Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Today

July 28, 2021
Press Release

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.  Still morning, right?  Good morning. 

Yesterday, the world saw the truth of January 6th.  They saw what we knew: that our Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police of Washington, D.C., were our heroes.  They risked their lives to save the Capitol, our democracy, and to honor the Constitution, the Constitution which called for us on January 6th to count the vote, take the – receive the Electoral College votes, to count them and to certify the President of the United States.  There was an assault on that particular day – it wasn't just any day of the week – to make sure that we did not honor the Constitution and that we would disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. 

Those law enforcement officers were heroes.  They risked their lives to honor the oath they take to uphold the Constitution.  Their testimony was powerful.  We thank these [patriots] for their heroism and the valor of that dark day, and we thank them for their courage to present their harrowing testimony of what happened that day. 

We have a duty to the Constitution and to the country to find the truth, to follow the facts where they take us and to honor the trust that the American people have placed in us.  We must ensure that the American people have confidence in the truth that emerges.  We thank our heroes – more than just the four who testified, but the story they told. 

I have quoted President Lincoln many occasions, and I did most recently yesterday morning to the House Democratic Caucus.  And this is what he said during the Civil War: ‘We cannot escape history.  We of this Congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves.  No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us.’

He then went on to say, Lincoln did, ‘We bear the responsibility,’ to find the truth and to ensure – again, this is my words now – this attempt to overthrow the government never happens again.  This is called patriotism.  It is about the Constitution.  It is about the life and future of our American democracy.  There is no room for politics or partisanship. 

I salute Chairman Thompson and the entire Committee for the solemnity and patriotism they brought to the proceedings.  I'm very proud of all of them, but all of us are most proud of the law enforcement officers who testified. 

As the Select Committee pursues the truth, the House continues to work For The People.  Right now, we have the appropriations bills on the Floor that meet the needs of America's working families.  I'm always taking pride in the Appropriations Committee, being an appropriator for many years myself.  It's a place where we always strive for bipartisanship.  We always try to find common ground. 

The President said that ‘Help Is On The Way.’  Well, we can say, with these bills, that ‘Help is Here,’ with the investments in jobs, opportunity and, again, working families.  That is what unite us as Democrats: our commitment to America's working families, whatever – despite whatever differences we may have.  And in this legislation, we are benefiting American working families with investments in health, education and financial security as we advance justice, rebuilding the infrastructure as we take America into a clean energy future to fight the climate crisis.  We're helping workers by creating jobs, thousands of good paying jobs that this legislation will engender.  We're fighting future pandemics and advancing America's preeminence in science, science, science, science and science, honoring our duty to veterans and keeping America safe. 

At last, the Senate has – again, I go to another subject.  On the subject of the supplemental that we sent over two months ago to the Senate, I'm very pleased that we're hearing that they may be taking up that legislation finally today.  It's not what we sent.  It's certainly not what we need, but it is a good step forward.  We are eager to see what does transpire.  We understand it will happen today. 

There are certain things that we had wanted – to have a bonus for our workers.  Here, they are not in it – well, when we see what they pass, actually pass, we can talk about what we need to do along the way.  But we do – it's long-overdue, months overdue, hundreds of billions of dollars under-funded.  But, nonetheless, I think the actions yesterday by our law enforcement officers and their appeal to get something done as soon as possible has perhaps even jarred the Senate to move in a bipartisan way to pass this legislation. 

So, we look forward to seeing what they do and hopefully taking up that legislation this week.  It doesn't mean that we're finished, but it does mean that we are – we can't wait another day until we strengthen our Capitol Police force, strengthen the Capitol, the actual physical Capitol, so as soon as we can, we can come to a time when families and children can come and learn about the Congress, legislators can do their job, you all can do yours, covering it all, and we can return to some – return to some normalcy. 

And this – that, I guess, is about it for now. 

***

Questions?

Q:  Madam Speaker. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Yeah. 

Q:  Just to clarify something from earlier, is Kevin McCarthy a moron and, if so, why? 

Speaker Pelosi.  I said earlier in my comments: science, science, science, and science.  On almost every subject that you can name, science is the answer.  Whether it's the climate crisis, whether it's a health crisis, what – whether it's our preeminence in the world, in technology: science, science, science, science. 

To say that wearing a mask is not based on science, I think, is not wise, and that was my comment.  And that's all I'm going say about that. 

Yes, sir. 

Q:  Madam Speaker, on the January 6th Committee –

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes, sir. 

Q:  What steps would you like to see them take next, and how soon should they take them?  You're about to go out on a seven-week recess. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, the Committee is its own functioning self.  I made the appointments.  We understood what our purpose was.  We passed the legislation to establish it.  But they will make their determination in terms of time, place and circumstances, as we heard from the – from the officers yesterday.  That's how you make a judgment.  And so they will, they will make those decisions.  I'm not involved in that – those decisions at all. 

Q:  You did take some political backlash for the idea of how long this might go, the idea that it would bleed into next year.  Would you like to see them move expeditiously? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, what you may call political backlash is — ‘Welcome to my world.’  That's every day on every subject.  I barely notice. 

But the – no, I mean, they will, they will take the time that they need.  I said that because we were very late in getting to this because we were striving for the bipartisan Commission, which we thought was very possible.  It was something that we yielded on every score in terms of make-up, who's on it, process, who can subpoena and timing.  And they wanted it by – we wanted it by the end of March; they wanted end of December.  Fine.  And that was even a source of questioning with the Senate.  They wanted clarity about when that would be. 

So – but, now a few months have gone by since all of this discussion happened.  They will take the time they need, follow the facts where they take them, and do so in a way that is worthy of our Constitution as we protect and defend it.  So, it's not about wanting to make it last long.  No, it will take as long as they – as they decide in terms of the need of time to follow the facts. 

But I'm not in that.  They make – they made the decision, and I salute them.  And they went right out.  Perhaps you were there when they went out and said, ‘We are going to have our first hearing, and we're going to focus on the law enforcement officers.’  That was their decision, and it was a very wise one.

Yes, ma'am. 

Q:  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is doing a number of radio ads in the coming days in Kentucky to promote getting vaccinated in his state.  What do you make of this effort?  And has he done enough to call out specifically some on the right who are spreading vaccine misinformation? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I'm glad that he's doing those ads.  Long-overdue.  This was so self-evident and so obvious.  They must have been getting – I don't know.  Maybe they were getting, to use your term, ‘political backlash’ for not doing it, as they now sadly see people suffering and, in some cases, with long-term COVID. 

So, certainly, the Republican Party has been delinquent in embracing the science that people need to be vaccinated.  And that's why, when we talk about the masking policy in the House, following the guidance, we always just follow the guidance of the Capitol physician.  There is no discussion about ‘should we do it, should we not’ for one reason or another.  It's [the] decision of the Capitol physician, who is following the guidance of the CDC about the masks.  Well, people have known for a long time that we need to do the vaccinations. 

I know a lot about viruses because I, for 30 years, have been working on the HIV and AIDS.  My very first words on the Floor of the House were about HIV and AIDS.  And what I can tell you is, if I thought that 30 some years ago when I took the oath that day and spoke about AIDS, in the next minutes after that in a special election – it was a special swearing-in – if I had thought then that we would not have a cure for AIDS 30 years some later, I would not have possibly believed that.  We have quality of life.  We have good therapies.  We have good care.  We have good prevention.  But these viruses are very resourceful.  They just mutate as they see fit.  And in terms of what that means now, the mutations are engendered by transmittal.  So, the more people who are vaccinated, the less transmission, the less mutation, the less challenge for how do we deal with this new variant.  So, long-overdue, but always welcome, in terms of the Leader taking out ads.  I'm so happy for the people who will be getting that message, who for some reason or other may have thought that politicians know more about science than scientists. 

Q:  Madam Speaker, on the Select Committee for a moment. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes, sir. 

Q:  There have been a number of Members of Congress who've been identified as potential witnesses.  If those Members are called and they refuse to testify, what message would that send?  And what steps would the Majority take to compel that testimony, perhaps fines or something like that? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Perhaps I wasn't clear enough.  This is the work of the Select Committee.  They will make determinations as to where the facts will take them.  They have said everything is on the table.  I've seen in their public statements, in their public statements.  That's how I know that; I saw it in their public statements.  So, I would not be a party to any of those decisions, so I could not tell you what they might decide, should Members not participate. 

Q:  Isn't this a matter of the full House, though, that Members being called before a proceeding to testify, that, you know, they should observe those obligations? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, the question is about the power of subpoena.  And they do have the power of subpoena.  But let's just see where they go, rather than speculate on a place they may or may not go.  I don't know.  And then we'll go from there. 

Thank you.

Q:  Madam Speaker? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes, Chad.

Q:  There's been a lot of back and forth between the Administration and Democrats here on Capitol Hill about student loans and canceling student loan debt.  Each have said, well, the President can do this by Executive Order.  The President said, ‘oh, let's do it by legislation.’  Could you explain why the Administration and Democrats in Congress pushing for this are fighting this?  And, I mean, it would seem there's not the votes to pass the bill.  Is that, in fact, the case?  Is that why Congress is –

Speaker Pelosi.  No, but thank you for your question.  It's so refreshing to get a question on substance and process, but not responding to whatever. 

Here's the thing.  People think that the President of the United States – is this more on the subject than you ever want to know?  Well, you'll let me know.  People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness.  He does not.  He can postpone.  He can delay.  But he does not have that power.  That has to be an act of Congress.  And I don't even like to call it forgiveness because that implies a transgression.  It's not to be forgiven, just freeing people from those obligations. 

So, the question of who gets forgiven – to use the term of art that is out there – is a debate.  Do we use whatever money there is for the broadest base of support of the, those with – more people with even less debt, or fewer people with more debt?  That's a policy discussion. 

But the difference between the President – the President can't do it.  So that's not even a discussion.  Not everybody realizes that.  But the President can only postpone, delay, but not forgive. 

Q:  And that said, following up, what would be the parameter?  And what would be fair to those who have incurred major debts, repaid them or are still working to do so –

Speaker Pelosi.  Yeah.

Q:  And then if, say, something were to go through, say, okay, this group had to pay and this group does not.

Speaker Pelosi.  Yeah, well, you – there you are.  You've described it very well.  I do think that what the President is putting forth in Build Back Better in terms of opportunity for all Americans, whether they go to college or not – you know, they may not even aspire to that.  And that's fine.  And that's fine.  But we do want to give them vocational training or other opportunity so they can reach their fulfillment as well. 

So, this is a broader discussion, but it is – it's not one that we're going solve right here and now.  But you, you – that would be an attitude that people would have.  But even take it on top of that, suppose your family was not – your child just decided they want to – at this time, not want to go to college, but you're paying taxes to forgive somebody else's obligations.  You may not be happy about that. 

But you know what?  We want all of our kids to reach their fulfillment.  To the extent that they want to go to college, we do not want them to be prohibited from doing that for financial reasons.  I've had high school students come in here and say, with their grades, they're able to be accepted in the Ivy League here and there, but their families' economic situation does not enable that to happen because they have to stay close to home, to work, to be part of the family situation. 

So what we'd like to do is have an economy that is fair, that gives opportunity and does not hold anybody back because of financial reasons.  And, again, how some people may view the relieving people of this obligation has to be viewed in a fair way, where we have something that gives opportunity – that's the big word – opportunity to all of America's families. 

Yes, yes.

Q:  There's talk in the Senate that there's a bipartisan deal –   

Speaker Pelosi.  Yeah.

Q:  Which was reached with the White House.  Would you commit to approving a bill, unchanged, a Senate bill unchanged, assuming it passes the Senate, would it be unchanged in the House? 

Speaker Pelosi.  No.

Q:  You'd change it? 

Speaker Pelosi.  No.  I mean, the point is we have to see it.  Have you seen it? 

Q:  I have not. 

Speaker Pelosi.  We haven't seen it.  So you're asking me to commit to something that none of us has seen. 

We are rooting for it.  We're hoping for the best.  That's just good news, just as we came in, that it broke that they thought they were even closer.  We've heard that before.  But, no, I mean, we're –  we very much want it to pass.  Our Chairman of our Committee of jurisdiction is saying that we'd like to see it, and perhaps we may have to have some discussion about it.  But I can't commit to passing something that I don't even know what it is yet, but I'm hoping for the best. 

Q:  But you still won't put that on the Floor until reconciliation has passed the Senate? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes.  Still.  Thank you for your question.

Q:  Madam Speaker? 

Speaker Pelosi.  He's saying that that was the last question.  And when Drew says it's the last question, that's –   

Q:  Should the Giants trade for Max Scherzer? 

Speaker Pelosi.  What? 

Q:  Should the Giants trade for Max Scherzer?

Speaker Pelosi.  Oh, here we go.  We got sports.  I have been – if you think I'm in a mood, I've been staying up all night watching the Olympics, the reruns, the this, the that.  I just love watching it and the drama of it all, too. 

But God bless, God bless our athletes for – we admire them for their skill and their discipline and their focus and their talent, and we admire them as athletes.  But we admire them as people for having the strength to walk away from all of that. 

Thank you all.