Transcript of Pelosi Interview on CNN's Newsroom with Jim Sciutto
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Jim Sciutto on CNN’s Newsroom to discuss the urgent need for the Senate to take up the House-passed Heroes Act, the Trump Administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic response and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Jim Sciutto. As Congress left for the July Fourth break, 1.3 million Americans were filing for first-time unemployment benefits. In all now, nearly 50 million Americans have filed since the start of this pandemic, and now this: growing fears of an eviction and homelessness crisis as that extra $600 benefit from the government ends or is scheduled to end this month. Lawmakers now with less than three weeks to find a solution as the pandemic, its economic toll show no signs, sadly, of letting up. Joining us now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Madam Speaker, thanks very much for taking time this morning.
Speaker Pelosi. My pleasure, thank you.
Jim Sciutto. I want to begin, if I can, on economic relief for Americans going through the economic effects of this. As you know that additional $600 unemployment benefit is going to end in just two weeks. Can you find common ground before that with Republicans?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I certainly hope so. Not only will that end but the unemployment benefits will end. The last checks will be going out the last week in July. So, it's absolutely urgent that we pass the legislation, The Heroes Act, that we had proposed.
Tomorrow, it will be two months since we passed The Heroes Act with the putting money in the pockets of the American people, the Unemployment Insurance and the direct payments. You talked about the moratorium on evictions ending now. We have over – almost $200 billion in there, $100 billion to help renters and $75 billion to help people meet their mortgage payments as well as other for people who are homeless and rural housing specific initiatives. Very important.
Jim Sciutto. Okay.
Speaker Pelosi. And so it's about – the other element of jobs is that our funds are so aptly named for our heroes, our health care workers, our first responders, our sanitation workers, food workers, teachers, teachers, teachers, all paid by state and local government, and we have the resources in the bill for state and local government, which are essential. And it all relates specifically to their outlays on the coronavirus and their loss of revenue because of the coronavirus.
Jim Sciutto. Okay.
Speaker Pelosi. So, this is very important that we do.
Jim Sciutto. As you know far better than me, it's all about horse trading at this point. Priority for the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans is liability protection. Is that something that you'd be willing to give on?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, what does he mean by that? Does he mean essential workers have to go to work, if they don't they lose their Unemployment Insurance, and if they get sick there, they have no recourse? I think a better path would be for them to join us in our OSHA – a strong OSHA provision that is in The Heroes Act.
We've had it in every bill. They have not accepted it, but, once again, a strong OSHA provision, which gives protection not only to the worker but to the employer if, in fact, they put into place the precautions, the protections, that are in the OSHA bill. If someone gets sick, they have been protected because they’ve honored the OSHA rule. But if they just don't want to do that and just say, ‘You have to go to work. You're essential and you don't get unemployment benefits unless you come, and we have no responsibility if you get sick.’
It's not just about workers, though. It's about customers and clients and other people who have exposure to any particular workplace.
Jim Sciutto. For sure.
Speaker Pelosi. So this protects the employer, protects the worker, protects the customer.
Jim Sciutto. Question on time, because, of course, your recess is fast approaching. Would you be willing to delay that recess or forgo it to get to a deal, to get to a new stimulus package?
Speaker Pelosi. Is he speaking?
Jim Sciutto. Sorry, Speaker, can you hear me? Did we lose you entirely, Speaker Pelosi?
We lost the audio there, we're going to try to get that prepared – repaired, rather.
Speaker Pelosi. I hear you again, okay. We lost you there.
Jim Sciutto. She's back.
Speaker Pelosi, apologies, technology gets in the way.
I was asking you just about timing because the August recess is fast approaching.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes.
Jim Sciutto. Would you be willing to forgo that or delay that to get to a deal to extend benefits?
Speaker Pelosi. Oh, we absolutely have to. We also have to come to an agreement. The timetable is the timetable of the American people needing their Unemployment Insurance, their direct payments, their assistance for rent and mortgage foreclosure forbearance, in terms of that. We need it for states and localities to be able to – to be able to pay their employees who are meeting the needs of their constituents. And, you know what, we need it to open the economy by testing, tracing, treating, isolating.
We need to do that and we call upon the President of the United States to employ the Defense Protection Act so that we can have the equipment to test, the equipment to evaluate the test. There's no use taking a test if you're not going to find out for a week whether you're positive or negative.
The PPE –
Jim Sciutto. Fair point.
Speaker Pelosi. – that is necessary for the schools needs to be produced under the Defense Production Act. So this is a path to opening the economy and opening our schools. For some reason, the President has resisted that, but this is an absolute must.
Jim Sciutto. I do want to get to schools but, just quickly, as you saw the President, yesterday, is still insisting that you test more, you get more cases. He's still in that mindset. Given there's no sign of a national plan on things such as testing coming from this White House, I wonder how the House, how Congress is filling that void? We're months in, deaths and cases are still rising, spiking.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, thank you for asking. That's part of The Heroes Act. But it's been part of what we have been proposing all along. Our very first bill, March 4th, was testing, testing, testing. We increased funding in the recent PPP bill. Testing, testing, testing. It's just that the Administration has not done what it should do.
So, in our plan, rather than trusting the Administration to use the funds the way you would expect them to, to rely on science to do, in our bill we have a very clear directive, a strategy for testing, tracing, treatment and, again, all of this: sanitation, the distancing, the mask-wearing, et cetera. But we have to do this.
But you really can’t do it unless you have the equipment. We don’t have the equipment. Even if we had a vaccine, God-willing we will soon, but it won't be for months. We don't even have the syringes and the vials so, Defense Production Act. Let's anticipate. Let's take responsibility.
We have a plan in there. Frank Pallone, the Chair of our Energy and Commerce Committee, working with his committee, working with other committees, has put that in there, real direction to get it done. And it's necessary for us to address the, the disparity in how this is an assault on people of color and low-income people who don't have as much access to health care and to, to the testing.
So, again, more testing. For the President says, more testing means more cases –
Jim Sciutto. Yeah.
Speaker Pelosi. I don't even – let's not go there. Let's just talk about science, science, science –
Jim Sciutto. Fair.
Speaker Pelosi. – governance, governance, governance. How they work together to defeat this virus.
Jim Sciutto. And that’s what we try to do every day on this show. I want to ask you, because your state of California, they shut down early, they got the outbreak under control, they reopened and they’re seeing cases spiking again. I wonder, did California open too fast, too soon and do you believe that states now experiencing these spikes need to shut down again?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I do believe that our governor, Governor Newsom, has done an excellent job. And I do also know that he had some pressure from different regions of the state who have experienced the virus differently. And a lot of the – many of the decisions that have to be made relate to the rate of infection in your area. And those, those areas that used their discretion to open up, now are closing down again.
I do think we should look to our – our friends in other countries. When they had a serious lockdown, serious lockdown, ninety-some percent lockdown, they won in the fight against the virus. So, again, regions have to make their decisions. We should be able to give them the equipment to do so in testing, tracing, treating, et cetera. But it is a recognition that unless you have a very, very low percentage of incidence of the infection, you really have to consider locking down.
Jim Sciutto. All right. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, we appreciate you joining this program this morning.
Speaker Pelosi. My pleasure. Don't forgot, the Defense Production Act. It's the answer to so much. Thank you.
Jim Sciutto. We'll keep talking about it. You have a good afternoon.