Transcript of Pelosi Interview on PBS NewsHour with Judy Woodruff

August 20, 2020
Press Release

San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Judy Woodruff on PBS NewsHour to discuss the House-passed Heroes Act, the House’s upcoming vote to save the U.S. Postal Service and other news of the day.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks: 

Judy Woodruff.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was one of several high-profile women to address the country last night at the Democratic National Convention, sharing her support for the Biden-Harris ticket, and Speaker Pelosi joins us now from San Francisco.  Madam Speaker, thank you for being with us. 

Again, we heard you say last night, you've seen, and I'm quoting, ‘first hand, President Trump's disrespect for facts, for working families and for women, in particular.’  What were you referring to?

Speaker Pelosi.  I was referring to his policies that we know are anti-women and his conduct.  But let's just talk about the policies, if we will.  

I went on to say that we know what he probably doesn't: that when women succeed, America succeeds.  And so we want to protect a woman's right to choose and preserve Roe v. Wade.  We want to have guarantee of affordable, quality child care, and able to unleash the full power of women.  We also want to have strength in Social Security and equal pay for equal work.  And who's standing in the way?  Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump.  To name a few of our women-oriented priorities to unleash the power of women. 

Judy Woodruff.  You have been – you're in San Francisco but you've attended many conventions, as a lot of us have.  This is different, by necessity.  But do you think we're looking at the way conventions are going to be, going forward?

Speaker Pelosi.  This is my fifteenth convention.  My first when I was twelve years old going with my father, Mayor of Baltimore, our whole family.  Italian Americans, we take the whole family to a convention.  Where would we go?  

[Laughter]

And that was interesting. 

But I do think it was beautifully, magnificently handled.  And I do, as the Chair of the Convention – in San Francisco, 1984, I was Chair of the Host Committee of the Convention – I’ve played every role.  I have been Chair, in one Convention, of the Platform Committee, I’ve been Chair of the Delegate Selection Committee and I’ve been Chair of Convention, the whole Convention.  And I can have an appreciation for what they did to pull this off, and it was magnificent.  I had the privilege of thanking the staff earlier today.  

I think our future is probably a hybrid because this was great.  It had an impact, it had succinctness, it had clarity, but it didn't have our collaboration of seeing each other, which I still think is something very important to the strength of the party.  But if I had to choose one way, actual or virtual, I would choose virtual.  But I think hybrid is the way of the future where we can have the benefit of both the impact as well as the collaboration. 

Judy Woodruff.  That's very interesting.  You are convening the House of Representatives.  You've got some travel ahead of you.  That's this Saturday.  You're going to be trying to pass a bill that will forbid the Postal Service from cutting back on services that would impede voting by mail. 

My question is: do you expect to get Republican support for this?  And while you say Republicans are losing on this issue and are scared, how confident are you that once this bill passes, the President’s going to abide by it?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, all we can do is put it on his desk.  I do think we will have some Republican support for what they have been saying.  We'll see how they vote.  But this is something that touches – hits home for America's families. 

The Post Office is – the Postal Service is over 90 percent positive rating from the American people, higher than any agency of government.  It is as American as our Constitution, and it's written in the Constitution that we will have a Postal Service and that Congress shall minister to establishing the roads, et cetera – the postal roads, et cetera.  So, it's as American as our Constitution, apple pie, motherhood, baseball, the Postal Service. 

And right now, we have a situation where Members across the country, Democrats and Republicans, are getting reports of delayed mail.  That affects prescriptions, that – our veterans expect, nearly 100 percent of veteran, VA prescriptions go through the mail.  Last year, 1.2 billion prescriptions went through the mail.  That was in 2019, well before the coronavirus hit. 

So, in this time of a pandemic, compounded by the time of an election where people want to vote by mail so they don't have to risk their health in order to vote, for the Post Office to be pulling in the post office boxes and taking down the sorting machines and not increasing the overtime hours and the rest.  We have a bill to correct all of that. 

Judy Woodruff.  And at this point, how confident are you that the American people will be able to vote and have their votes counted in November?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, let me just say, we would never count on the Republicans for that, because they, sadly, have put up obstacles to participation.  But, I know, as the former Chair of the California Democratic Party, that Republicans very successfully vote by mail, they do.  They've led the way on this. 

So, across the country, Democrats and Republicans are supporting our call for more funding for vote-by-mail, as well as more funding for those who don't want to vote by mail to be able to safely vote by having more places, more distancing, more hours, more days where people can go to the polls and vote.  Republicans are against that, but, again, we don't agonize, we organize, and we're going to make sure that everyone has a plan well in advance to vote, to vote early, to ensure that their vote is counted as cast.  The Postal Service wants to stand in the way of that. We'll make sure that we can overcome it.  

Judy Woodruff.  Let me ask you about COVID relief before the Congress.  You have been struggling to strike a deal, as we know, with Republicans on this.  But this week, more than 100 Democrats in the House signed a letter urging you to pass a smaller relief bill than what you have out there – you had agreed to go from $3 trillion down to $2 trillion – but they want to expand unemployment benefits.  But basically, they're saying after the duration of this COVID emergency that they would scale the support based on what the situation is in every state.  But my question is, where do you stand on what they're asking you to do?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, they're asking us to do – and I, fully, from a policy standpoint, have always supported the stabilization, that means that if you say, when unemployment reaches a certain point, that you would automatically have unemployment benefits.  That's a very positive initiative.  I have encouraged that.  I have welcomed that suggestion.  

I don't think, strategically, it's where we should go right now because the Republicans would like to pass something like that and say, ‘Forget about it.’ Forget about state and local, forget about our investments in stopping the virus, forget about other initiatives about feeding the food-insecure children in our country, vote-by-mail initiatives and the rest.  So, again, I think that's something we should pass.  I don't think the timing is for us to do it right now.  Because imagine, the Republicans could take that into the Senate, put poison pills all over it, and it's hard to vote against extending unemployment benefits.  

And again, I think, overwhelmingly, our Members – who would not want to extend unemployment benefits?  As I say, it's something I fully support, and the stabilization, but not necessarily in the negotiation.  

Judy Woodruff.  But just to clarify then, you don't really see an opening to get this thing resolved in coming – in the coming few days?

Speaker Pelosi.  No, I do.  And I don't think it's done by giving them an out.  I think it's done by making them come into the negotiation.  Because, really, the most central point of it all where people's needs are met the most is the issue of state and local government.  And they have said, we don't think one state should pay for another state's concerns.  

Well, we in California have been paying for other people's concerns for a long time.  So have people in New York and the rest.  That's the American way.  We do it with great pride and not with any resentment.  But they have said, ‘Oh, it's a tax issue.  Why should people in one state help people in another state?’  Welcome to the United States of America.  

I do – I appreciate what my Members are doing.  I support, fully, that.  But I don't necessarily think the timing of it is right now.  I think that's something that we do when we know we will get it signed without poison pills.  

Judy Woodruff.  Two other very quick things.  The Russians being accused of interfering again in this year's presidential election.  Senate Intelligence Committee report, you're very familiar with it, they say, among other things, the Russians are continuing to spread disinformation.  

Democrats are saying they’re specifically planting disinformation with Republicans like Senator Ron Johnson.  Do Democrats have the information, the evidence to back that up?

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes, we have been briefed, but not to go in to confirming or denying anything.  What we're saying is the intelligence community should be putting forth what it can without jeopardizing sources and methods, of course.  

But there is no question that the Republicans – excuse me, that the Russians are 24/7 trying to undermine the integrity of our elections.  The intelligence community knows that, in fact, they have stated that.  But we have further evidence that they can state more fully, so that whether wittingly or unwittingly, those who might use that information have the fullest knowledge and that the republic knows what the Russians are up to.  

This is about, this about our – I think the American people are clear.  They would rather that they decide who the President of the United States is than Vladimir Putin, with his infiltration of our social media, with their putting forth false information – oh, I can't really go into so much of it.  But it's very wrong, the Administration knows it's wrong and the President does anything but invite it.  And then they try to make it – what is problematic is they try to make some equivalence, ‘Well, this country is doing that, this country is doing that.’ 

There is nothing like what the Russians are doing.  We don't want anybody interfering in our elections, but that – let's not make it look like it's on par with other things.  It is a major assault on our democracy and has a bigger agenda.  It has the agenda of undermining democracies and they've done it in our country and they’ve done it in other countries throughout the world.  We should not allow our country to be – allow this to happen and be accomplices to their undermining of democracy.

Judy Woodruff.  The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.  Thank you very much for joining us.  

Speaker Pelosi.  My pleasure, thank you