Transcript of Pelosi Interview on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Anderson Cooper on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 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:
Anderson Cooper. Two items tonight breaking on Capitol Hill, where the Congressman Louie Gohmert has tested positive for COVID and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi instituting a mask mandate for Members on the Floor. You could see it playing out in a video of Members voting late today, their faces covered, following the rules and modeling healthier behavior, certainly than many have lately. That said, the mandate literally only covers so much. The problem of testing, of course, remains very real.
Joining us now, the Speaker herself, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California. Madam Speaker, thank you so much for being with us.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.
Anderson Cooper. This new mandatory mask mandate that you’ve instituted for the House chambers, my understanding, it doesn't apply to the House office buildings or hallways. Would you like it to and do you think it should extend to both chambers, frankly, or the entire Capital complex?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, yes, what – the proclamation I made today applies to the hall of the House. The Members cannot come on to the Floor of the House unless they have a mask and I, as Speaker, have directed the Sergeant at Arms, the Capitol police to refuse exit – entry into the hall if people don't have on a mask, a mask, and we have masks there for them.
The Sergeant at Arms will issue the regulations and the rest probably tomorrow and, with it, what goes with it for the other rooms in the Capitol, other – what happens in the other office buildings that are on Capitol Hill. So that expanded announcement won't — probably happen tomorrow.
Anderson Cooper. The Minority Leader McCarthy said today, ‘Testing would be critical at the Capitol, because people can be here and have it and would not know.’
Obviously, that is factually correct. It also applies to the entire rest of the country who still cannot get easily tested. I don't know if it's ironic he's saying this but the problem of testing, I mean, it's extraordinary to me that we're still in this situation where people can't get tests and it takes two weeks for people to get results.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, when the White House originally suggested that they had enough tests to send us, I consulted with the Capitol Physician, and really, we are not – it's just not the Members of Congress. It's the Members of Congress and support staff and that's very many people. We can't say, well, as Members, we should get tested but the other people shouldn't.
But it points to the challenge that we have in the country. We have the tools at our disposal – testing, tracing, treatment, isolation, mask wearing, sanitation – to hold this virus in check, to try to beat it. Hopefully, we will have a vaccine or some therapies that will be helpful, but we don't have them to a full extent now, certainly not a vaccine. And until we do, we have to do what we can. Other countries have done it. It works.
But in order for us to do it in the Capitol with a full – with everybody there, as well as in the country, we need more equipment. And the reason everybody isn't tested, because there isn't enough equipment to test everyone. And then we don't have enough equipment to get the results of the test. Sometimes it takes a week to get results, almost useless by then and then we need the PPE, the Personal Protective Equipment for the people administering the test and our health care providers and teachers and others to have that equipment.
So, we've asked the President to have the Defense Production Act going into action to insist that our businesses produce this equipment. This equipment, he just won't do it. He hasn't done it. We have this plan in our Heroes Act. This is a way for us to open our economy, facilitate opening our schools by reducing the rate of infection in our communities. But in order to do that, we have to know what it is and that requires testing, tracing, treatment, et cetera.
Again, when it come back to us, what we should have, it – well, I will leave the judgment up to the Capitol Physician about whether we have the equipment and the rest to just test Members. That doesn't seem enough, but there was great cause for alarm in the Capitol when people found out that Congressman Gohmert had been – not – tested the way he had and participated in two hearings yesterday, largely without a mask. Very irresponsible on his part. And Members were very unhappy because he interacted with other Members, but other staff, as well.
Anderson Cooper. Yeah, is there any progress on any kind of further steps toward coming to a consensus on what happens next in terms of helping working people, helping people on unemployment and helping people who are in desperate straits right now?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, central to that is to get rid of this virus, and that's why I keep coming back to the fact we can open our economy, we can improve the situation, if we follow science. But if you don't believe in science and you don't believe in governance, as they don't seem to, then that makes it more problematic.
So, in terms of our conversations, we have to fundamentally agree that central to solving our problem is solving the virus to the extent that we can. We have three main pillars that are state and local government to honor heroes, health care providers, our first responders, sanitation, transportation, food, all of the services that people need that are provided by state and local.
They have said, ‘Zero.’ ‘Zero.’ It can't be. It can't be. And by the way, it’s much less than they spent to give tax cuts to the top one percent in our country, 83 percent of the benefits going to the top one percent. Now, all of a sudden, it’s the money.
In addition to that, we have the testing, which I described, and then put money in the pockets of the American people. While they have a disdain or sort of a condescension toward working people it seems because they don’t trust how they might use the $600. That kind of thing. ‘Oh, they have money to pay the rent. They are just not paying the rent.’ Well, that – we cannot operate if we're not even stipulating to a basic set of facts: the people are hurting, that unemployment is high and that we have a way to address this in terms of honoring heroes, testing, tracing, treatment as well as money in the pockets of the American people, being respectful of them and understanding their needs.
People are hungry. Millions of children are food insecure in our country, and we can't get them to do food stamps and women, infant and children food feeding programs and the rest of that.
We have a – we still have a long way to go, but we're determined that we will try to find common ground. We need the public to weigh in about the need to support state and local government and all the people who serve the communities. You can't open schools; state and local government supply over 90 percent of the funding for schools.
Anderson Cooper. Yeah.
Speaker Pelosi. So, this is all connected. It's all addressed in the Heroes Act, and I hope that they would come closer to our thinking on it than some of the – it's over ten weeks since we passed the bill.
Anderson Cooper. Yeah.
Speaker Pelosi. Leader McConnell said, ‘We need a pause.’ Then came back this Monday with a piecemeal. Well, that’s not – this is as big as it gets, a plague that has an impact on our economy. And it's about the lives of the American people, the livelihood of the American people and the life of our democracy.
Anderson Cooper. Speaker Pelosi, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.