Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC's Live with Ayman Mohyeldin
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Ayman Mohyeldin on MSNBC’s Live to discuss the House-passed Heroes Act, the latest on the COVID-19 response package and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Ayman Mohyeldin. Here to talk about these latest developments and much more is the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Madam Speaker, thank you so much for joining. Let me start by getting your reaction to the last point we heard there, that the President says he would not veto a standalone bill to fund the Postal Service.
Speaker Pelosi. I don't know if the President realizes the – how legislation works. Right now we're in negotiations in which the Postal Service as well as vote by mail, absentee balloting to use his term, are just being discussed for funding. As he's saying that we can send him a single – a bill that is just about funding the Post Office, we would be happy to do that.
But from what we see at the Postal Service, the removal of mailboxes, the removal of equipment within the postal offices and the rest is to undermine the Postal Service at a time when the Postal Service is needed now more than ever. 1.2 billion prescriptions were sent through the mail in 2019. That was before the coronavirus.
For this election, because people shouldn't have to choose between voting by mail or — choosing to be healthy or being able to exercise their right to vote, the Postal Service is election central. The President himself and the First Lady have asked for their absentee ballots. The rest of the country should be able to do that as well.
Ayman Mohyeldin. So, the President also, Madam Speaker, claims that mail-in voting could lead to foreign interference from countries like Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. You get intelligence briefings, can you set the record straight? Is there anything you've seen that backs up his claim?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, this is ironic – or if that’s the word – because this President has welcomed interference from Russia into the campaign. And he knows that Russia is 24/7 actively working to help re-elect him. So let's – this is a sad situation. We take an oath of office to protect the – and defend The Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. The actions this Administration are taking, vis-a-vis our voting system, our sacred right to vote, are a domestic assault on our Constitution.
And what – I think we spend too much time on what the President says and notion mongers out there. Let's focus on how we can crush this virus, how we can support our children to go to school in a very safe way, we can put money in the pockets of the American people so that our economy is strengthened, rather than take time wondering what he meant and if he knew what he was even talking about at the time and if his advisers do as well.
I think one day children and grandchildren of these Republicans who are in office now or serving the Administration in one capacity or another will say to their father or grandfather or grandmother, ‘What did you do to protect our country from this assault on everything that we stand for?’ An assault on our elections, an assault on our environment, an assault on the people that we are, a nation of immigrants, an assault on our Constitution. They're going to have to answer to their children and grandchildren for this, because their silence is really deadly to so much of what we care about.
Ayman Mohyeldin. So, let me ask you very bluntly, are you confident we will have a free and fair election this November? You just outlined some serious issues of concern for the American public. You have a President who is questioning the eligibility of his opponent, politically motivated investigations into his opponent, some say, you have a person who says a President who refuses to accept the results openly if the election does not come in his favor and you now have somebody who is alleging he's tampering with the mail-in voting process in this country. Do you assure the American people that they will have a free and fair and credible election?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, not if the President has anything to do with it. But I do know I'm a former Chair of the California Democratic Party, the largest party in the country, state-wise, and we are going to be out there. We do not agonize, we organize. And we are going to have people voting early. We're going to have people assisting people in terms of – our money in the bill is not just about absentee voting. It is about having polling places be clean places where people can go and not risk their health going there. That means having more polling places, for more space, more hours for people to vote, more days when that is eligible.
So, we are fighting in the states to get that. We are fighting in the courts to prevent them from putting up other obstacles of participation, and we are fighting along the internet to make sure that Russia's attempt to re-elect their friend, Donald Trump, does not steal the election. We think that the American people, and I think they agree, should decide who will be the President of the United States, not Vladimir Putin.
Ayman Mohyeldin. Finally, on this particular subject, Madam Speaker, given what we're seeing play out with the U.S. Postal Service, would you tell Americans that if this situation continues as it is, with the pressure that the Postal Service is under, some reports that, you know, they may not be able to deliver ballots on time, some poll – some post office boxes being removed as we're hearing in Portland, should people risk their lives to go to the polling stations come November?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I think that, first of all, what I would like and I appreciate the opportunity to do so, for everyone to give greetings to their mail carrier. If that means a flower, a bow, a wave, a note, let's show our appreciation for these men and women who connect America, connect as they say the sinews of America.
Benjamin Franklin established this, the Constitution speaks to it, it’s importance. Let's show our appreciation to those who are doing the work. The – I would say if you're going to vote by mail, that you vote early because they will try to say, ‘Well, it doesn't have a stamp, so doesn't have to be postmarked, so we'll just throw it in the corner. We’re going to reduce overtime, employees. And we're not filling in the places where people who have coronavirus have had to be off work.’
So, they're going to do everything they can to slow the mail. And that's just not right. So, again, vote early. Now, some people may not have decided how they're going to vote, and we should respect that. And the Post Office should too, so that they would not slow down the mail, but expedite it to honor the Constitution of the United States.
So, I would say, definitely don't risk your health, vote-by-mail, but if you do, vote plenty early. Because within this Administration is an attempt to make sure your vote doesn't count and doesn't count as cast.
Ayman Mohyeldin. Let's talk a little bit about the coronavirus relief funding. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy offered this solution on CNBC this morning. Take a listen.
Leader McCarthy. There's a trillion dollars that's already appropriated that hasn't been outlaid yet. Why don't we utilize that to find the common ground. You've got more than $100 billion sitting there for states. You have more than $100 billion sitting there for small businesses that may need the PPP again. We have liability protection to protect the schools.
Ayman Mohyeldin. Madam Speaker, is this a compromise Democrats can accept?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, with all due respect to you, Ayman, you call that a solution. I totally disagree. It is an avoidance of responsibility.
There is, and the President has said it himself, he doesn't want to honor our heroes, our state and local workers, our health care workers, our teachers, our first responders, our sanitation, transportation, food workers who meet the needs of our people, of our country. And that is one of the biggest stumbling blocks as the President said this morning.
They said at the beginning – it’s 91 days since we passed the Heroes Act. It’s 81 days until the election. Isn’t that sad? At 91 days , Mitch McConnell said, boom, ‘I'm going to press the pause button.’ But the virus didn't pause, the rent didn't pause, the opening schools didn't pause. All of that moves on. And we have, in our Heroes Act, what meets the needs of the American people.
Do we need to compromise and bring that number down? We did. We said, ‘We'll meet you halfway. We'll come down $1 trillion, you go up $1 trillion,’ to, again, meet the needs of the state and local government – which is not only important to meeting the needs of the people, but their fiscal soundness is important to our economy, to crush this virus so that we can safely have our children in school and open our economy. Put money in the pockets of the American people, which is good for them but also strengthens our economy.
It's about the lives, the livelihoods, and the life of our democracy. And what you heard there was mish mosh, avoidance of our responsibility.
Ayman Mohyeldin. The House Democratic Freshmen – especially those in purple districts – they are reportedly nervous about the lack of progress on relief talks and what that means for their constituents, as it does for millions of Americans. Are you potentially putting their re-election chances in jeopardy by not cutting a deal with Republicans?
Speaker Pelosi. Overwhelmingly, the House Democratic Caucus, including our Freshmen, very much want us to meet the needs of the American people. There may be a few who are new to all of this, but by and large, we're very proud of the leverage that the House Democratic Caucus is giving me, as well as the Senate Caucus to Mr. Schumer, Leader Schumer.
So, with all the respect in the world for how each Member responds to his or her own district, there's a vast difference between what we are doing. $67 billion for food and utilities, $250,000 on the Republican side. $100 billion to help people with their rent, zero on the Republican side. The list goes on and on. That's why the number is so different.
But again, by and large, our Caucus is saying we have to do what is right for the American people. What would we do is just say to them, do your usual thing, your trickle-down, your money for those at the top rather than investing in the – in our economy.
Look, right now the stock market is doing just well because the Fed is bolstering it with trillions of dollars for the markets, not just – not necessarily the stock market, but the credit markets and the money markets that bolster, and that may be a good thing. Why can't we spend significant money to meet the needs of the American people, which are clear in a pandemic that has serious economic impact.
So, I'm very proud of my Caucus, yeah, they've been absolutely great. And our chairmen are the ones who wrote this bill documenting and justifying all of the needs. We're willing to compromise in terms of the timing, but the needs are not diminished. And we're not doing a Sophie's choice of feeding some children but not others –
Ayman Mohyeldin. Madam Speaker –
Speaker Pelosi. Have some in safe school and not others. Thank you, Ayman.
Ayman Mohyeldin. No, Madam Speaker. One last question if I can? I just wanted to switch –
Speaker Pelosi. Oh.
Ayman Mohyeldin. One last question before you go. I wanted to ask you about the new peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and its implications for a two-state solution in the Middle East. The U.S. says we don’t – we want two states, no annexation and no settlements. But if Israel continues to build and close areas to Palestinians, making the two-state solution impossible, should aid to Israel be conditioned on meeting these objectives that the U.S. says it wants?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, first of all, we welcome the peace agreement and I look forward to speaking to the Ambassador later today, from the United Arab Emirates. But I hope, I welcome it. I hope that the commitment to not have annexation is a real one. This could be a wonderful step forward in advancing peace in the Middle East, which we are all – just would be a dream come true, something everyone has worked for, for a long time.
We have passed, in the House, a resolution, which I reference in my statement on this, that does support a two-state solution and we hope that that would be central to how we go forward. But the statement about annexations has to be real for this to be respected. But, again, we welcome it.
Ayman Mohyeldin. Madam Speaker, thank you so much for all of your time this morning. I appreciate it.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Ayman.