyard. We have news for him: all of these issues are alive and well in the public and he will be hearing from the public and hopefully very soon on Dream Act, gun safety, the list goes on.
What else do we have going here, now?
We have – oh, yes. While we legislate, and we’re very proud of our legislation, true to our For The People agenda: lower health care costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and preserving and strengthening the pre-existing condition benefit, bigger paychecks by rebuilding infrastructure in America in a green modern way for the 21st century and cleaner government, H.R. 1, For the People Act, to end the role of big, dark special interest money in politics, strengthening voting rights, ending the voter suppression.
When we’re talking about infrastructure, I want to just go back to the disaster assistance bill. I think we could consider that the first big major investment in infrastructure, building infrastructure of our country. A very large commitment to that, including in Puerto Rico.
And now, today, I am proud to lead a bipartisan congressional delegation to Normandy. Tomorrow will mark 75 years of D‑Day – 75 since D‑Day – one of the greatest acts of heroism in history, when our military and allies deftly defied every danger, every evil, and overcame them.
President Eisenhower, General Eisenhower – and, by the way, if you go to the rotunda, President Eisenhower is a prominent figure there, but he chose, as per his family conveying this to us, he chose to be represented there as a five‑star general. I guess more people can become President than can become five‑star generals, don’t you think?
Anyway, we went four years – five years ago – and spent time with the veterans – that’s our purpose. We’ll go again now, spending time, thanking the veterans who are there. It’s quite remarkable. We have a large bipartisan delegation. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about it.
Speaker Pelosi. Any questions?
Q: You met with the Mexican delegation yesterday. Do you think the President’s threat of tariffs is working? Are they going to step up at the border?
Speaker Pelosi. Do I think the President’s threat – well, let me just – let me read to you. This I found very interesting. The President – first of all, we have no paper. We have a tweet and we have a comment, but we have no paper as it whether and if and when he is going to do this.
So, how we respond to it will depend on what they send us. But, what they did put out, a statement and say – the White House released a formal statement announcing that tariffs would be passed – imposed – that tariffs would be imposed under the International Economic Emergency Powers Act. That’s known as the IEEPA and under that, IEEPA is to allow sanctions of enemies in the face of unusual and extraordinary threats – not to be imposing tariffs on our allies.
That’s how the White House is framing this: tariffs to allow sanctions on enemies in the face of unusual and extraordinary threats.
This is from the same President of the United States who, when all of the intelligence agencies and now the Mueller report have clearly said that Russia made an assault on our elections – he won’t defend our country from that happening in the future – from a President who says that assault that they are claiming Russia made on our elections is a ‘hoax.’ That’s not supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States.
But, back to your question, the meeting that we had was very respectful – praised the relationship between our two countries, made clear that we wanted to pass, we are trying to go to yes on US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.
Our concerns, as I’ve told you before – overarching enforcement – is this enforceable? And, concerns under that a) workers’ rights – how our workers are treated and how their workers are treated. Secondly is environment – not in any particular order – but we can’t be for a bill that does not improve the lot of America’s working families. Environment – very important concerns about how NAFTA fell short on that. And, third, the pharmaceutical issue, which is very important to our Caucus.
So, we have clarity again and again with the Mexican government over what our concerns are and how we hope to have a path to success, but you have to have enforcement as part of the agreement, not as part of a sidebar letter or bills that we might pass in each country, part of the agreement.
So, we again reiterated – actually, we were going to have this meeting and then the news came that the President had this notion that he was going to treat Mexico as an enemy. So, I don’t know if that means the President wants to stop the process or what, but we do, in our relationship with Mexico, want to find comprehensive immigration reform that helps address the problem, have a humanitarian assistance at the border to help meet the needs of the people coming in and, again, not to be punishing Mexico because in punishing Mexico, we will be punishing America as well.
Q: Does the House have the votes to override a Presidential veto on tariffs?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, first of all, let’s see what they are sending forth and if they do send it forth.
The Republican Leader said they’re going to stick with the President on this. I don’t know how many of his Members are going to go along with that. I think the Senate probably has the votes to override, but we’re not talking about override yet.
We haven’t seen anything yet except a tweet – a tweet and then this statement of the authority under which they would do this. But, we haven’t seen anything that we would be overruling and then going to the next step.
But, I think that this is dangerous territory. This is not a way to treat a friend. It’s not a way to deal with immigration. It’s not a way to deal – to meet the humanitarian needs at the border.
Q: Madam Speaker.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, ma’am.
Q: Looking ahead to next week and votes that are anticipated for contempt – have you made decisions about any penalty mechanisms that you would like to see? And then, more broadly, are you feeling any influence from the 2020 contenders and the electorate, more broadly, about any actions you might take?
Speaker Pelosi. No. Well, first of all, the Chairmen – again, I’m very proud of the work of the – our committees, six great committees, following the facts and making decisions about how we go forward.
This is Judiciary Committee largely, could be more. By Tuesday, we’ll see how the Administration responds to the Intelligence Committee. And that – and that we go from there. So, that’s going to – we take it one step at a time.
No, I’m not feeling any pressure.
Q: Madam Speaker.
Speaker Pelosi. And let me just address that.
I see in some metropolitan journals and on some TV that we are trying to find our way or are unsure. Make no mistake, we know exactly what path we’re on. We know exactly what actions we need to take. And while that may take more time than some people want it to take, I respect their impatience.
It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s important to our country, because there is great grief and sadness and pain in our country about the behavior of this President of the United States – calling a Russian assault on our elections a hoax, treating Mexico like an enemy, attacking a woman’s right to choose. The list goes on and on, but that’s policy. The Russian thing is not policy, that is either you’re honoring your oath of office or you are not.
But, in order to go down that path, we’re following the facts. We’ll take them where they lead us. And when we – as we go down that path, we will be as strong as we can be. There is no controversy or try this, try that. We are on a path.
So, if it gives you some entertainment to make it look like, well – disabuse yourself of that. This is a very, very strong team that we have working on this.
We are very – we won two cases in court. I didn’t hear too much in the press about it. We won the Deutsche Bank case and we won the Mazars case, our two big first cases, which established some precedent about the importance of obeying congressional subpoenas.
But, it’s about the Congress. It’s about the courts. And, it’s about the Constitution of the United States. And you have to go down a path that – that is accommodating to all of that in the strongest possible position to make a statement when we get to that point.
Q: Madam Speaker.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, sir.
Q: I want to get some clarity on your tariff answer. Are you suggesting that the President’s threat of tariffs on Mexican imports is just bad policy or illegal by misapplying the law as you understand it?
Speaker Pelosi. No, I’m just saying it’s bad policy.
The question is, though, why does the President have that much authority, and that will be questioned.
No, I’m just saying it’s wrong. I don’t even think it rises to the level of policy. I think it’s notion mongering again.
And it’s really – it – well, let’s face what it is – it’s a distraction from the Mueller report. And, it’s served its purpose right? Here we are. Here we are.
Q: Thank you. Good morning.
On the issue of contempt next week, you know, there was debate in your caucus about inherent contempt or civil contempt. How did you get to that stage?
And the second part of the question is, in Mr. Hoyer’s statement, he indicated that there would be a contempt vote on Mr. Barr, who’s been held in contempt by the Judiciary Committee, but it also mentioned Mr. McGahn. Mr. McGahn has not been held in contempt.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, he’ll be in the contempt.
Q: So you’re going to bypass the committee process for Mr. McGahn?
Speaker Pelosi. It’s not a question of bypassing the committee. We’re working with the committee on all of this, in terms of wording and the rest of it. So, it’s not bypassing the committee.
What it is, though, is about taking it one step at a time. As fast as we can – you can move more expeditiously to do civil contempt. It doesn’t mean we couldn’t go to inherent contempt at some other point, but you have to get started.
Yeah. One more.
Q: You’ve been clear and recently reiterated that you would like Robert Mueller to testify. Do you still see that as being possible? And Chairman Nadler has said the same thing. Is it time to issue a subpoena for him?
Speaker Pelosi. That’s up to the Committee. What you all have to understand is that I’m a big committee person.
This is the judgment that they will – will put forth. And they’re doing the negotiation. Take it one step at a time.
Hopefully, he would accept an invitation to come. Hopefully, if there is a subpoena that would be friendly and he would come. But we’ll see – I mean, it’s up to them. They will decide as they’re doing negotiation.
And what’s important for people to know – first of all, I travel all the time in the country. Do you know most people think that impeachment means you’re out of office? Did you ever get that feeling or are you just in the bubble here?
They think that you get impeached, you’re gone. And that is completely not true. And I may have thought that myself 50 years ago. But you get impeached, and it’s an indictment – it’s an indictment.
So, when you’re impeaching somebody, you want to make sure you have the strongest possible indictment because it’s not the means to the end that people think, ‘All you do, vote to impeach, bye‑bye birdie.’
It isn’t that. It’s an indictment. So, you’ll have to have the best possible indictment, going through the legal process in a way that shows accommodation – that we need to get the courts to rule in our favor because we’ve done it correctly and the rest.
So, it is – it is the business of the committees to do that. And when they decide how their accommodations and their conversations are going, then we respect that.
Yeah, and I’m very proud of them. I mean, just – Jerry Nadler has been so fabulous, and the Members of the Judiciary Committee.
Mind you, this list that I read to you: Dreamers, yesterday; For the People Act – some of that came out of the Judiciary Committee, Equality Act came out of Judiciary, Dream and Promise Act out of the Judiciary, Background Checks came out of the Judiciary Committee. So – again, Violence Against Women Act – that came out of the Judiciary Committee.
This is a very active and busy committee and, among its legislating, investigating, and litigating, they’re doing a remarkable, remarkable job.
But we’re not going to investigate and litigate at the expense of our legislating. We are here to do the people’s business – to make their lives better, to challenge the Senate to take up legislation that does just that. And, hopefully, the public sentiments will weigh in on the Senate.
I think they passed three bills or something since they’ve been there. I think that’s not a good record.
But in any event, the committee, in its wisdom and experience, will make a decision. We’re very proud of our House Counsel – he has done a terrific job as well, working with them.
Thank you all very much. We’re going off to Normandy right now. Isn’t it exciting?
Q: Do you anticipate speaking with the President while in France?
Speaker Pelosi. I’m not sure that we’ll be in the same place. I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll see the President.
But we have [almost] 60 Members coming on the trip, so we have our own presence as the House of Representatives. And, the Senators will be there as well.
Five years ago, when we went there, I was – our purpose is to be thanking the veterans, not to attend an event, but to thank the veterans, so – and they’re just so fabulous and so courageous.
So, this is five years ago. So, if they were 18, 19 at the time, they were around 20. They’re around 89, 90 at the time we were talking to them. Their families are there. It’s – spend the time with the families, with the vets.
So, I said to them, oh, just in the course of conversation, ‘My uncle, John D’Alessandro, he died at the Battle of the Bulge.’ And they said, ‘Oh, yeah, we went there. We went there next.’
You landed at Normandy. You climbed the wall, the hills, and all the rest, and you didn’t get a chance to go home. They just fought and – because the Battle of the Bulge was months later, but they fought their way to that.
But imagine their courage – imagine the courage of these people, and they were so young. They were like babies. They were college age, if not seniors in high school, some of them. Some a little bit older.
So, we’ll go to thank them. I think that in the future, we may decide that we should have this every year instead of every five years, because five years will be a long time for many of them to be there.
But, we’ll bring the good wishes of the American people in the most nonpartisan way possible. It’s just a trip about patriotism that we’re very honored, all of us, to take – to extend the gratitude of our country, and for one of the greatest moments in history, that made such a big difference – saving civilization.
You cannot exaggerate the importance of that success, led by President, General Eisenhower, who said if it didn’t succeed, he would take that responsibility. How blessed are we, with our young people, but also with our leadership, President Eisenhower.
Thank you all very much.